Tuesday, July 13, 2004

After praising the great William F. Buckley in my last post, it's only fair that I should balance things out a little.

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost has finally said something that I've thought (and believed I was perhaps alone in) for quite some time. There's no doubt that Buckley is a great man; in many ways, he's one of the most important Americans of the 20th century.

But his writing style stinks. It's not his vocabulary, which has been the source of many complaints; indeed, I like the unusual words with which he peppers his writings. The problem is that his syntax is odd, his flow is stilted, his grammar is often just plain wrong, and his sentence structure is often needlessly complicated to the point where the reader often has no idea which adjectives and verbs refer to which nouns.

I've always been a bit embarrassed that I found him virtually unreadable. After all, he's a Harvard man and he's known for his writing. But while his writings contain ideas that helped change a nation, I suspect those ideas carried the day in spite of the style in which they were expressed rather than because of it.

I think people have been afraid to point it out because Buckley is obviously so much smarter than most of us. But I think Joe's right, and I'm glad he had the chutzpah to say it.

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