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Ten Best Sentences

By Our Editors
MARCH 25, 2014
Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby s house, had once pande
red in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory e
nchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent,
compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, fa
ce to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capac
ity for wonder.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
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
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 arc
hing bridges, were very Japanese, normal, secure; and also partly (according to
some who were there) because of an irresistible, atavistic urge to hide under le
aves.
- John Hersey, Hiroshima
It was a fine cry- loud and long- but it had no bottom and it had no top, just c
ircles and circles of sorrow.
- Toni Morrison, Sula
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in o
ur turn?
- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
It was the United States of America in the cold late spring of 1967, and the mar
ket 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 hop
es 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
Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation.
- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
There are many pleasant fictions of the law in constant operation, but there is
not one so pleasant or practically humorous as that which supposes every man to
be of equal value in its impartial eye, and the benefits of all laws to be equal
ly attainable by all men, without the smallest reference to the furniture of the
ir pockets.
- Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

In many ways he was like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions
, a roll of fat jiggling at his belly, slow of foot but always plodding along, a
lways there when you needed him, a believer in the virtues of simplicity and dir
ectness and hard labor.
- Tim O Brien, The Things They Carried
There is nothing more atrociously cruel than an adored child.
- Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
And a bonus:
Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the ye
llow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exception
al happenings, had never stopped there.
- Truman Capote, In Cold Blood
Read why these are the best sentences.
Tell us your favorite sentence in a comment below.
When you re done here, read our favorite passages from Shakespeare and, of course, s
hare your own.
http://bit.ly/1g4Fxyv
@# 1044 comments : https://theamericanscholar.org/ten-best-sentences/#.VVtJAEh8f
y9
@#emailed extract
Dana a year ago
"Three things in life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to b
e kind; and the third is to be kind."--Henry James
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Cicero31 Dana a year ago
What book does this come from?
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Betsy
a year ago
"Hive-spangled, gut roaring with gas and cramp, he survived childhood; at the st
ate university, hand clapped over his chin, he camouflaged torment with smiles a
nd silence." ~ The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
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MEEfO
a year ago
In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they humme
d of mystery.
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
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Kim a year ago
Harper Lee and Atticus Finch cannot be left off this list! There were a few othe
r quotes that I also wanted to include, but they were two sentences.
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his

point of view... Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." spoken by Atticus Finch, written by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
"[Courage is] knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and yo
u see it through no matter what." Harper Lee
@# from all 1044 Comments
Gregory Frost
a year ago
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano
Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to
discover ice.
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
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George Golub Gregory Frost
a year ago
Yes, to discover ice, stopped me on the first page. And I knew that there was a
wondrous ride ahead.
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Isabelle Gregory Frost
a year ago
Ha maybe I should have read this before commenting. Posted the same exact one. A
lthough "The spirit of her invincible heart guided her through the shadows" is a
nother great one from that book. That entire book basically.
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Sreekumar Menon Gregory Frost a year ago
I am so glad somebody picked this.
The following is too long. The sentence ending with "the unspeakable knowledge t
hat everything was lost" should be fine but it won't make sense without the cont
ext:
Ed
rose early the next morning and took a taxi to the Museo Nazionale, cool,
echoey, empty of tourists despite the fact that it was spring. He drifted among
dusty busts of Hadrian and the various Caesars, experiencing a physical
quickening in the presence of so much marble that verged on the erotic. He
sensed the proximity of the Orpheus and Eurydice before he saw it, felt its
cool weight across the room but prolonged the time before he faced it,
reminding himself of the events leading up to the moment it described: Orpheus
and Eurydice in love and newly married; Eurydice dying of a snakebite while
fleeing the advances of a shepherd; Orpheus descending to the underworld,
filling its dank corridors with music from his lyre as he sang of his longing
for his wife; Pluto granting Eurydice s release from death on the sole
condition that Orpheus not look back at her during their ascent. And then the
hapless instant when, out of fear for his bride as she stumbled in the passage,
Orpheus forgot himself and turned.
Ed stepped toward the relief. He felt as if he d walked inside it, so completely
did it enclose and affect him. It was the moment before Eurydice must descend
to the underworld a second time, when she and Orpheus are saying goodbye. What m
oved Ed, mashed some delicate glassware in his chest, was the quiet of their int
eraction, the absence of drama or tears as they gazed at each other,touching gen
tly. He sensed between them an understanding too deep to articulate: the unspeak
able knowledge that everything was lost.
A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan. I wish I could find another word fo
r "interaction", and then it would be perfect.
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stevelaz Sreekumar Menon


a year ago
Yes, a great opening sentences. but usually considered the all-time greatest is
" It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a go
od
fortune must be in want of a wife". The best sentences are often the first sente
nces. .www.openingsentences.com
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Helga Spizman stevelaz
a year ago
Love it! Jane Austen always sooo much with sooo little.
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john s harris Helga Spizman
bottabing you win
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2 months ago

Katherine Mailhot Els Gregory Frost


a year ago
Yes, my favorite line from what continues to be my favorite book.
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Gregory Frost Katherine Mailhot Els
a year ago
I love it, and use it every year in my fiction workshop as an exemplar of a supe
rb opening sentence, and one whose structure I've subsequently found duplicated
in openings by writers as disparate (at least in genre category) as T.C. Boyle a
nd Michael Swanwick.
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Helga Spizman Gregory Frost
a year ago
I also love the opening sentence of "Emma" by Jane Austen. Right off the bat, yo
u get a picture of what lies ahead and it is delicious.
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Roberto Lebron Gregory Frost
a year ago
This is my favorite as well, though it's a translation from Spanish ("Aos despus,
frente al pelotn de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buenda habra de recordar aqu
ella tarde remota en que su padre lo llev a conocer el hielo.") I assumed this li
st included English literature only, but I'm glad for any reason to celebrate La
tin American authors.
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Gregory Frost Roberto Lebron
a year ago
Gracias for this in its original Spanish. I'd long wondered how accurately it ha
d been translated, as that choice of "discovered" seems so critical to the power
and effect of the sentence.
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Roberto Lebron Gregory Frost
a year ago
You are very welcome. I'm glad to say the Gregory Rabassa translation is excelle
nt, considering the extraordinary challenge the Garca Mrquez presents.
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Darrell Kastin Roberto Lebron
a year ago
Marquez said that Rabassa's translation was better than the original. Not bad pr
aise from the author himself. So, I don't think we need to worry about Gregory R
abassa's work. He's always done excellent translations from both Spanish and Por
tuguese.
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Roberto Lebron Darrell Kastin


