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sentences

Posted 5/10/2011 7:45am by Eugene Wyatt.

Cats know exactly where they begin and end. When they walk slowly out the door that you are holding open for them and pause, leaving their tail just an inch or two inside the door, they know it. They know you have to keep holding the door open. That is why their tail is there. It is a cat's way of maintaining a relationship.

Ursula K. LeGuin quoted in Artful Sentences, Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte to exemplify the chapter on dependant clauses.

Tags: Sentences
Posted 4/17/2011 7:36pm by Eugene Wyatt.

This morning's reading:

"Adjectival styles often succeed in nonfiction descriptions of first­hand experience. A cellist calls on adjectives…to answer the question, "How do the members of a string quartet play together and tour together year in and year out, without killing each other?" Below, the adjectives are italicized...

Conversely, there is a danger that individual criticisms can become destructively hurtful and bitter. If they are voiced too harshly and personally, no one ends up in a fit state to play. After all, the deep feelings conjured up when we play great music already make us feel vulnerable. In addition, nearly all playing requires maximum self-confidence and complete physi­cal ease and relaxation, even (or especially) in music of great intensity and ardour, or that is rapturous or celebratory

David Waterman, "Four's a Crowd"

From Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style Virginia Tufte 2006

Posted 5/27/2010 6:54am by Eugene Wyatt.

Again,

But then, at once, his jealousy, as it had been the shadow of his love, presented him with the complement, /with the converse of that new smile with which she had greeted him that very evening,—with which, now, perversely, /she was mocking Swann while she tendered her love to another—of that lowering of her head, but lowered now to fall on other lips, /and (but bestowed upon a stranger) of all the marks of affection that she had shewn to him. /And all these voluptuous memories which he bore away from her house were, as one might say, but so many sketches, rough plans, /like the schemes of decoration which a designer submits to one in outline, enabling Swann to form an idea of the various attitudes, /aflame or faint with passion, which she was capable of adopting for others. /With the result that he came to regret every pleasure that he tasted in her company, /every new caress that he invented (and had been so imprudent as to point out to her how delightful it was), /every fresh charm that he found in her, for he knew that, a moment later, /they would go to enrich the collection of instruments in his secret torture-chamber.

Swann's Way  Marcel Proust 1913; as delivered to my iPhone by Twitter;  translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1922.

Posted 4/22/2010 8:09am by Catskill Merino.

"...he says something, not because it is true but because he enjoys saying it, and listens to his own voice uttering the words as though they came from some one else..."

Marcel Proust, 1913

Posted 4/19/2010 8:43pm by Catskill Merino.

This time on Twitter @proustrSwann's Way*, once every hour, 140 characters at a time or "Actually...phrase(s) at a time, where a phrase is a...way to break up a sentence at a logical point."

From chapter three, Swann in Love, the following sentence was delivered in 5 installments; it began with a tweet at 7:38 AM and concluded with a tweet at 11:38 AM.

But, now that he was in love with Odette, all this was changed; to share her sympathies,

to strive to be one with her in spirit was a task so attractive that he tried to find satisfaction in the things that she liked,

and did find a pleasure, not only in copying her habits but in adopting her opinions, which was all the deeper because,

as those habits and opinions sprang from no roots in her intelligence, they suggested to him nothing except that love,

for the sake of which(,) he had preferred them to his own.

Let Swann's pedantry for beauty, that he subordinates to his love of Odette, be mine for the intriguing Proustian syntax that I savour in this periodic, phrase-by-phrase reading of the novel. 

Does anyone beside me think that the translation needs the parenthetical comma I added?  Here is the sentence as Proust wrote it.

Mais, au contraire, depuis qu’il aimait Odette, sympathiser avec elle, tâcher de n’avoir qu’une âme à eux deux lui était si doux, qu’il cherchait à se plaire aux choses qu’elle aimait, et il trouvait un plaisir d’autant plus profond non seulement à imiter ses habitudes, mais à adopter ses opinions, que, comme elles n’avaient aucune racine dans sa propre intelligence, elles lui rappelaient seulement son amour, à cause duquel il les avait préférées.

