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This from yesterday’s obituaries in the Times, quoting Henri Troyat on how he developed his writing style:

“I would read a paragraph of Flaubert out loud and rewrite it from memory. Then, by comparing my version with the original, I would try to understand why what I had written was an affront to what I had read.”

This is an interesting take on the writing process and on style. Very metacognitive, in that it’s clear that Troyat was not trying to emulate Flaubert. He simply looked at where his voice went wrong in transcribing a master, and in that way was consciously able to develop some inner voice of his own. I like it.

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  1. The anxiety of influence. The apprentice’s ongoing agon with the Master.

    Let’s hope the Master does not leave the apprentice feeling paralyzed. Hard to practice in those cases.

    Witty portrait of a rivalry. Self-deprecation masking its grandiose opposite, perhaps.

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