a year ago
I didn't know Garca Mrquez said that! Thanks for sharing it.
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Darrell Kastin Roberto Lebron
You are welcome, Roberto.
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a year ago

paul herman Gregory Frost


a year ago
I agree Gregory, but I think "conocer el hielo" is translated both better & more
accurately as "to know ice." what do you think?
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Darrell Kastin paul herman
a year ago
"His father took him to know ice" just doesn't do it. Doesn't do justice to the
meaning of the sentence, whereas "to discover ice," sounds great. A translator's
job is not to translate every line literally. That's what makes it such a fine
and difficult art.
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Tiffany Lynne Gregory Frost
a year ago
Yes! I immediately thought of that one as well.
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JMG Gregory Frost 6 months ago
And the writer knows this... how?
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LSPaull Gregory Frost
Best of all!
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a year ago

Jon Trew Gregory Frost


a year ago
How they missed out 100 years of Solitude? - possibly because Marquez was South
American and a friend of Castro? Far better than some of the weak choices in the
list. While Tim O'Brien and John Hersey are good writers they are simply not in
the same league as Marquez and time with prove this to be so.
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JMG Jon Trew
6 months ago
Only among left-leaning readers in Spanish-speaking countries would it ever be t
hought so.
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Ramona Johnson Gregory Frost
a year ago
Yes, this is exactly the sentence I was thinking of when I saw the headline on t
his article.
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Daniel Carpenter a year ago
"The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't." Hitchhiker's
Guide to t
he Galaxy, Douglas Adams
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Grace-Ann Daniel Carpenter
a year ago
"Professor Urban Chronotis, the Regius Professor of Chronology, or Reg as he insis
ted on being called, had a memory that he himself had once compared to the Queen
Alexandra Birdwing Butterfly, in that it was colorful, flitted prettily hither
and thither, and was now, alas, almost completely extinct.
"

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Douglas Adams


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DentedSyke Grace-Ann
10 months ago
One of my favorites, Grace-Ann. A superb line that will never lose its power.
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Ralphus Daniel Carpenter
a year ago
"Don't forget to love, don't forget to listen. In our hearts we have lived a tho
usand lives."
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
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mrfuga0 Ralphus a year ago
What is this line from? It's not from The Great Gatsby, as far as I know. If it
is, can you tell me where?
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Frank Corley Ralphus
a year ago
That was two sentences. Doesn't count.
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les Ralphus a year ago
The sentence isn't from The Great Gatsby...
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Cuneo les a year ago
Maybe it's from the recent movie remake/re-imagining/re-writing/re-editing of Fi
tzgerald's writing.
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Terance Schmidt Daniel Carpenter
a year ago
Might be the single best line in all of English literature.
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1EdMeadows83 Terance Schmidt
a year ago
I like this sentence from those included in the article, "In many ways he was li
ke America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions, a roll of fat jiggli
ng at his belly, slow of foot but always plodding along, always there when you n
eeded him, a believer in the virtues of simplicity and directness and hard labor
."
- Tim O Brien, The Things They Carried
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jackpollack 1EdMeadows83
a year ago
Sounds like a short story line that Rbt Redford used in The Way We Were.
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Susan_2KoP jackpollack
a year ago
Yes, i thought of that same line. "In a way he was like the country he lived in,
everything came too easily to him."
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Aaron Terance Schmidt
a year ago
I don't know if I'd go that far. It's a great line but there have been so many s
trokes of brilliance in English literature and comparing that to "I could be bou
nded in a nutshell and call myself the king of infinite space, were it not for m

y bad dreams," seems like a stretch to me.


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rich Daniel Carpenter
Gets my vote!
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a year ago

Lissa Gay Daniel Carpenter


a year ago
Well I'll be! That's my favorite too.
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I Farm Therefore I Am
a year ago
I went to the woods because I wished to live
deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I
could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived. Thoreau
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Heather I Farm Therefore I Am
a year ago
Unfortunately, Thoreau didn't go to the woods. Thoreau went into Emerson's back
garden.
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calucius Heather a year ago
and douglas adams didn't hitchhike across the galaxy. What's your point?
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Heather calucius a year ago
That's an illogical point, since _Walden_ was non-fiction and _Hitchhiker's Guid
e to the Galaxy_ was science fiction. Apples to oranges. The entirety of _Walden
_ focuses on wanting to go into the "wild", with which Thoreau was utterly fasci
nated; to depart from the hustle, bustle, and the demands of mid-19th Century Am
erica to seek meaning. Going into Emerson's back garden doesn't quite qualify as
the woods, nor as "sucking the marrow out of life". Any modern literary critic
would observe that Thoreau, for the duration of his career and especially in _Wa
lden_, was strangling in his own series of contradictions. Thanks for your respo
nse, though; it's still a good sentence, just doesn't match with Thoreau.
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awoodash Heather a year ago
Heather I think you're mixing up two things. Thoreau built a garden at Emerson's
family's house, if that's what you're referring to. But he "went to the woods"
at Walden Pond, which was in fact land owned by Emerson but it was exactly that
-- woods. No one lived there, there were no structures. Back then it didn't take
a whole lot of distance to remove oneself from society. He wasn't trying to be
an explorer, he was trying to live simply and get some peace and quiet!
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Nicholas Gregory awoodash
amen sister
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a year ago

