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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Variation in style

But the "Pervasive" view of style also has to confront the fact that there may be a multiplicity of styles within the same work.Such Stylistic variation can follow various patterns.An evolutionary pattern in one.In this Portrait,Joyee offers a development of style corresponding to his hero's development from the dawning of linguistic consciousness,in childhood,to maturity.More ambitiously, in the Scylla and Charybdis episode of Ulysses,he offersa recapitulation,through parody,of English literary history.
                     Another kind of pattern is alternation.In Bleak House,the impersonal ironic voice of the author is interspersed with the more humanly involved voice of Esther.In Faulkner's "The sound and the fury",four "narrators" take it in turn to present their vision of events to the reader.A quantitative method can still be applied to these cases,if stylistically homogeneous sections can be separated out as different "texts" within the same work.This can lead to revealing internal comparisons:Halliday,for example,compares the Neanderthal style in "The Inheritors" with the homo sapiens style and a third,transitional style in the same novel.
                    It is less east to reconcile the "pervasive" approach with a more general and subtle type of stylistic shift which must be found,to some extent,in every novel.This is the adaptation of style,sometimes abrupt,sometimes gradual to the ongoing narrative focus,with its changes of tone,mood and subject.
                                                           The variation of style with tone is supremely exemplified in Dickens;and we may take,for illustration,four passages from the earlier part of Dombey and Son,in which style variation in intrinsic to the novel's satiric-epic picture of Victorian urban society,concentrating on the capitalist house of Dombey.The book begins,with the description of father and son at the latter's birth:the following paragraph is so formal in its rhetorical design,balancing each element of Mr Dombey's description against a similar element of the description of Paul,that we may set it out in tabular form (reading the columns from left to right)

[3] Dombey was about eight-and-forty years of age                              Son about eight-and-forty minutes

   Dombey was rather bald,rather red and though a handsome                Son was  very bald,and very red and though an undeniably
      well-made man, too stern and pompous in apperance                           fine infant,somewhat crushed and spotty in his
        to be prepossessing.                                                                        general effect as yet....


    On the brow of Dombey,time and his brother                                      While the countenance of Son was crossed with a thousand
      Care had set some marks,as on a tree that                                    little creases,which the same deceitful time would take delight
      was to come down in good time remorseless                                 in smoothing out and wearing away with the flat part of his
       twins they are for striding through their                                         scythe,as a preparation of the surface for his depper
       human forests, notching as they go....                                           operations.

This is a brief glimpse of one kind of language which recurs at intervals throughout the book,especially at symbolic and ceremonial points in the fortunes of the Dombey family:births,funerals and marriages.It is poised between comedy and moral seriousness,and the dominant note of irony is struck in the balancing of father and son,and in the reiterated unmodified nouns Dombey and Son- appropriate references to individuals whose lives are respectively dedicated and mortagaged to the gods of family pride and commerce.The tone is maintained by an armoury of traditional rhetorical devices:anaphora,parallelism (with antithesis),personification.At the same time, the formalism is broken up (particularly in the last and longest sentence) by elements which all ease transition to a lighter tone of comedy:for example,the bantering irony signalled by the parenthesis of though an undeniably fine infant (direct against a general human frailty,partiality of parents to their offspring,rather than against the more repellant from that partially takes in Mr Dombey);also, the fanciful extensions of the well-worn personifications of Time and Care again expressed through parenthetical elaboration of the syntax....
                     A different kind of style,and a different kind of rhetoric,is employed in passages where Dickness wants to move us with compassion:notably in Paul's death scene,where he can afford to use simple syntax and vocabulary (expressing the simple images of the child's mind) in the assurance that understatement will merely intensify the reader's sympathy..............

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