Run on, you crazy sentence...

WARNING: This post will not be pleasing to those with a low tolerance for prolix, verbose, circumlocutory, garrulous writing, especially if that tolerance is lower still in instances where the aforementioned writing is being fustian just for the sake of being fustian.

ADDENDUM: Now while it may be true that I said, thinking at the time that I was speaking the truth, that I would post only once per week, in actual fact, because of the plain fact that there are far too many apocalyptic signs that require prompt classification for me to limit my posts in such an extreme and, indeed, unwarranted manner, I will heretofore post as often as I see necessary, although I shall (in keeping with last week's insight) reserve my best post of the week for Sunday evening.

After reading a sentence (constructed by David Foster Wallace) which had been published in an issue of Toro Magazine, I was shocked to discover that this sentence -- which was a mere 205 words in length, words which I counted with my own well-manicured index finger -- this sentence, which seemed to my mind to be a regular run-of-the-mill sentence, was being held up as "the infinite run-on sentence."

What kind of a world do we live in that we have forgotten about James Joyce and William Faulkner and even The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez where each chapter is a single paragraph and now believe this admittedly long, but certainly not long-winded, sentence by David Foster Wallace to be some sort of a triumph for sentence-length enthusiasts?

With the primary intention of defending my belief that a beautiful sentence is long and winding like the finer hiking trails which meander through the Swiss alps near Bern and a secondary intention of demonstrating that short, clear sentences are for feeble-minded individuals who do not have sufficient syntactical landscape to observe a full-bodied sentence in its entire length, I shall type up a single-sentence quotation from William Faulkner, the lengthiness of which is, I believe, as-yet unsurpassed.

"Oh yes, I know: 'Rosa Coldfield, lose him, weep him; caught a man and couldn't keep him' -- Oh yes, I know (and kind too; they would be kind): Rosa Coldfield, warped bitter orphaned country stick called Rosa Coldfield, safely engaged at last and so off the town, the county; they wil have told you: How I went out there to live for the rest of my life, seeing in my nephew's murdering an act of God enabling me ostensibly to obey my dying sister's request that I save at least one of the two children which she had doomed by conceiving them but actually to be in the house when he returned who, being a demon, would therefore be impervious to shot and shell and so would return; I waiting for him because I was young still (who had buried no hopes to bugles, beneath a flag) and ripe for marrying in this time and place where most of the young men were dead and all the living ones either old or already married or tired, too tired for love; he my best my only chance in this: an environment where at best and even lacking war my chances would have been slender enough since I was not only a Southern gentlewoman but the very modest character of whose background and circumstances must needs be their own affirmation since had I been the daughter of a wealthy planter I could have married almost anyone but being the daughter merely of a small store-keeper I could even afford to accept flowers from almost no one and so would have been doomed to marry at last some casual apprentice-clerk in my father's business; -- Yes, they will have told you: who was young and had buried hopes only during night which was four years long when beside a shuttered and unsleeping candle she embalmed the War and its heritage of suffering and injustice and sorrow on the backsides of the pages within an old account book, embalming blotting from the breathable air the poisonous secret effluvium of lusting and hating and killing; -- they will have told you: daughter of an embusque who had to turn to a demon, a villain: and therefore she had been right in hating her father since if he had not died in that attic she would not have had to go out there to find food and protection and shelter and if she had not had to depend on his food and clothing (even if she did help to grow and weave it) to keep her alive and warm until simple justice demanded that she make what return for it he might require of her commensurate with honor she would not have become engaged to him and if she had not become engaged to him she would hot have had to lie at night asking herself Why and Why and Why as she has done for forty-three years: as if she had been instinctively right even as a child in hating her father and so these forty-three years of impotent and unbearable outrage were the revenge of some sophisticated and ironic sterile nature on her for having hated that which gave her life."

- William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!, pg. 137, 1936, 532 words!


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