Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Boreham Literary Style: Unobtrusive yet Present

This posting is a continuation of several articles which seek to identify and describe the Boreham literary style.

When F W Boreham said of J M Barrie’s writing that “there is a sense in which he never speaks of himself: there is a sense in which he puts himself into every word that he utters,”[1] he offered a clue into his own relationship with his readers. Boreham was content with the anonymity of the unattributed editorial and he prized the authorial restraint that refrained from including personal references. His commitment to self-effacement was intended to enhance the readability that comes, according to Orwell, when “good prose is like a windowpane.”[2]

Frank Boreham rejected Anton Chekhov’s advice to writers to be “as objective as a chemist” and to “abandon the subjective line,” because it was his aim to allow his personality and his enthusiasm for the subject to ooze through his words.[3] His subjectivity was most noticeable in his language of commendation, when he referred to a character’s “exemplary courage,”[4] “scrupulous exactitude”[5] or “resistless charm.”[6] Boreham cultivated a friendly position of parity with his readers rather than an omniscient, patronizing and intrusive stance.

Geoff Pound

Image: Frank Boreham Collage.

[1] F W Boreham, Mercury, 9 May 1942.
[2] George Orwell, ‘Why I write’, 7.
[3] Letter to M V Kiselev, 14 January 1887, Anton Chekhov: Letters on the short story, ed. L S Friedland (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1924), 275.
[4] Boreham, Mercury, 11 September 1943.
[5] Boreham, Mercury, 30 April 1949.
[6] Boreham, Mercury, 17 March 1951.