Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The ironmonger’s catalog

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Ford Madox Ford

Carefully examined a good—an interesting—style will be found to consist in a constant succession of tiny, unobservable surprises…

The catalog of an ironmonger’s store is uninteresting as literature because things in it are all classified and thus obvious: the catalog of a farm sale is more interesting because things in it are contrasted. No one would for long read: “Nails, drawn wire, 1/2 inch, per lb…; nails do., 3/4 inch, per lb…; nails, do., inch, per lb…” But it is often not disagreeable to read desultorily: “Lot 267, Pair rabbit gins. Lot 268, Antique powder flask. Lot 269, Malay Kris. Lot 270, Set of six sporting prints by Herring. Lot 271, Silver caudle cup…” For that, as far as it goes, has the quality of surprise.

Ford Madox Ford

Written by nevalalee

February 28, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Quote of the Day, Writing

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