Page:The Craftsmanship of Writing.djvu/122

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THE AUTHOR'S PURPOSE

ance finds expression at one time in a L'Assommoir and at another in a Tam O'Shanter. And in general the rule may be laid down, that the form in which any central idea is to be clothed depends less upon the idea than upon the individual ability of the author. But the practical distinction of this is really not great. You may have conceived some light, frothy little idea, such as would make a graceful triolet; it makes no difference whether a triolet is the biggest thing lurking in that idea, or whether someone else might take it and develop it into something of much greater dignity—in either case it is an error of judgment on your part to give that little idea the misplaced dignity of an elegy or a sonnet. Or perhaps you have hit upon a really big situation deserving of the broad treatment of a Hardy or a Meredith; if you are able to see it in that broad, big way be careful not to squander

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