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The Writer's Voice Hardcover – 3 Jan 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 3 Jan 2005
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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Best book on creative writing ever written, by a very long way.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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