davidburress Heather
a year ago
Thoreau's answer was: "I have traveled a good deal in Concord."
There is no square inch of the earth's surface unaffected by humanity and also n
o square inch where nature has been excluded. Thoreau found nature where he look
ed.
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peterlborst davidburress

a year ago

> There is no square inch of the earth's surface unaffected by humanity and also
no square inch where nature has been excluded. -- Oh, and if only more people r
ealized the truth of that. Well said.
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Sarva Heather a year ago
Heather, it wasn't Emerson's garden, it was a stretch of woods on property that
Emerson owned but left wild. Thoreau lived off the land for the duration of his
stay in the cabin on Walden Pond.
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Vastus Erantus Heather
a year ago
As others have taken the time to correct Heather on her erroneous understanding
of "woods" at that time and place in history, I will merely give her the chance
to question her admiration for "modern literary critics" by using two great Thor
eau sentences:
"There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers. Yet it is ad
mirable to profess because it was once admirable to live."
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Rick Zimmerman Heather
a year ago
Actually, the site on which Thoreau built his famous cabin was on 14 acres Emers
on had purchased to supplement the land he had already owned around Walden Pond.
Thus, this would certainly qualify as a woods, rather than "a garden."
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A_Sound_Bite Rick Zimmerman
I thought it was 12.5 acres.
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3 months ago

I Farm Therefore I Am Heather


a year ago
It makes no difference if Thoreau went into Emerson's woods or into Starbucks or
into your personal fantasies. What matters is the sentence. And what matters wa
y more than the sentence is the idea. You, friend, need to get out of graduate s
chool.
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Nicholas Gregory Heather
a year ago
the best ship sails a zig zag line.........
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GTA_John Heather
a year ago
Today's word, class, is "metaphor".
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Jeff Barnes Heather
Ha
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a year ago

John Dykers Heather


a year ago
Did not Thoreau lash himself to the top of a great tall pine and ride out a fier
ce storm there?
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Ari John Dykers a year ago
It was indeed Muir, and it's a stunning piece of writing. You can reread it here
, if you're interested: http://pweb.jps.net/~prichins/...
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sawbuck John Dykers


a year ago
i believe that was john muir, who lashed himself to a douglas fir....
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John Dykers sawbuck
a year ago
You may be right. Thanks, I don't remember and have not looked it up yet. I do r
emember the description of the storm and how frightened I would have been and th
ankful that I had better sense than to do such a thing, or at least that I alrea
dy knew about lightening. But it was not dissimilar to my being in a 27 foot pow
erboat in the middle of the Gulf Stream, lost, separated from 2 companion vessel
s as I had to keep heading into the 20 foot seas to avoid sinking! Before GPS! F
inding Bimini was almost pure luck and nearly swamped going into the harbor. Tie
d up, took two steps on the dock and collapsed! There were 80 foot yachts that h
ad stayed in port at Bimini because of the weather. Our forecast leaving Ft. Lau
derdale had been clear with scattered thunderstorms; all of them converged on me
!
Shortly past the point on no return I encountered the Andros Engineer boat who l
iterally pointed my way! My rightfully terrified wife cringed in the pounding bo
w of the boat, the worst place to be and no help steering or navigating. I sway
in the top of the tree, just remembering. Too focused on surviving to be frighte
ned until collapsing on the dock; even now feeling the nausea of the fear I shou
ld have felt then.
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sawbuck John Dykers
a year ago
ouch. sounds like you had the gods on your side that day. awesome tale. one for
the books...
i once was stuck out surfing in 15 foot closed out surf during a big winter stor
m, up in bolinas bay. should've tipped me off that i was the only clod within a
mile of the beach. stuck out there for over an hour, duck diving, fighting over
lips, waiting for something i could belly in, freezing, more and more tired, fig
hting panic, the ocean a huge angry mess. never was so happy as when my fins scr
aped into the sand. laid there exhausted in the rain, in my wetsuit, for probabl
y fifteen minutes, like a piece of seaweed. young, overconfident and dumb. could
've ended quite badly. we live and learn (or die screwing up). i had a wildernes
s instructor who was fond of saying, "remember, kiddies, nature bats last".
i only know that was muir because i recently took my six year old to a cookout a
t the john muir house in martinez, ca. a ranger told the story. meaning to read
his books... along those lines, i've really enjoyed the first two or three tom b
rown jr. books. then they got weird...
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Connor I Farm Therefore I Am
a year ago
"Life is too short, make the most of it"
-Tom Cassel
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dcw Connor
a year ago
"Life Is Too Short" is the title of Mickey Rooney's autobiography.
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Mike Victor I Farm Therefore I Am
Beautiful. It's got my vote.
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a year ago

Jesse
a year ago
After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers,
and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by and by she let it out th

at Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn't care no more a
bout him, because I don't take no stock in dead people.
Mark Twain from Huckleberry Finn
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rschwartz Jesse a year ago
This isn't the first line of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Aren't we looking t
he notable openings?
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Mike Victor rschwartz
a year ago
No. Any sentence will do (as far as I know). I wish there were more explicit gui
delines to avoid so many self-appointed school marms... ;)
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Arnetta
a year ago
In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of
the cow jumping over the moon. - Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
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CurtCarpenter
a year ago
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
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Tim Chambers CurtCarpenter
a year ago
Yes! The original is: ??? ?????????? ????? ?????? ???? ?? ?????, ?????? ???????????? ?
???? ??????????? ??-??????.
I prefer this translation: All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy
family is unhappy in its own way.
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Anthony Patrinos Tim Chambers
Leo Tolstoy, 'Anna Karenina'
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a year ago

