The Paris Review

The Being of the Sentence

In our eight-part series Life Sentence, the literary critic Jeff Dolven takes apart and puts back together one beloved or bedeviling sentence. The artist Tom Toro illustrates each sentence Dolven chooses.

©Tom Toro

There are so many ways to pin a sentence down: the completeness of its thought, the correctness of its grammar; its rhetorical purpose, its narrative closure. Does any of them touch its being?

Night after night this message returns, repeated in the flickering bulbs of the sky, raised past us, taken away from us, yet ours over and over until the end that is past

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