Writing Style and Light Wine

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Different writing styles appeal to different audiences. In an excerpt from, The Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell, Boswell distinguishes between the two very different writing styles of Joseph Addison and Samuel Johnson. Boswell believes both are very esteemed writers but it is evident Boswell favors Johnson’s style over Addison’s. Boswell conveys his perspective on both styles with diction and devices, namely similes and metaphors.

At first Boswell defends Addison against claims made on Addison’s writing style as “nerveless and feeble” compared to that of Johnson’s. In his passage, Boswell considers the social position from which Addison is writing from. He states “Addison writes with the ease of a gentleman”, indicating Addison’s style has a casual, eloquent, and polite manner. Addison’s style is flowing and easygoing like a conversation, indicating that he writes the way he speaks. He is more like an “accomplished companion” and does not write like he is above his audience from an intellectual standpoint but rather a knowledgeable colleague. Boswell signifies Addison is more relaxed with his writing and is easy to understand from the beginning to end. Addison “insinuates his sentiments” with an “imperceptible influence”. The way Addison communicates his ideas is not imposing and not very forceful. He causes his audience to consider his point of view and supports it with viable arguments bringing the reader to respect him. He is more like a “light wine” where he appeals to everyone.

In contrast, Johnson’s style is bolder and more forceful. Boswell observes that “Johnson writes like a teacher”; Johnson as opposed to Addison makes himself known as the higher intellectual to his audience. Johnson does not hold back and states his arguments firmly like a professor speaking in front of his students. He “dictates to his readers as if from an academical chair” and does not simply suggest his point like Addison but conveys it with a commanding nature....
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