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American Scholar recently published its 11 best sentences… do you agree?
And Roy Peter Clark ‘with respect and gratitude’ has offered interpretations of why they work, which, we – also with respect and gratitude – have summarized below each sentence:
1.Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
An abstract sentence, but starting with something we can see – the trees – and driving towards ace phrase ‘his capacity for wonder’
2. I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
—James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
A ‘feel of anthem or secular credo’, with ‘forge’ meaning the blacksmith’s activity and ‘to fake’
Here’s an extract to whet you:
‘So hiraeth is a protest. If it must be called homesickness, it’s a sickness come on—in Welsh ailments come onto you, as if hopping aboard ship—because home isn’t the place it should have been. It’s an unattainable longing for a place, a person, a figure, even a national history that may never have actually existed. To feel hiraeth is to feel a deep incompleteness and recognize it as familiar.
Mae hiraeth arna amdanot ti. There’s a homesickness on me for you. Or, if we’re mincing words, I miss you. That’s fair, too. But the deeper, national hiraeth is something you don’t have to go away to experience. You can feel it at home in Wales. In fact, that’s where you feel it most.
I’m American, but I have a hiraeth on me for Wales.
Whether you write business books or other types – this is just packed with so many ideas […]