Monday, 30 August 2010

To Write Well, by Friedrich Nietzsche

The scales are falling from my eyes: I lived too long in a state of stylistic innocence. The categorical imperative, "Thou shalt and must write," has aroused me. I tried something that I had never tried except at school: to write well, and suddenly the pen froze in my hand. I could not do it, and was annoyed. And all the while Lessing's and Lichtenberg's and Schopenhauer's stylistic precepts were buzzing in my ears. It was always my solace that these three authorities unanimously agree that it is difficult to write well, that no man has a good style by nature, that one must work at the uphill job of acquiring one.

Friedrich Nietzsche to Carl von Gersdorff, April 6 1867 in
Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche, ed. Christopher Middleton, p. 21.

2 comments:

  1. "No man has a good style by nature, [] one must work at the uphill job of acquiring one." Why is it always so comforting for me to hear that the great ones struggled?

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  2. If the greats have suffered, there is hope for as mere mortals...

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