Simplicity is Art & Success=T+C (video)


Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.
Mark Twain

The following is excerpted from Responsibilities of The Novelist published in 1903.

Through this series that revisits 19th century authors, BriteLites invites discussion of topics that remain important to WordSmiths.

File:Frank Norris.jpg

Once upon a time I had occasion to buy so uninteresting a thing as a silver soup-ladle. The salesman at the silversmith’s was obliging and for my inspection brought forth quite an array of ladles. But my purse was flaccid, anemic, and I must pick and choose with all the discrimination in the world.

I wanted to make a brave showing of my gift – to get a great deal for my money. I went through a world of soup-ladles – ladles with gilded bowls, with embossed handles, with chased arabesques, but there were none to my taste.

“Or perhaps,: says the salesman, “you would care to look at something like this,” and he brought out a ladle that was as plain and as unadorned as the unclouded sky – and about a beautiful.  Of all the others this was the most to my liking.  But the price! Ah, that anemic purse; and I must put it from me! It was nearly double the cost of any of the rest. And when I asked why, the salesman said:

“You see, in this highly ornamental ware the flaws of the material don’t show, and you can cover up a blowhole or the like by wreaths and beading.  But this plain ware has got to be the very best. Every defect is apparent.”

And there, if you please, is a conclusive comment upon the whole business – a final basis of comparison of all things whether commercial or artistic … .  We painters and poets and writers – artists – must labour with all the wits of us, all the strength of us, and with all that we have of ingenuity and perseverance to attain simplicity.

Library of Congress – National Book Festival – Washington, DC
September 22 & 23rd

WORTH A LOOK = Time + Productivity (6-minute video)

Visit Sandra’s Blog – Art for Healing & High Achievement


6 thoughts on “Simplicity is Art & Success=T+C (video)

  1. To be complicated into infinity is to achieve simplicity. How hard it is to be succinct!
    Some times a few words burn themselves into my eyes, and still others hold my hand ever tight leaving marks, and yet other terms mark my soul. Mark Twain, he has done this. . . To another, me.

    • John,

      Thanks so much for your comment on the most recent BriteLites.

      Your writing has a special beauty and unique phrasing.

      And I now see that, given the time you posted, you truly are an early riser. (Okay, just joking, but Big Smile)


  2. Thanks for the post. That was quite a nice analogy with the ladle. Not sure about the whole “flaccid purse” thing, but time tends to affect language it seems. Feel free to check out some of the writing on my blog. Always nice to hear from people that can appreciate good work, not to say that mine lives up to Twain. Thanks again

    • Thanks for your comment on my BriteLites post. Only a few more in this 19th century series remain. I’m amazed at how relevant their comments remain. Check back.

      I look forward to checking your blog & stay in touch.

      Sandra Gould Ford

  3. I enjoyed the short excerpt. The fact the author used such words as flaccid and anemic to describe his purse remninded me once again the power of vocabulary to emphasize a point
    Connections of a plain and simple ladle with plain and simple prose I think I got it 🙂
    Sorry I have been unable to comment more often on this series but I will try to stay more involved.

    • Thanks so much for your comments on the “less is more” article on writing. Your thoughts on the current post will be appreciated.

      I’m new to blogging and have just figured out where comments are (awaiting approval).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s