Thanks for stopping by! If you like what you read, tell your friends! If you don't like what you read, tell your enemies! Either way, please post a comment, even if it's just to tell us how much we suck! (We're really needy!) You can even follow us @JasonBerner! Or don't! See if we care!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Quest for the Perfect Sentence

Busy day today, so I just thought I'd share with you this little nugget of a sentence I came across last night, from Atonement by Ian McEwan.  It describes the atmosphere in London in the early days of World War II, before the Germans began bombing:

"The dead were not yet present, the absent were presumed alive."


That, by the way, is more or less an example of chiasmus--a sort of "reverse parallelism," where the elements of the first part of a sentence are switched around in the second part.  A simple example of chiasmus would be something like, "If you're looking for a fight, then a fight you shall have."  The writer uses the rhetorical device to express with a minimal number of words a relatively complex thought: Nobody in London was dying yet, and the soldiers who were away fighting in France could safely be assumed to be alive--at least until further information was revealed.  The sentence is pretty, too: beginning and ending on strong beats, it has a sort of "u-shaped" rhythm.  Well done, indeed, Mr. McEwan.

No comments:

Post a Comment