Stormin’ Norman Mailer on Style

Jean Campbell and Norman Mailer

A really good style comes only when a man has become as good as he can be. Style is character. A good style cannot come from a bad, undisciplined character. Now a man may be evil, but I believe that people can be evil in their essential natures and still have good characters. Good in the sense of being well-tuned. They can have characters that are flexible, supple, adaptable, principled in relation to their own good or their own evil – even an evil man can have principles – he can be true to his own evil, which is not always so easy, either. I think good style is a matter of rendering out of oneself all the cupidities, all the cripplings, all the velleities. And then I think one has to develop one’s physical grace. Writers who are possessed of some physical grace may tend to write better than writers who are physically clumsy. It’s my impression this is so. I don’t know that I’d care to attempt to prove it.

Actually, Norman, I don’t know that you were ever capable of proving it, but it’s an interesting theory.

via TheParisReview

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