Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Old Pretender

So, I've been re-reading The Wings of the Dove after finishing all my real work for the semester.

Then I had to spend an hour sitting around with nothing to do.

So I wrote the following sentence:

"After all, she felt, in her inner self, that she left rather a lot out, on the whole, when it came to pleasing others, so that she was positively obliged, insofar as she considered her general attitude a failure of the ideal, to make up for the absence as much as possible in those simple cases wherein the effort should be, thankfully, not quite too much to bear - and if she was unavoidably conscious of the fact that others - particularly those who, while always serving as attentive and sympathetic auditors of her complaints, were perhaps somewhat removed from or oblivious to the waves more typically spreading from the pebble dropped by her standard inconsistent treatment of her social relations - tended to see her as erring on the side of doing nothing else but too much, as far as her kindnesses were concerned, she rather suspected that no one would be able to sound the abyss of cynicism she knew to lie behind the gilded mask of her compassionate veneer better than she herself could."

I am rather proud of myself.

If nothing else, I think this provides strong evidence for the contention I used to make back in my Henry James and Flaubert course in graduate school (which had something of an unfortunate tendency to turn into a Henry James versus Flaubert course) that the prose style of Henry James - yes, even the late Henry James! - does a better job of representing my own experience of thought than the prose style of Flaubert!

Constructive criticism is welcome! Writing like late Henry James is interesting - it's much more like writing poetry than writing most prose (although this may be simply because when I'm not going for pastiche I don't bother sufficiently about style when writing prose).

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