The Writer’s Voice and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 
Start reading The Writer’s Voice on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

The Writer's Voice [Hardcover]

Al Alvarez
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 5.98  
Hardcover --  
Paperback 6.29  

Book Description

3 Jan 2005
'For a writer, voice is a problem that never lets you go, and I have thought about it for as long as I can remember - if for no other reason than that a writer doesn't properly begin until he has a voice of his own.' What makes good writing good? In his brilliant new book, Al Alvarez argues that it is the development of the voice - voice as distinct from style - that makes a writer great. A poet as well as a critic, Al Alvarez approaches his subject both as an informed observer and an insider. Here are - among others - Sylvia Plath, John Donne, Jean Rhys, Shakespeare, TS Eliot, Coleridge and W.B. Yeats, dissected with clarity, depth and a profound understanding of the mechanics of writing. Like the best literary criticism, The Writer's Voice makes writing come vividly alive. Written with passion and insight, it is the ideal gift for anyone who loves to read.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Edition First Printing edition (3 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747576289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747576280
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 504,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

'Eloquent essays,rich in anecdote,from the hand of a true and lifelong servant of poetry.' J.M. Coetzee 'An impressive performance by a poet who allows nothing to come between him and the literature he loves. His book should not be neglected by anybody with a serious interest in modern literature and literary criticism.' Frank Kermode

About the Author

Al Alvarez is a poet, novelist, literary critic, anthologist, and author of many highly praised non-fiction books on topics ranging from suicide, divorce, and dreams - The Savage God, Life After Marriage, Night- to poker, North Sea oil, and mountaineering - The Biggest Game in Town, Offshore, Feeding the Rat. His most recent books are New and Selected Poems and an autobiography, Where Did It All Go Right? He lives in London.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent little book 25 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are looking at this book you should probably buy it. It's one of those books you don't want to read too quickly. Both because it's densely written and because you want to draw out the pleasure of reading it. It's spare but rich in arresting insights - Alvarez's own and many beautifully apposite quotes. The author's voice gives confidence in his complete grasp of his subject from the first sentence and never falters, while remaining unselfimportant and an engaging read. At one point he quotes I. A. Richards on metre, "...it's effect is not due to our perceiving a pattern in something outside us, but to our becoming patterned ourselves." I loved that and the book is packed with stuff like that. He quotes Coleridge on poetry as something which, "contains in itself the reasons why it is so and not otherwise". Virginia Woolf, "Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can't use the wrong words". (This is from the start of a fascinating quote from Woolf, which goes deep into her justification for this assertion.) It's a really excellent little book. Buy it and read it, become patterned by it.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for all writers 20 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Alvarez explores voice, not as style, but as something Roth described as 'starting behind the knees and ending somewhere above the head.' Drawing on Freud, he suggests that finding your voice is like something akin to expressing your true adult identity (Jung would have called it 'Self'.) The text also examines the differences between poetry and prose, and is suggestive without being judgmental. A book that can be revisited again and again.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and engaging 2 Aug 2008
Format:Paperback
This short book is beautifully written and absorbingly interesting, and will have you looking at authors you might not like with a fresh and more tolerant eye. He talks about writers having a `tone of voice'. He talks too about readers having to learn to listen, and how easy it is to get sucked into `the cult of personality'. He's obviously not happy about `the shift from art to marketing', where what is produced becomes of secondary interest compared to the author's (or artist's) life.

As you read, you find yourself pausing to have a think about what's been said, to ask yourself if you agree or disagree. The author has firm views, but I never felt that he was beating me about the head with them; rather, I was being asked to consider if perhaps he had a point. On balance, I thought he did.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Stroll in the Posh Park 17 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This small tract collects together three lectures given by Alvarez in New York in 2002. Although separate lectures, they run together here as continuous chapters, and there would be little sense in reading them as anything other than an article in their own right.

His first lecture, `Finding a Voice', describes the basic authorial skills expected today: an economy of words, good technique, specific imagery, directness, and authenticity. What Alvarez talks about here is his Modernist ideal of the writer as an artist, and he uses Plath's `The Moon and the Yew Tree', as his guide to perfection.
His second lecture, `Listening', describes the importance of allowing ones musicality to simmer through language's formal rules. Alvarez declares chaos and unpredictability to be as important as skill in itself, taking Alfred Brendel, Novalis and Einstein as telling sources here.
He concludes by emphasising the complicity of both skill and instinct in any true art. I thought Alvarez began to get self-defensive here; he inveighs against the Beat generation's reaction to (his ideal of) high Modernism, accusing them of ushering in a fake relationship between the poet, the work, and the audience. Apparently, today, we are all too scared of understanding art and so prefer to become absorbed in personalities, like Emin, splashed across tabloids.

Despite the elitist tones echoing round this book, Alvarez is good to his own word; he keeps away from both cliché and jargon, and strolls around his subject naturally, at ease with what he's saying whilst knowing he's saying it well. This is definitely worth a peruse.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Writer's Voice - can you hear it? 22 Aug 2011
By RR Waller TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Part of the Norton Lecture series of short books, "The Writer's Voice" explores the stylistics and linguistic content we consider to be "the writer"; on one double page, he examines Lawrence, John Donne, Albert Einstein, Thomas Wyatt and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The unusual, odd-man-out writer in the list is used to comment, as he did, that creative thinking is "a physical process, 'visual ... muscular' deeply embedded in the body-mind" and to point out that, in his line of work - atomic physics - words and language in the normal sense of those words, did not play a great part in his thinking. (P58)
Alvarez' view of art as a quest for order and rationality by people who are not very orderly or (in some cases) sane themselves but, nevertheless, quite loveable, will not be to everyone's taste not will his passionately held views about the writers' voice but they will make you think and deserve attention.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category


Feedback