You decide; as Shakespeare wrote, but not about your French, "...but that was in another country and besides the wench is dead."

*Du côté de chez Swann translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.

Posted 11/25/2009 6:29pm by Catskill Merino.

Love's pendulum:

When he came away from Odette, he was happy, he felt calm, he recalled the smile with which, in gentle mockery, she had spoken to him of this man or of that, a smile which was all tenderness for himself; he recalled the gravity of her head which she seemed to have lifted from its axis to let it droop and fall, as though against her will, upon his lips, as she had done on that first evening in the carriage; her languishing gaze at him while she lay nestling in his arms, her bended head seeming to recede between her shoulders, as though shrinking from the cold.

But then, at once, his jealousy, as it had been the shadow of his love, presented him with the complement, with the converse of that new smile with which she had greeted him that very evening—with which, now, perversely, she was mocking Swann while she tendered her love to another—of that lowering of her head, but lowered now to fall on other lips, and (but bestowed upon a stranger) of all the marks of affection that she had shewn to him. And all these voluptuous memories which he bore away from her house were, as one might say, but so many sketches, rough plans, like the schemes of decoration which a designer submits to one in outline, enabling Swann to form an idea of the various attitudes, aflame or faint with passion, which she was capable of adopting for others. With the result that he came to regret every pleasure that he tasted in her company, every new caress that he invented (and had been so imprudent as to point out to her how delightful it was), every fresh charm that he found in her, for he knew that, a moment later, they would go to enrich the collection of instruments in his secret torture-chamber.

—Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann, 1913.  Translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.

Posted 11/24/2009 1:32pm by Catskill Merino.

A forbidden visit:

Even before he saw Odette, even if he did not succeed in seeing her there, what a joy it would be to set foot on that soil where, not knowing the exact spot in which, at any moment, she was to be found, he would feel all around him the thrilling possibility of her suddenly appearing: in the courtyard of the Château, now beautiful in his eyes since it was on her account that he had gone to visit it; in all the streets of the town, which struck him as romantic; down every ride of the forest, roseate with the deep and tender glow of sunset—innumerable and alternative hiding-places, to which would fly simultaneously for refuge, in the uncertain ubiquity of his hopes, his happy, vagabond and divided heart.

—Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann, 1913.  Translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.

Posted 11/15/2009 8:36am by Catskill Merino.

A good cup of tea:

He would escort her to her gate, but no farther. Twice only had he gone inside to take part in the ceremony—of such vital importance in her life—of ‘afternoon tea.’ The loneliness and emptiness of those short streets (consisting, almost entirely, of low-roofed houses, self-contained but not detached, their monotony interrupted here and there by the dark intrusion of some sinister little shop, at once an historical document and a sordid survival from the days when the district was still one of ill repute), the snow which had lain on the garden-beds or clung to the branches of the trees, the careless disarray of the season, the assertion, in this man-made city, of a state of nature, had all combined to add an element of mystery to the warmth, the flowers, the luxury which he had found inside...

Odette had received him in a tea-gown of pink silk, which left her neck and arms bare. She had made him sit down beside her in one of the many mysterious little retreats which had been contrived in the various recesses of the room, sheltered by enormous palmtrees growing out of pots of Chinese porcelain, or by screens upon which were fastened photographs and fans and bows of ribbon. She had said at once, “You’re not comfortable there; wait a minute, I’ll arrange things for you,” and with a titter of laughter, the complacency of which implied that some little invention of her own was being brought into play, she had installed behind his head and beneath his feet great cushions of Japanese silk, which she pummelled and buffeted as though determined to lavish on him all her riches, and regardless of their value...

She poured out Swann’s tea, inquired “Lemon or cream?” and, on his answering “Cream, please,” went on, smiling, “A cloud!” And as he pronounced it excellent, “You see, I know just how you like it.”

