Sunday, March 30, 2014

The American Scholar: Ten Best Sentences - Our Editors

I preach Strunk and White - short sentences, with active verbs, rhythm and sonority.  A good rule for essays, but perhaps not much else.  Read the ten and the many comments that follow.  Joan Didion's grabbed me because I just finished teaching a section on the Supreme Court's efforts to eliminate segregated education "root and branch". 1967 was not a very good year. 

And John Hersey captured the enormity of the ghastly way we finished what Japan started. 
- gwc

The American Scholar: Ten Best Sentences - Our Editors:

It was the United States of America in the cold late spring of 1967, and the market was steady and the G.N.P. high and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose and it might have been a spring of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not.
—Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem
This private estate was far enough away from the explosion so that its bamboos, pines, laurel, and maples were still alive, and the green place invited refugees—partly because they believed that if the Americans came back, they would bomb only buildings; partly because the foliage seemed a center of coolness and life, and the estate’s exquisitely precise rock gardens, with their quiet pools and arching bridges, were very Japanese, normal, secure; and also partly (according to some who were there) because of an irresistible, atavistic urge to hide under leaves.
—John Hersey, Hiroshima

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