December 19th, 2018

a note about style

I decided, earlier today, to reread Heinlein's Double Star, one of his adult novels from the 1950s. I've long considered it one of his best, and I still feel that way now. But I also noticed several passages that said things I think now, and that are probably the first places where I encountered those ideas. In particular, at one point, Lorenzo (the protagonist) is rewriting a speech that he's supposed to deliver in the role of John Joseph Bonforte, leader of the Expansionist Party:

I started out simply substituting synonyms, putting in the gutty Germanic words in place of the "intestinal" Latin jawbreakers.

Analyzing the stylistic effects of different language strata within English has become one of my regular working tools as an editor and as a writer. I can't think of any place where I might have seen it before I first read Double Star. So thanks, Mr. Heinlein.