Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Very Black Ink, Very Big Pen, Very Blunt Nib

I shall detail the ingredients of a good article, Mrs Zenobia, says Mr B. And I was so ever so keen to learn how to write this species of writing called the intensities. Mr B. obliged.
  1. The writer of intensities must have very black ink, and a very big pen, with a very blunt nib. No individual of however great genius ever wrote with a good pen a good article.
  2. Sensations are the great things. Should you ever be drowned or hung, be sure and make note of your sensations. If you wish to write forcibly, pay minute attention to the sensations. Nothing so well assists the fancy, as an experimental knowledge of the matter in hand.
  3. Having determined upon your subject, you must next consider the tone, or manner of your narration.
  4. It is necessary that your article have an air of erudition, or at least afford evidence of extensive general reading. Use Latin, Greek, German and Spanish quotes to show off not only your knowledge of the language but your general reading and wit.

And thus, I left Mr Blackwood and went straight on to the stationery store to get my very black ink, a very big pen and a very blunt nib. As he said, when a manuscript can be read it is never worth reading.

Verbatim from Edgar Allan Poe, "How to Write a Blackwood Article", 1850.

Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe 1848
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