A COLLECTION OF SENTENCES
What are collected here are sentences – and perhaps we'll permit an occasional paragraph – found in my reading. Interesting sentences. Curious sentences. I won't over-collect: it will be only ever a gathering of the few for those few who enjoy such.
• From Hermann Broch's The Sleepwalkers (trans. Willa and Edwin Muir; Grosset and Dunlap (Universal Library): 1964; pgs 126-27)
But he had refrained from suicide because he had to provide for Ruzena, and for that he needed Bertrand's advice: "Listen, Bertrand, I expect I'll have to take over the estate now; but Ruzena needs some means of livelihood and an occupation, and I thought first of buying her a shop or something of that kind . . ." ("Aha," said Bertrand) "but she won't hear of it. So I'd like to settle some money on her. How does one do that?"It's an average example of the long, well-crafted – often wonderfully crafted – sentences that fills The Sleepwalkers. But put here because of the dialogic parenthetical (parenthetical dialogue?). Obviously, the moment of confusion here resolved was set up earlier in the text; and, I a sure most knowledged readers would have caught scent at that earlier moment of what was being set up. Nonetheless, it was brilliantly executed: with patience, grace, no sense of self-advertisement. A wonderful moment.
• From F.R. Leavis's Revaluation: Tradition and Development in English Poetry (1947; pg 158)
The earlier, it will be noticed, is by very much more explicit.Love the construction; more so in context. Leavis occasionally has such moments, though I don't know if they are idiosyncratic to himself alone or to his place and time.
• From André Gide's The Immoralist (1902; trans. Richard Howard, 1970; pg 69)
No horizon; woodes full of mystery; a few plowed fields, but mostly meadows, hilly pasturage where the thick grass is mowed twice a year, where the many apple trees mingle their shadows when the sun is low, where the herds graze unattended; in each hollow, water: pond, pool or stream; you hear a continual trickling.Very simply, a lovely sentence, wonderfully constructed with full consideration of its ideation.
• From the book accompanying a CD of Rachmaninov's Francesca da Rimini.
Rachmaninov is on his firmest ground in hell.What I love about this sentence is how it demonstrates so wonderfully a kind of play possible with language, a kind of pun, a language event I love to find: a sentence that when followed within context flows without a hitch, and yet which, when isolated, creates something of a different meaning. What separates this from sloppy writing is the first part.
• Melville, Moby Dick (1967 Norton Critical Edition, pg 97).
Ship and boat diverged; the cold, damp night breeze blew between; a screaming gull flew overhead; the two hulls wildly rolled; we gave three heavy-hearted cheers, and blindly plunged like fate into the lone Atlantic.This is the last sentence of chapter 22, the moment where the Pequod is finally off and alone on her voyage. The sentence alone works incredibly well, with the semi-colon marked list; but, moreso in context, when the chapter of the pilot-owners' departure comes to its point, and, after twenty-two chapters, we are finally at sea.
I won’t talk to you any more because you do not listen, and you do not hear, except to your own voice, and what you want to hear.Grammatically correct, with a curious ABAB structure – playing with parallelism. I debate whether to put a comma between "more" and "because." It is not necessary, but permitted. I leave it out to de-emphasize the natural pause, there, so as to not distract from the energies of the structure.
• Proust, Swann's Way (Moncrieff-Kilmartin-Enright 1998 paperback edition, pg 156).
Higher up on the altar, a flower had opened here and there with a careless grace, holding so unconcernedly, like a final, almost vaporous adornment, its bunch of stamens, slender as gossamer and entirely veiling each corolla, that in following, in trying to mimic to myself the action of their efflorescence, I imagined it as a swift and thoughtless movement of the head, with a provocative glance from her contracted pupils, by a young girls in white, insouciant and vivacious.This is the long standing champion of the My Favorite Sentence Ever competition. Everything is about the movement of focus within that sentence, and the brilliant placing of "her" before "girl" to cap it off. And to be honest, I found it by accident. I haven't yet at this time read the book.