Laurent Low Anthony Patrinos


a year ago
I really don't understand why this idea has such currency. In my view, it's not
even remotely true. I can think of and imagine many modes of happiness which don
't resemble one another in the least.
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Guest Laurent Low a year ago
I thought it was the sentence that counted, not the idea.
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Laurent Low Guest a year ago
Can the words of a sentence really be separated from the idea they convey? I don
't think so.
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RodneyWelch Laurent Low a year ago
The statement is true for Tolstoy specifically and somewhat generally true for t
he rest of us
As I understand Tolstoy, the road to happiness, like the road to salvation, was
straight, narrow and singular. He believed there were definite answers to moral
questions. The idea I get from Anna Karenina is that happy families operate from
a sense of order, like a well-functioning machine, where men and women know the

ir role and stay within it; this is the kind of marriage which I think he forese
es for Levin and Kitty. A working machine operates for one reason: because all t
he parts are unified, doing their job. A machine breaks down for a lot of differ
ent reasons: this wire came loose, that piston wore out. So it goes in a family:
there are many ways the machine can break down.
I'm not going to say I agree with this view -- I don't, exactly -- but I think t
he statement is true in another literary sense. Nobody wants to read a novel abo
ut a happy family. Why? It's uninteresting. Think about it -- happiness is very
predictable. It all turns out nicely in the end. So what? But if you hear of a n
ovel or short story about an unhappy family, particularly involving adultery, tr
agedy or violence -- well, we jump right on it, don't we? We want to know what h
appened -- what was the root cause? Where did it all go badly for these poor peo
ple? Who slapped who first? Who stepped out of line?
You see what I'm saying: there's always more of a story with an unhappy family.
Good families, like good news, are dull.
see more
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Mike Victor RodneyWelch
a year ago
That is true with news as well. We tune in for bad news. It's rare (and dull) to
focus on the 93% of Americans searching for jobs who have them, or the parts of
the world where someone didn't blow himself up at a check point to make a polit
ical statement. All works of fiction have to involve a problem that must be solv
ed or accepted (which is a form of solution). No problem, no literature.
Of course, we could begin with a happy family and watch it unravel as the proble
m presents itself on page 2 or some fatal flaw starts to cause the protagonist t
o unravel. But you are right that there must be some unhappiness at some level o
r no one would be prompted to act, thereby creating drama.
My gripe remains with the assertion that all happy families are alike. Who says?
(Well, Tolstoy, but that doesn't mean he's right.)
For example, you could have an independent, dominant woman married to milquetoas
t, submissive husband and both have managed to make peace with the arrangement.
You could have the opposite or a partnership of equals or two single people who
are perfectly content to enjoy their freedom. You could have a protagonist who i
s an orphan perfectly content to be on his own (Huck Finn) or one longing to bel
ong to a loving family (Oliver Twist).
In most good novels of this era, you have a woman who by convention is forced to
be submissive but at some level is deeply unhappy with this arrangement (one mo
st modern readers and mental health professionals would argue is a recipe for un
happiness) so tries to solve this problem, usually through a means that violates
strict societal taboos, often leading to tragedy (I can think of Madame Bovary
as falling into the same rough parallel conflict and plot structure as Anna Kare
nina in this regard).
Happiness is an even fuzzier concept than unhappiness and can no doubt be arrive
d at through infinite arrangements, not one similar one. Tolstoy, whose model of
happiness was based on a heterosexual monogamous formula he had been taught and
believed in, was perhaps incapable of imagining that other arrangements could b
e tried with much success.
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Guest Laurent Low
a year ago
Yes, they can, in this example, in the sense that the first translation--in my o
pinion, of course--was a better flowing sentence, saying the same thing--conveyi
ng the same idea, if you will--but in a less stumbling, more-pleasing-to-the-ear
manner.

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John Dykers Guest a year ago


It doesn't matter. We are just talking. But for me, the real value of even the m
ost exquisitely constructed sentence is its capacity to transmit an idea from on
e brain to another; presuming an idea to be both valid and valuable, qualities t
hat may be lost in time and place and person, or made whole in other times and p
laces and persons.
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Guest John Dykers a year ago
This is exactly what I'm saying--it's the capacity of a sentence to transmit an
idea--and the sentence I mentioned is the most exquisite, although not longest,
way to transmit that idea.
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Mike Victor Laurent Low
a year ago
I agree. As a psychiatrist, I have never seen two families who are alike, happy
or unhappy. I think it's one of those sentences that sounds as though it should
have depth and be repeated. Readers seem to have a soft spot for generalizations
and compare-and-contrast setups. It's a rhetorical flourish that lulls us into
sometimes avoiding considering the actual content of the sentence too much.
Plus, when a literary giant such as Tolstoy writes it, we all assume he must hav
e had something profound in mind. Maybe he was just under deadline and trying to
figure out a catchy way to begin this massive tome of a book. Maybe it was a pl
ay on a 19th century Russian truism. Who knows? But it never struck me as true o
r particularly helpful, although I love the rest of the book.
And I must admit that it is easier to find patterns of unhappiness than of happi
ness (a dominant and submissive couple; an alcoholic and enabler; a cynical clow
n in a coldly perfectionist family where the truth is censored, etc.) than of ha
ppiness.
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Mike Victor Anthony Patrinos
a year ago
I agree that the idea of sentence is inseparable from the sentence itself. The c
ore objective of writing, whether poetry or prose, is to communicate. A beautifu
lly-crafted sentence (in my opinion) should be beautiful not simply because the
form is aesthetically pleasing but also because it has something to say and says
it well. If the idea expressed by the sentence is fallacious, questionable, or
not very useful even if true, then the sentence can't be all that great. Sophist
ry, circular truisms, and cliches can all sound pleasing to our ear but say very
little.
What is interesting is that although few of us in mental health would agree with
Tolstoy's assertion, there is apparently an Anna Karenina principle in ecology
and even in mathematics that I would argue is obliquely related to the quotation
. According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong), "Jared Diamond in his book Guns
, Germs and Steel... uses this principle to illustrate why so few wild animals h
ave
been successfully domesticated throughout history, as a deficiency in any one of
a great number of factors can render a species undomesticable. Therefore all su
ccessfully domesticated species are not so because of a particular positive trai
t, but because of a lack of any number of possible negative traits."
Again, though, not all domesticated animals are alike as any dog owner knows. Ar
e dogs more different than wolves? Perhaps, although a Siberian Husky may differ
less from a wolf than from a chihuahua. Domesticated cats differ more from dome
sticated snakes than from wildcats.
This Anna Karenina principle as understood out of its original context perhaps w
ould best be summarized as all entities sharing a categorical variable X = TRUE
(family = happy), such that X = Y1 AND Y2 AND Y3 AND ... Yn must have every each
variable Y1 to Yn = TRUE but the range of continuous values above, below, or wi

