JLS (jlsjlsjls) wrote,

Carry on reading ...

Wow, it HAS been a long time since I read Zelazby's Dilvish the Damned and The Changing Land. So many forgotten details of plot and wording joyfully rediscovered. Including, and I can't believe this one ever managed to slip my mind, The Great Sentence in "The Changing Land". Not its official name, that I've ever heard of, but I always thought of it as that; it's impressive because ... well, you recall how your teachers always preached against run-on sentences? It's not actually true that they're bad grammar or composition or whatever. It's just that they're usually so poorly and incoherently phrased that they're better off not happening (and it's less work to tell kids they're forbidden than explain why). But once in a while a really good writer can get away with it ...

The Great Sentence is nearly a full page long in my hardcover edition of this book. And here's how it goes (accompanied by the single considerably shorter sentence that is its partner-in-paragraph):

Monstrously ancient structures of an imposing nature are not in the habit of having been constructed by men. Nor was the Castle Timeless an exception, as most vulnerable cities trace their origins to the architectural enterprise of gods and demi-gods, so the heavy structure in the Kannais which predated them all, and which had over the ages served every conceivable function from royal palace to prison, brothel to university, monastery to abandoned haunt of ghouls--changing even its shape, it was said, to accommodate its users' needs--so it informed with the echoes of all the ages, was muttered by some (with averted eyes and evil-forfending gesture) to be a relic of the days when the Elder Gods walked the earth, a point of their contact with it, a toy, a machine, or perhaps even a strangely living entity, fashioned by those higher powers whose vision transcended that of mankind--whom they had blessed or cursed with the spark of self-consciousness and the ache of curiosity that was the beginning of soul--as mankind's surpassed that of the hairy tree-dwellers counted by some as his kin, for purposes best known only to those shining folk whom it at least served somewhere, somehow as an interdimensional clubhouse before those beings absented themselves to felicity of a higher order, leaving behind the unripened fruits of their meddling in the affairs of otherwise satisfied simians; fashioned, in the opinion of some metaphysicians, on a timeless plane out of spiritual substances and, hence, not truly a part of this grosser world to which it had been transported, consisting as it did of equal measures of good and evil and their more interesting counterparts, love and hate, compounded with a beauty, therefore that was both sinister and beatific, possessed of an aura as absorbent as a psychic sponge and as discriminating, alive in the sense that a man with only a functioning portion of his right hemisphere might be said to live, and anchored in space and time by an act of will imperfect because divided, yet superior to normal earthly vicissitudes for all the unearthly reasons the metaphysician would not care to recite a second time.

And now I'm a few chapters into Changeling, which has much shorter sentences but makes up for that by being chock full o' Esteban Maroto illustrations.
Tags: reading

  • Fibre things

    Still here, work still closed to the public and on 4-day weeks, though for May we've switched to closed on Mondays instead of on Fridays. I'm still…

  • Life in the great indoors

    Work has gone to a four-day work week for April (closed on Fridays) and May (closed on Mondays) and we're all encouraged to work at home whenever…

  • From the Cataloguer's Desktop

    The book notes have been piling up so I finally got 'round to posting a new title list over at catdesk … enjoy!!! This entry was…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.