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Newman's Prose Style

John Henry cardinal Newman is one of the prominent and powerful prose writers of the 19th century. The Idea of a University is one of his famous prose pieces. In this prose piece he shows his skill in writing prose and discuss about Newman's Prose Style.

Newman was a man of brilliant personality and the master of a lucid and fine prose style as well as of a powerful argumentation of mind. He stands as a supreme and his prose is characterised by lucidity, restraint,balance and wonderful transparency. He is as clear in handling his subject of extreme subtlety. Newman's idea is one with the medium. His words convey his meaning clearly. His style bears the stamp of the charm of Newman's personal, colloquial which make his style beautiful. It was a beautiful style with a limpid lucidity, a chastened eloquence, a gentle persuasiveness. He says- "When I speak of knowledge, I mean something intellectual, something which grasps what it perceives through the senses."

Newman is the master of simple prose, dignified but resilient and his mind, though moved by emotion, was disciplined by a fine intellect. His style is the perfection of classical simplicity and discipline. He possessed the imagination of the poet, the chastened and delicate taste of the scholar, and the earnestness of the true priest. He also showed the keen instinct of the controversialist. He was the stylist of the highest rank, equally free from the affectations of the mere literature and the coldness of the mere scholar.

His style is called transparent, because at first we are not conscious of his manner and unobtrusive because we never think of Newman himself but only of the subject he is discussing. He expresses his thinking with such naturalness and apparent easiness that without thinking much we receive exactly the impression he means to convey. He says "the useful is not always good, the good is always useful. Good is not only good, but reproductive of good."

He is wonderfully simple and direct but when his feelings are aroused he speaks with poetic images and symbols. Newman is a representative of that perfect style, which has been more than once indicated as the best, for all purpose in English. It is in him refined still further by an extra dose of classical and readmit correctness, flavoured with quaint though never over mannered turns of phrase and soft in every direction with a quintessential individuality, rarely attempting the purely rhetorical but instinct with a strange quiver of religious and political spirit, candour, quiet humour, psychological insight, understatement, sudden piercing irony - these are the qualities of Newman's prose style.

In the final analysis of course Newman's prose is admirable because it is the mirror of his own character. uniting intellectuai power with a keen sensibility and a warm heart and one responds to its beauty, as so many students did to him with respect, tempted by affection.

Few prose writers in an age contained a considerable number of admirable stylists have excelled Newman. He achieved a wonderful ease and clarity in all he wrote, but added to these qualities unconsciously the charm and sweetness of his own personality and a quiet music which was the reflection of the mildness of his own temperament. His works will be read if only for their high literary value. The Idea of a University is one of his best prose pieces. He after revised what he wrote and made innumerable changes not in an attempt to write well or to form an eloquent style but with the one single desire and aim to explain clearly and exactly his meaning. In most of his writing, there is no sense to effort; everything seems transparent and spontaneous. He is a master of simple and beautiful cadences and in this respect his description of a gentleman is well known.


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