Thursday, October 3, 2013

Imagiste Manifesto

  1. To use the language of common speech, but to employ the exact word, not the nearly-exact, not the merely decorative word.
  2. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new cadence means a new idea.
  3. Absolute freedom in the choice of subject.
  4. To present an image. We are not a school of painters, but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to us to shirk the real difficulties of his art.
  5. To produce a poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred or indefinite.
  6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.

A manifesto protesting purple prose. From nineteen twelve. Over a century ago. Sure, this refers to poetry, but doesn't this read like modern fiction writing advice paraphrased?

To use the language of common speech
employ the exact word
avoid decorative words
avoid vague generalities
produce [writing] that is hard and clear

Why has it taken fiction so long to catch up? And why is purple prose still around?

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