Another reason to love long sentences

There is what cannot be said any other way.

I knew what she meant, and in that moment felt as though I had shaken off some of the dust and grit of ten dry years; then and always, however she spoke to to me, in half sentences, single words, stock phrases of contemporary jargon, in scarcely perceptible movements of eyes or lips or hands, however inexpressible her thought, however quick and far it had glanced from the matter in hand, however deep it had plunged, as it often did, straight from the surface to the depths, I knew; even that day when I still stood on the exteme verge of love, I knew what she meant.

Evelyn Waugh: Brideshead Revisited, Book Three, Chapter One

How many perfections can you find in that sentence? I, plunged deeply, for twenty-five years, into the extreme verge of love, I know exactly what he means, and I, absorbed in his craftsmanship, following him clause by clause, phrase by phrase, word by word, conjuntion by conjunction, and punctuation mark by punctuation mark, like a hunter on a scent or a gardener in the evening cool, moving or still – moving and still – I love the way he said it.

Waugh’s provides an exemplar for people who follow the Ben Franklin approach to learning to write by imitation of form. Give it a shot and watch as your mind follows the architecture of a sentence into the depths of a thought.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: