Why don’t we write like this anymore?

So when this guy was president, doctors were already becoming aware of the dangers of smoking. But they just said it so much more eloquently. Here was Charles R. Drysdale’s recommendation on secondhand smoke:

“Women who wait in public bar-rooms and smoking-saloons, though not themselves smoking, cannot avoid the poisoning caused by inhaling smoke continually. Surely gallantry, if not common honesty, should suggest the practical inference from this fact.”

Somewhere between the late 19th and the early 20th century, the mode of writing shifted to today’s simplified, less ornate manner. But just read some old Thomas Paine tracts and the writings of America’s founding fathers, and see if you don’t wax poetic.

I assume this is the result of extreme literacy moving from the hands of the extraordinarily wealthy to the basic mass literacy we have today. That’s good, I guess, but we’ve lost some of the magic. Plus, in marketing, you’re told to write to about a 6th grade level, which is teetering on the Orwellian vision of Newspeak.

If anyone has more information about this shift (books, etc.), let me know; it’s a topic that captivates me.

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Brandon

Brandon's been bringing the pain via blog since '02. Word. Er... Press.