Late Style in Film and Literature
This paper will engage with the question of how late style for artists has manifested itself through the work of their old age and how they may attempt to synthesize, refine or contradict the themes of their earlier work. Said writes that "There is therefore an inherent tension in late style" and it is this precise tension that this paper seeks to discuss. Often this tension can present itself in a cynicism or negativity that comes out in late works. This negativity is not merely pessimistic or misanthropic but is handed down with the wisdom that only age can provide. Also not uncommon is for artists to return to earlier motifs and look at them through a new prism, often a prism of negativity and re-align their themes or move away from an earlier viewpoint, creating a tension with their earlier works. Not all artists follow in this path, or even achieve Said's definition of late style, but looking across a variety of media and eventually settling on two: film and literature, one can see amongst the most towering figures, excellent examples of Said's definition of late style in Clint Eastwood, Philip Roth and John Updike. Each of these artists play with their existing images and achieve what Said terms "a sense of being out of time and place" while still engaging with the issues of the world. This remove is what is necessary for the creation of Said's definition of late style and it exists between each of the artists discussed here and the contemporary mainstream of their respective mediums.