Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Wonderful Way to Write?

Apparently, L. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis continued to use dip pens (or steel nibs) long after most people had given them up. Douglas Gresham, the stepson of Lewis, apparently observed his stepfather writing five words, pausing to think, dipping, writing another five words, pausing and dipping. He thought this was a "wonderful way to write," if you have the patience.[1]

Having had to write with one of these things, I disagree. It was awful Either there was too much ink on the nib or too little. Dripping was a constant danger and thinking hindered by the struggle with the nib. But perhaps it was all the fault of the cheap ink we had to use in school (and of course the lack of having the practice of forty years). Whatever else may be said of steel nibs, they are not good for note-taking, even if Robert Graves wrote 140 books this way.

1. See Harry Bruce, Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers (Toronto: McClelland, 2009), p. 37 (I have only consulted the Google preview).

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