thin the range that flips the categorical variable to TRUE can vary infinitely.
So, yes, all entities with X = TRUE can only be in that state if each and every
Y variable is TRUE, whereas there are many more possible combinations of false Y
variables (not all unique, however).
see more
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Daniel Carpenter a year ago
I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.
of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
94
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The Lord

Ann Murphy Daniel Carpenter a year ago


Love this. I have borrowed this expression myself on occasion. I've often felt t
his way. Thanks for sharing this one.
2
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Nicholas Gregory Daniel Carpenter
a year ago
the movie "Diva" ..... if you saw it you know.........
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Pat Neidhard a year ago
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, i
t was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of in
credulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the
spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we h
ad nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going dire
ct the other way. A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens
87
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PeriSoft Pat Neidhard a year ago
Leave it to Dickens to craft a sentence which cannot be read aloud without the l
ungs of Pavarotti.
12
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Bill Dougherty PeriSoft a year ago
Dickens' sentence is easy. Try Faulker. You'll be holding your breath longer tha
n a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
8
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Bruce Pat Neidhard
a year ago
In modern usage each of those commas would be replaced with a period so this wou
ld be 16 sentences. Alternately there would be a semicolon rather than a period
between each of the contrasting parts: "It was the best of times; it was the wor
st of times." This is a great passage but not very comparable to many of the oth
er sentences being considered.
2
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Phil Burgess a year ago
MOTHER died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can t be sure.
Albert Camus, The Stranger
87
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Olivia, London Phil Burgess
That's two sentences.
3
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a year ago

Nicholas Gregory Olivia, London


no en Francais...........
3
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a year ago

Mike Victor Nicholas Gregory


a year ago
No, it is two sentences in French as well:
Aujourd hui, Maman est morte. Ou peut-tre hier, je ne sais pas.
- du roman L tranger (1942) d'Albert Camus.
This page (in French) discusses difficulties translating from French to English:
http://bibliobs.nouvelobs.com/...
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SB Phil Burgess a year ago
Great quote, but isn't that Faulkner?
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Thomas Chapman Wing SB
a year ago
Are you thinking of "My mother is a fish," from As I Lay Dying, maybe?
12
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Jordan Halle Thomas Chapman Wing
a year ago
Definitely my favorite chapter in all of literature
7
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Sue McDougald Watson Thomas Chapman Wing
Jewel's mother is a horse.
4
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a year ago

Sarah Peterson Thomas Chapman Wing


a year ago
I was going to post that one as my favorite sentence.
Reply Share
Charles Steak SB
No, he's correct.
9
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a year ago

Pat Patterson
a year ago
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its
several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into
one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the
fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most
beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. Charles Darwin,
On the Origin of Species
82
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Elisa Campbell Pat Patterson
Yes - Darwin.
2
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a year ago

Mike Victor Pat Patterson


a year ago
Another absolutely beautiful sentence of almost religious poetry ending a fantas
tic, revolutionary book.
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Brian
a year ago
When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that sh
e feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes
to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no br
icks and no temples. -- Stephen Crane, "The Open Boat"
77
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AJ Caughey Brian
a year ago
So glad to see Stephen Crane represented. He's underrated.
14
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jackpollack Brian a year ago
"There will Come Soft Rains." That poem has the same idea.
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Tom Crann
a year ago
How about:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the
right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the
work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who
shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all
which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves
and with all nations.
-- Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural
71
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Michael Lamendola Tom Crann a year ago
The Gettysburg address is perhaps one of the most idea stuffed pieces of writing
ever produce. Up there with "all men are created equal"
3
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Jerry Baustian Michael Lamendola
a year ago
A single phrase, "shall not perish."
3
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Jack Seefeldt
a year ago
"I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one
necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you."
- Annie Dillard, "Living Like Weasels"
64
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Zachary Whitaker Jack Seefeldt
a year ago
Oh, Annie Dillard. The woman is a wizard with words
7
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mseuss Jack Seefeldt
a year ago
My favorite sentence in many years. And I had forgotten it entirely, until this,
here, now.
3
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jackpollack mseuss
a year ago
Speaking of Annie Dillard, try this sentence on for size: "Why are we reading if
not in the hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illum
inate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness
, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries so we may feel again their
majesty and power."
2
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Trudy Zoepfel-Thuline
a year ago
"Our last impression of her as she turned the corner was that smile, flung backw
ard like a handful of flowers." Crossing to Safety ~ Wallace Stegner
92
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Jo Cavins Trudy Zoepfel-Thuline a year ago
Ah, that's one of my favorite books. Thanks for the reminder.

