What is an “arch prose style?”
September 8, 2023 11:30 AM   Subscribe

From this article: “Her arch prose style recalled the anomie of ‘The Andy Warhol Diaries’”

When I look up “arch” in relation to writing, I get stuff about plots or characters being “arch”, but not the writing style itself.
posted by wheatlets to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Dry, shade-throwing, winking, mildly outrageous when deciphered but not full-out flamboyant.
posted by praemunire at 11:32 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]

It means amused in a dry, superior way.
posted by shadygrove at 11:33 AM on September 8 [12 favorites]

Nthing the above. "Arch" is being used as the adjective to describe the prose!
posted by Kitteh at 11:40 AM on September 8

I usually think of Spy magazine as a good example of arch. Also a lot of Choire Sicha's writing.
posted by Mid at 11:40 AM on September 8 [4 favorites]

like Panic at the Disco's whole thing but in prose!
posted by Rich Text at 12:07 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]

Detached, intellectual, dryly humorous. Arch writing doesn't contain jokes; it contains witticisms.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:17 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]

Picture someone wryly "arch"ing one skeptical, amused eyebrow at the thing they're writing about
posted by potrzebie at 12:20 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]

I was going to say ''arch' also has overtones of 'catty', so I’d be reluctant to use it to describe a woman's or a gay man's writing', but then I saw that the article was about a woman named 'Cat', so I think the author of the article was having a little fun, possibly at Cat Monell's expense as well as Andy Warhol's, but possibly innocently too.
posted by jamjam at 1:22 PM on September 8

That feeling like there's always some subtextual joke going on that you're not 100% sure you're in on - and the author wants it that way.
posted by Mchelly at 1:23 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]


Arch, adjective.

1. Chief, principal, prime, pre-eminent. (Now rarely used without the hyphen.) 1574–

2.a. [Arising from preceding sense, in connection with wag, knave, rogue, hence with fellow, face, look, reply, etc.] Clever, roguish, waggish; (now usually) consciously or affectedly playful or teasing. 1684–
posted by zamboni at 1:46 PM on September 8

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