This tea had indeed seemed to Swann, just as it seemed to her, something precious, and love is so far obliged to find some justification for itself, some guarantee of its duration in pleasures which, on the contrary, would have no existence apart from love and must cease with its passing,* that when he left her, at seven o’clock, to go and dress for the evening, all the way home, sitting bolt upright in his brougham, unable to repress the happiness with which the afternoon’s adventure had filled him, he kept on repeating to himself: “What fun it would be to have a little woman like that in a place where one could always be certain of finding, what one never can be certain of finding, a really good cup of tea.”

—Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann, 1913.  Translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.

*À la recherche d'amor perdu, my emphasis.

Posted 11/8/2009 7:33pm by Catskill Merino.

On a phrase from an imaginary sonata:

With a slow and rhythmical movement it led him (Swann) here, there, everywhere, towards a state of happiness, noble, unintelligible, yet clearly indicated. And then, suddenly having reached a certain point from which he was prepared to follow it, after pausing for a moment, abruptly it changed its direction, and in a fresh movement, more rapid, multiform, melancholy, incessant, sweet, it bore him off with it towards a vista of joys unknown. Then it vanished. He hoped, with a passionate longing, that he might find it again, a third time. And reappear it did, though without speaking to him more clearly, bringing him, indeed, a pleasure less profound. But when he was once more at home he needed it, he was like a man into whose life a woman, whom he has seen for a moment passing by, has brought a new form of beauty, which strengthens and enlarges his own power of perception, without his knowing even whether he is ever to see her again whom he loves already, although he knows nothing of her, not even her name. 

—Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann, 1913.  Translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.

Posted 2/8/2009 7:13pm by Catskill Merino.

By February you’re dreaming of Spring, you've had enough of Winter, the cold hands, the wet feet, the slippery ice, the layer upon layer of bulky clothing—the frigidness never ends—but when it does, Spring will seem to have come too soon with its warm temperatures that turn January snow into March rain to become seas of mud that you slog through, going slowly from chore to chore, wearing slip-on rubber boots to keep your feet dry, step by cautious step, trying not to step out of your boot when it sinks in and gets stuck above the ankle,  because if your foot does come out of your boot, to keep your balance, you’ll have to put that stocking foot down in the icy, umber muck (half mud, half manure) to not fall face dowm into itand there you'll be: one foot in and one foot out, one foot dry and one foot wet (the cold goo oozes between your toes)—and you can't put that foot back into the boot  (it'll be ruined if you do); so, one boot in-hand, one boot on-foot, you hobble to firmer ground, foolishly dreaming of Summer.

Posted 1/21/2009 8:04pm by Catskill Merino.
D700 Ewe

Just minutes before sunset, the temperature dropping as fast as the sun, ungloved and hand-holding a Nikon D700 mounted with a Nikon 70-200 mm zoom lens—the camera's aperture open wide to capture what was left of the daylight—I got my shot (but to get it with an f/stop of 2.8, I had to give up depth-of-field as you can readily see: the young ewe's eye is in focus while her nose is not) just before my fingers began to feel the pain of 19°F that sent me, stumbling back over the frozen sheep manure, to warm my hands in the truck by clasping them together  humbly, almost prayer-like, in the wondrous gift of heated air blowing from the defroster vent as I mindlessly counted breaths, head bowed, like a wayward monk waiting for zazen to be over, waiting for the pain to be gone; then brown-eyed Poem, whom I'd kept in the cab to not spook the sheep, gave me a sympathetic and heart-warming, wet-nosed kiss on the cheek making me forget my cold hands.

Tags: Sentences
Posted 12/31/2008 5:17pm by Catskill Merino.

Virginai Woolf Knitting by Vanessa Bell

 
Could she knit as well as she wrote?  Read the 178 word opening sentence of her essay On Being Ill which appeared in T. S. Eliot's New Criterion in 1926.  He frowned upon her humor when he read the submission—literature was to be a serious subject—but as the deadline approached, Tom (as she called him) overcame his dour reluctance to publish it.
 
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 to the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of angels and harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist's arm-chair 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, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.