Reply Share

Sterling Soderlind a year ago


"Jesus wept." -- The shortest verse in the Bible.
60
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Celie Cruz Sterling Soderlind
meh
53
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a year ago

srs109 Celie Cruz a year ago


as an atheist with a catholic education, I'd like to point out that there's actu
ally a lot of significance in that verse. to keep it short, jesus is, well, jesu
s; he's this divine, seemingly infallible man, but he weeps at the death of a fr
iend. "jesus wept" recapitulates his humanity in two words.
so, it's not necessarily something to be met with a "meh". maybe bible verses al
l look like knock-knock jokes to you, I don't know
70
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Teresa Marie Allen srs109 a year ago
Thank you for that observation srs109. I agree with you emphatically that "Jesus
wept" depicts His humanity. I wonder though, why do you think weeping for a fri
end is a failure?
2
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SamHamilton Teresa Marie Allen
a year ago
Who said it was a failure? srs109 said it recapitulates his humanity.
1
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Lucy Teresa Marie Allen
a year ago
Perhaps it's a failure only for a god. I mean, gods are immortal, right? Can't t
hey raise the dead, or go back in time and prevent them from dying? So why cry a
bout it? Or maybe, in a Dr. Manhattan-esque way, they are so infinite that a fin
ite human should no more important than a dandelion to them, so to care about su
ch an ephemeral thing would be a flaw. If crying over a friend isn't a flaw, it'
s certainly...odd for a god.
I
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Dave Lucy a year ago
My study of Christianity leads me to this line of thinking: Jesus was without si
n. All suffering is sin. Weeping is suffering.
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Josh Dave a year ago
Obviously suffering can be a result of sin, but it is not true that all sufferin
g in itself is sin. One suffers after getting unjustly beaten, but I fail to see
how the beaten person has sinned in such instance. The victim isn't also the pe
rpetrator.
4
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Dave Josh a year ago
I should have have said that SOME interpretations of scripture may agree. (The m
ore literal ones perhaps?) Their thinking goes something like this: before the F
all there was no suffering. Death and suffering is the penalty for sin.
I doubt srs109 had any intentions of this thread going this way so I apologize f
or that ;)

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Frostine Sterling Soderlind
a year ago
There isn't any artful construction or phrasing or anything actually interesting
or unique or arresting in this "sentence" though. Regardless of the fact that i
t has a lot of significance behind it... I think you're missing the point of thi
s whole exercise.
11
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Lucy Frostine a year ago
The journalist in me appreciates its concision. I think a sentence of only two w
ords that conveys all that meaning is absolutely unique AND elegantly constructe
d.
7
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Vastus Erantus Lucy
a year ago
"A spear." is absolutely meaningless in the context of this discussion. A "great
sentence" needs to stand by itself, and be recognized as great by those who hav
e never read the book and, therefore, cannot put context to it by other sentence
s. "A spear." is "A nothing."
1
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Thomas Chapman Wing Frostine
a year ago
"And then, inevitably, the cops showed up."
5
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Sterling Soderlind Frostine
a year ago
Right on, frostline. I've spent the 88 years of my life missing the point.
Reply Share
BuckMulligan Sterling Soderlind
"A spear." - Heart of Darkness
4
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a year ago

nraden Sterling Soderlind


a year ago
Actually, he sentence "let there be light" in the original Hebrew has the same n
umber of characters. ????? ???? vs ??? ???
2
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OlyJan a year ago
"Of all forms of tyranny, the least attractive and most vulgar is the tyranny of
mere wealth." Teddy Roosevelt
59
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N Mark Kramoltz a year ago
"What I am in the eyes of most people - a nonentity, an eccentric or an unpleasa
nt person - in short the lowest of the low ... even if that were absolutely true
, then I should one day like to show what such a nobody has in his heart" Vincen
t Van Gogh.
52
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Colleen Maranda N Mark Kramoltz a year ago
Master painter, wordsmith and philosopher in one. Such exquisite genius.
4
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Tom Crisp N Mark Kramoltz
a year ago
Beautiful, powerful - and though the "art world" probably congratulates itself o
n being different today, it is so only in that it is worse.
2
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Nick
a year ago
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Samuel Beckett, Murphy
46
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Kathryn Carroll Nick
a year ago
Thanks for adding Samuel Beckett to the discussion! He writes so many truths so
uniquely.
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Gary Brown a year ago
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
42
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Gary Brown Gary Brown a year ago
Beautiful words about beautiful words about beautiful words
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Dana Gary Brown a year ago
Wondrous, haunting
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MIke Robbins a year ago
"Shut up," he explained. --Ring Lardner
80
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Ken Ade MIke Robbins
a year ago
A summary of most political discussions. Thanks for remembering
4
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Jeff Lynch MIke Robbins
a year ago
Ring Landner. He's so great!!
3
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Tom Crisp MIke Robbins
a year ago
A master class in four words.
1
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Stephen Dedalus
a year ago
"All of a sudden I slid right down her voice into her living room." Updike's "A&
P"
38
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Kim Peacock a year ago
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;

Whose misadventured piteous overthrows


Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
38
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Cicero31 Kim Peacock
a year ago
There are a hundred or more quotations from Shakespeare that would trump any on
this list.
15
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Phil Pros Kim Peacock a year ago
"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge the desert when the drugs began to
take hold" - Hunter Thompson
Not in the top ten by any means, but worth a mention....
8
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stacymus a year ago
"As Grainier drove along in the wagon behind a wide, slow, sand-colored mare, cl
usters of orange butterflies exploded off the purple blackish piles of bear sign
and winked and winked and fluttered magically like leaves without trees." -- De
nis Johnson, Train Dreams, p. 50)
31
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Bill Skinner stacymus a year ago
Amazing---thank you for making my
3
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stacymus Bill Skinner
...
3
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a year ago

katms stacymus
a year ago
That whole slight book could be listed here. I was blown away by Denis Johnson,
got it as a gift.
2
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Vastus Erantus stacymus
a year ago
Pothead imagery. Anyone can write that stuff all day long.
1
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stacymus Vastus Erantus
a year ago
Ah, you have recommendations, then?
Reply Share
Vastus Erantus stacymus
Sure.

