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Thinking Through StyleNon-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Michael D. Hurley and Marcus Waithe

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198737827

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198737827.001.0001

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Vernon Lee’s Handling of Words

Vernon Lee’s Handling of Words

(p.282) 17 Vernon Lee’s Handling of Words
Thinking Through Style

Catherine Maxwell

Oxford University Press

Early schooled in writing by a pedagogy rooted in dialogic exchange, Vernon Lee (1856–1935) made the interactive relationship between writer and reader central to her critical prose. Her early essays showcase her already distinctive prose voice—markedly different from a professional academic masculine voice. Quick to establish a rapport, Lee is a sympathetic guide, skilfully steering her readers through arguments and expositions, but also stimulating and involving them through impressionistic description, association, and intricate dynamic passages full of open-ended verb forms. Published in the 1890s and early 1900s, many of the essays in her innovative book The Handling of Words and Other Studies in Literary Psychology (1923) show her fascination with the idea of style as a form of contact and transaction between writer and reader, with style creating the perceptual patterns that persuade readers to think and imagine in ways not naturally their own.

Keywords:   Vernon Lee, dialogic, writer, reader, prose, voice, impressionistic, association, dynamic, style

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