Literature Without Style

English readers in particular (as opposed to American) will notice that some of the effects here recall the working class dialects of northern England, in which articles are often dropped and one says “foot” rather than “feet” when indicating lengths. There’s an irony here since the book focuses on London’s aristocratic rich, while the voice recalls a working class north, distant and potentially critical. Yet the voice is not a straight imitation of dialect, since many other dialect elements are missing. In the end, it is not clear what Green’s style “means” or where exactly it’s coming from, but it does begin to establish, as it were, a position, a new and unusual space, within the known cultural setting of 1930s England.


Typically content matters more than style in political analyses of literature. Here Tim Parks expertly dissects the opening lines of Henry Green's novel Partygoing (1939). Parks goes on to note that Green was writing at a time when prose fiction was still aimed at a localized audience. Today, on the other hand, publishing (and literature) is a global business, so vernacular styles such as Green's are being replaced by styles that are more easily translated, hence the term "literature without style."

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s