Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo
The Complete Set
You will agree that to develop literary style, two things are necessary: reading and writing...
Reading of various novels, stories, fictions is fruitful because their contribution is decidedly the richest. Now the trouble is that when I read these fictions, English or Bengali, though delighted by the style, I can't detach myself from the subject-matter. At times it may mean even the lowering of consciousness.
Why the devil can't you separate yourself from what you read – taking from it only what you need or what you choose?
For instance I read a book by Wodehouse. The fellow, as you know, has some charm of expression, and my vital, takes part in the enjoyment.
I don't. I find him damn silly with a repetition always of the same trick humour. At any rate, I hope you don't call that style.
For literary creation and effective expression, who will deny that style has a great force?
Of course; without style there is no literature – except in fiction, where a man with bad style like Dickens or Balzac can make up by vigour and the power of his substance.
Aren't all your letters so refreshing, stimulating to us because of your superb style? And to manufacture your style, you will hardly deny that your enormous reading contributed to it.
Excuse me! I never manufactured my style; style with any life in it cannot be manufactured. It is born and grows like any other living thing. Of course it was fed on my reading which was not enormous – I have read comparatively little – (there are people in India who have read fifty times or a hundred times as much as I have) only I have made much out of that little. For the rest it is Yoga that has developed my style by the development of consciousness, fineness and accuracy of thought and vision, increasing inspiration and an increasing intuitive discrimination (self-critical) of right thought, word form, just image and figure.