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The Rough Guide to Literary Style - Tasks and Activities

The Old Style

  1. Why did the Renaissance writers use so many words and long sentences?
  2. Explain a “periodic sentence”.
  3. Point out some poetic elements in the opening lines of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
  4. What does it mean that a style is “theatrical”? Originally it means that it is designed for the theatre, but it has a slightly wider definition today.

Science and Facts

  1. Explain the rationality in the short quote from Robinson Crusoe.
  2. Discuss where to draw the line between the style of factual information and fiction.
  3. Write a short paragraph of fiction presented as lexical information. (You may use the Crusoe quote as a model.)

The Romantic Touch

  1. Point out some poetic elements in the paragraph from Jane Eyre.
  2. Jane Austen uses a more formal style than would be used today. Point out some examples of this in the extract.
  3. Jane Austen’s literary universe is to a large extent defined by class. Can you see any examples of that in this extract?


  1. Why can Dickens’ style be described as sensuous?
  2. Point out differences and similarities in the quotes from Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.
  3. What does it mean that realistic style never can be “real”?

Less is More

  1. Explain what it means that “less is more”.
  2. Why does “poetic prose” seem like a contradiction?
  3. What do you think of Hemingway's six-word story? Does it work as a novel?
  4. Hemingway’s style is often referred to as the “iceberg technique” – what do you think is implied by that?

Further Studies

  1. What is the usual relation between quality and quantity? Follow the link and read about Jack London, whose production outnumbers most writers; then find out what critics say about his writing. You may also read the related Jack London short story Flush of Gold – what do you think?
    Jack London
  2. Follow the links below for more information about some of the writers presented in the article. See if you can spot any connection between their background and their literary style.
Sist oppdatert 04.03.2017
Skrevet av Jan-Louis Nagel


Literary analysis