The Sincerest Form of Flattery

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Sincerest Form of Flattery.”


While there are many writer who can effectively change styles, the best I can do is applaud their skills. The most accomplished individual who consistently writes in more than one style is Umberto Eco, in my opinion. I’m not absolutely certain he can mimic the style of other authors, but he certainly does a thorough job becoming one character, and then another. It’s almost like a play where a living, breathing person is reading the lines, where style is the name of the game. Eco’s best example is The Prague Cemetery.

Captain Simonini, the lead character, is actually a forger by trade, who creates and alters official documents. But in public he is his own grandfather who, now deceased, was a captain in the army. That sounds like a pretty tall order, but Eco pulls it off.

Early on, Simonini discovers a priest’s clothing in his room, as well as indications someone has been sleeping in his bed. Then he discovers a passageway that has somehow gone unnoticed until this very moment. Pulling the curtain aside, he steps into the hallway and finds wigs, shoes, and clothing. He wonders who could possible be storing these things here without being noticed? Following the hall further he discovers another apartment with a stairway leading to another street. There is also a bed, and a desk bearing freshly penned letters ready for posting.

That’s only the beginning.

He goes through his daily life, switching back and forth, his grammar, attire, and habits are in lockstep. Upon reaching the end of the book I’ve been jerked around so much I’m not certain I’ve grasped Eco’s intended meaning. So I go back to page one and read it a second time.

Later, I asked a fellow writer what she’d gleaned from The Prague Cemetery. She told me she thought it was a handbook on spin.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/the-sincerest-form-of-flattery/”>The Sincerest Form of Flattery</a>