THE COLLOQUIAL STYLE IN AMERICA by Richard Bridgman

THE COLLOQUIAL STYLE IN AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Professor Bridgman (he's at the University of California) has studied closely and with considerable interest the naturalization and concomitant liberation of American style between 1825 and 1925, from the dense obfuscation of Hawthorne to its emancipation with Hemingway. Many, Hemingway among them, shared DeVoto's contention that ""Since Huckleberry Finn the well of American undefiled has flowed confidently."" However Professor Bridgman considers some of the other determinants-- such as the American refusal to be ""be-Britished""-- which also led to the confluence of the spoken and written word. His examination here, which is largely for teachers, and/or writers, analyzes not only the vernacular but parts of speech and devices (repetitions, alliteration, stress, etc.) in Twain, who was to bring so much immediacy and spontaneity to his writing; James, whose style was ""designed to produce a stylized version of the mind talking""; Twain's imitators; Gertrude Stein and the reach of her experimental abstractions; and finally Hemingway who in his later writing achieved the combination of the aesthetic with the colloquial.... Bridgman's reading, sharply sensitive to the visual and aural values of words, to techniques, and more broadly, to the necessary and evolutionary flexibility of language, will fascinate anyone who endorses Gertrude Stein's ""I like anything that a word can do"" although it is primarily for a special audience.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1966
Publisher: Oxford