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Amazing Sentence

I am currently reading Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, not because I want to write books, per se, but because I want to be able to teach the fine art of reading and the fine art of writing better. The Atlantic, a few years ago… well, when the book came out, published a nice essay that explains, in part, the art of close reading.

In her chapter titled sentences, she reproduces this opening sentence of Virginia Wolf’s essay On Being Ill.

Now, I’m gonna hafta read the whole essay.

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down into the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist’s armchair and confuse his “Rinse the mouth—rinse the mouth” with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us—when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.

 

Comments

Or, you could just reread The Gay Science.

i think i’ve already packed it up and sent to the storage unit…

then again, anything by nietzsche would apply

While we’re on the subject of the periodic sentence, I may as well point to one of my favorites:

“That praises are without reason lavished on the dead, and that the
honours due only to excellence are paid to antiquity, is a complaint
likely to be always continued by those, who, being able to add
nothing to truth, hope for eminence from the heresies of paradox;
or those, who, being forced by disappointment upon consolatory
expedients, are willing to hope from posterity what the present
age refuses, and flatter themselves that the regard which is yet
denied by envy, will be at last bestowed by time.”