Elegance in writing

Just as the main purpose of an overcoat is to protect us from the cold, so the main purpose of language is to communicate. When we choose an overcoat, do we not take a good look at the quality, cut, colour, style, seams and other details? This is also true for writing. If we are in Herculaneum and want to describe the splendid frescoes in the ancient homes or the looming and immovable (but not always!) force of Mt. Vesuvius, we cannot expect to use the first words that come to mind. We must try to re-create the same elegance, same force and same majesty that the things themselves convey. We need to find words that not only “describe” these things but that also evoke them with their sound and shape. I can say “large” or I can say “mastodonic” (referencing an animal from the past). I can say “hot” or I can say “incandescent” (also evoking the danger of volcanoes). Just as for an overcoat, we must look at all the details before we buy.

Claudio Visentin and Guido Bosticco

 

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