a year ago

"As for your high towers and monuments, there was a crazy fellow once in this
town who undertook to dig through to China, and he got so far that, as he said,
he heard the Chinese pots and kettles rattle; but I think that I shall not go
out of my way to admire the hole which he made." Thoreau
"That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or
be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him." Melville, Moby
Dick
"Nothing is worse than a woman, even a good one." Menander
"Only that day dawns to which we are awake." Thoreau
"No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize, that as a thinker it is h
is first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead." John
Stuart Mill
"The death of dogma is the birth of reality." Kant
"I can't run no more,
With that lawless crowd,
While the killers in high places say their prayers out loud."
Leonard Cohen
3
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Mike Victor Vastus Erantus
a year ago
Vastus, why not post these (or one of them) where others can see them, rather th
an buried as a reply to a reply? Perhaps the idea of subjecting yourself to the
same sort of nasty comments to which you subject others is too painful? No?
I think the idea of criticizing someone else's choice of literature is about as
meaningful an exercise as criticizing their choice of ice cream flavor or of spo
use. Those who do not agree with you are not stupid, and those who agree with yo
u might not be all that bright. Literature transcends those sorts of things in m
y humble opinion (or should). I really hope you are not an English teacher or pr
ofessor because your attitude could crush the next generation of writers and rea
ders who might feel that nothing should be written or read until and unless it c
annot be mocked by someone such as yourself.
2
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David H. Relkin Vastus Erantus


3 months ago
To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your privat
e heart is true for all men, - that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and
it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost
,- and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Jud
gment.
Emerson-Self Reliance
but I cheated and used the second sentence.
Reply Share

Mike Victor Vastus Erantus


a year ago
> "The death of dogma is the birth of reality." Kant
Surprising, coming from someone whose every comment seems to reflect a hidden, r
igid, dichotomous dogma by which you judge others.
Reply Share
Robert Campbell
a year ago
So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose
style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects
and scraps of useless information. --George Orwell.
29
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missoularedhead a year ago
"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." William Gibson, Neuromancer
27
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S B missoularedhead a month ago
So glad you included this. The first time I read it it was like getting plugged
into 110volts AC with the announcement. 'You, reader, are in for a hell of a rid
e '
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Peter O'Connell
a year ago
He was born with the gift of laughter and the sense that the world was mad. --"S
caramouche" by Rafael Sabatini
27
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Jeff a year ago
It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one
, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
-Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (that whole paragraph is great, but this sum
med it all up)
26
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Eric Ferrer a year ago
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
26
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Mike Victor Eric Ferrer a year ago
If you are assigning this to Hemingway, he probably never wrote it. http://www.s
nopes.com/language...
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claudewc Mike Victor
a year ago
He doesn't attribute it to Hemingway. You are correcting an error that doesn't e
xist.
4
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Jeff Smith a year ago
". . .for the growing good of the world is partly
dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you
and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived
faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
---George Eliot, Middlemarch
39
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DentedSyke Jeff Smith

10 months ago

This, this is the one line that seared into my brain from that epic book. It res
onates so deeply with unguarded thoughts at 3 in the morning when one cannot get
back to sleep. Great find, Jeff!
Reply Share
John Heiss a year ago
I immediately knew my favorite sentence, from The Great Gadsby
"The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a
mile, jumping over sundials and brick walks and burning gardens - finally when i
t reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the mome
ntum of its run."
24
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Vanessa Schipani a year ago
I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew a
s well.
--Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
24
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I Spy a year ago
"All great and precious things are lonely."
as well as
"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good."
~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden
22
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parmanaut a year ago
His soul swooned softly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the univers
e and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living a
nd the dead.
22
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Sandra Needham parmanaut
Sandra Needham
James Joyce, "The Dead"
1
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a year ago

Dana parmanaut
a year ago
oh, yes, that gentle blanketing of lost life.
Reply Share
QP a year ago
"But, when the chips are down, it is better to be furious with someone you love,
or be frightened for someone you love, than be put through the merciless horror
of being ashamed of someone you love." James Baldwin --Just Above My Head
22
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stacymus QP a year ago
james baldwin is his own awesome sentence.
2
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Devon
a year ago
Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not
living.
-Jonathan Safran Foer.
21
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J. T. Price a year ago
As I write this, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead trying to kil

l me.
Orwell (from memory, not sure about the comma). The first sentence in The Englis
h People.
20
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Linda Abeja a year ago
My favorite sentence in Gatsby is its last: "So we beat on, boats against the cu
rrent, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
19
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Joan Cochrane Linda Abeja a year ago
That is Fitzgerald's epitaph.
3
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Amy a year ago
Our envy of others devours us most of all.
? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
19
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DentedSyke Amy 10 months ago
Great and under-appreciated writer. Great sentence from a master of sentences.
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Emma a year ago
The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of
Heaven.
Paradise Lost, Book I
John Milton
17
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Andrea Meredith a year ago
Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were
like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet t
alcum. -- Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
17
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DentedSyke Andrea Meredith
10 months ago
This one line from Harper Lee slays me every time I read it.
Reply Share
Barbara McCarthy a year ago
You know, one of the tragedies of real life is that there is no background music
.
-- E. Annie Proulx, "The Shipping News"
17
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Emily Ogden a year ago
There are women who are unmarried by accident, and others who are unmarried by o
ption; but Olive Chancellor was unmarried by every implication of her being.
Henry James, The Bostonians
17
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DentedSyke Emily Ogden
10 months ago
I love Henry James. I had read this line before, but it now comes home full forc
e to me. Thanks for sharing!
Reply Share
Philip Mccabe

