Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Functions of style ii: "ex animo"

As you know, I have complete
confidence in you and am sure
that you will produce an im-
portant work; but I am also
anxious that it should be a
striking work, something out
of the ordinary, something that
even the professional Scotch
historians will have to notice
because it will be read outside
their little magic circle, and
so they will be forced to dis-
cuss it and not bury it with a
few condescending private for-
mulae. In order that it shall
have this effect, you must el-
evate it, as you can, above the
common run of theses.

You  must give it form and vi-
tality. Form, of course, only
comes from care and discipline;
vitality comes from you. The es-
sence of form is unity.. a sense 
of proportion.. write with con-
fidence and brio (which must be
fed, if necessary, on champagne
purchased on the credit of fu-
ture royalties). Above all, en-
joy writing. It is not always
easy to do so. One has to get 
over the flat somehow. 

 'Recklessly selfish advice, a
 Mephistophelian manipulation,'
 one can almost hear the men-
 tors of the forgotten, murmur.

 Still, his Festschrift was em-
 bellished and his final post-
 humous work guided to press 
 by the man who got that letter.
 He didn't call for damages.

Hugh Trevor-Roper
Lord Dacre of Glanton
16 April 1973
One Hundred Letters ..
op. cit.

The Invention of Scotland
  Myth and History
Jeremy Cater, editor
Yale University Press, 2008©

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