a year ago

I like carbonation in my friends: out-on-a-limb idealism or a traveler s


itch, a shivery past or libertarian streak, with frostbite scars,
perhaps, or a veteran s fatalistic flinch when a car backfires: Edward Hoagland.
17
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Amanda Hayes a year ago
and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry
there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are fi
lling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
? John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Two sentences, I know, and if I could I'd include the entire paragraph. I first
read this more than two decades ago, and it's stuck with me ever since. It's mor
e true today than ever.
16
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Susan Yeager Bromley Amanda Hayes a year ago
The first author that came to mind for me that should be included on this list w
as Steinbeck. "Grapes of Wrath" is incredible. I found myself reading passages o
f it over and over in appreciation for how beautifully they were crafted. Thank
you for sharing. If I had my copy with me write now, I'd be sharing more than on
e sentence from it, too-- most likely something that Ma Joad said. I love that w
oman. :)
5
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dniles Susan Yeager Bromley
a year ago
I have read it again and again just because the writing is so beautiful. I just
loaned it to someone recently.
Reply Share
Robert Mickle
a year ago
At night we were stained by dew and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable sil
ences of stars.
T.E. Lawrence from The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
16
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Paul d'Orlans Robert Mickle
a year ago
TEL didn't write a lot, but he did write one of my favorites in 'The Mint', his
essay 'The Road': "So long as roads were tarred and blue and straight; not hedge
d; and empty and dry, so long I was rich"
Any motorcyclist will understand...
3
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Dana Robert Mickle
WoW
Reply Share

a year ago

Celeste Chaney a year ago


"...at some point on each walk there comes a moment when I look up and notice, w
ith a kind of first-time astonishment, the amazing complex delicacy of the woods
, the casual ease with which elemental things come together to form a compositio
n that is - whatever the season, wherever I put my besotted gaze - perfect." - B
ill Bryson, "A Walk in the Woods"
16
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Blair Hume Durant a year ago
"From a little after two oclock until almost sundown of the long still
hot weary dead September afternoon they sat in what Miss Coldfield still
called the office because her father had called it that - a dim hot

airless room with the blinds all closed and fastened for forty-three
summers because when she was a girl someone had believed that light and
moving air carried heat and that dark was always cooler, and which (as
the sun shone fuller and fuller on that side of the house) became
latticed with yellow slashes full of dust motes which Quentin thought of
as being flecks of the dead old dried paint itself blown inward from
the scaling blinds as wind might have blown them." William Faulkner "Absalom, Ab
salom"
16
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Leslie P Blair Hume Durant
a year ago
I remember saying to a teacher that it was ok to use run-on sentences because Fa
ulkner did. She replied that when I became Faulkner, I was welcome to use run-on
sentences as much as I'd like to. He was amazing.
5
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DentedSyke Blair Hume Durant
10 months ago
Faulkner can capture a mood, a time, a culture, and all the sins of the past in
his sentences.
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Nicki Lerczak
a year ago
"There are those days which seem a taking in of breath, which, held, suspends th
e whole earth in its waiting." Ray Bradbury Farewell Summer
16
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Susan Pigott a year ago
I have stolen more quotes and thoughts and purely elegant little starbursts of w
riting from the Book of Revelation than anything else in the English language and it is not because I am a biblical scholar, or because of any religious faith
,but because I love the power of the language and the purity of the madness that
governs it and makes it music. Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine
16
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ty111 a year ago
Moby Dick: The Spirit Spout
It was while gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlight n
ight, when all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver; and, by their soft, s
uffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude; on such
a silent night a silvery jet was seen far in advance of the white bubbles at the
bow.
24
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EvelynU ty111 a year ago
Oh my, so many sibilants, the sound so in accord with the thought. Makes me wish
I had read the whole damn thing.
3
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Vastus Erantus EvelynU
a year ago
You can read the whole damn thing right now. Take the time. It is still the grea
test novel.
3
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Josie
a year ago
" It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, an
d I didn't know what I was doing in New York. " (The first sentence of "The Bell
Jar," by Sylvia Plath.
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Daniel Carpenter
a year ago
""Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages:
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmers for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke." The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey
Chaucer
13
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Cicero31
Great. I
ew poets
Reply

Daniel Carpenter a year ago


was just about to post this. No praise of spring is better than this. F
in English--if any--had Chaucer's ear.
Share

Sandi Dremel a year ago


I just want to thank the editors who initiated this conversation and everyone wh
o has commented. I weed through so much dribble online, these days, it is wonder
ful to be a part of such a thought provoking conversation. I have been reminded
of so many great reads, the busy days since, had buried.
12
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Steve Glines a year ago
Apparently they conceived of the deity as a peeping tom who's omnipotence allowe
d him to see through walls but was foiled by mere clothing. - Bertrand Russell i
n Why I am not a Christian
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Jon a year ago
This one's from a poem, my favorite, heartbreaking....
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
-- from "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold
12
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Monika Wiedmann

a year ago

But for her,


life was as cold as an attic with a window looking to the north, and
ennui, like a spider, was silently spinning its shadowy web in every
cranny of her heart.
Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary
12
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DentedSyke Monika Wiedmann
10 months ago
What a fantastic line. I sense Lady Dedlock in this line as well.
Reply Share
Donna Kirk-Swaffar
a year ago
Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1. While I love this entire "To be or not t
o be" soliloquy, this would be the line that wins if I have to choose just one:
"Who would fardels bear
To grunt and sweat under a weary life
But that the dread of something after death
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?"
12
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Phil Katz a year ago
"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station
will be held by anybody else, these pages must show." -- Dickens, David Copperf
ield
12
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Judy
The
, in
John
11

a year ago
true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be
some sense, kidding.
Updike
Reply Share

jsicherman a year ago


"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears
a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured
or far away." -Thoreau
11
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Sandi Dremel jsicherman a year ago
This was one of the underlying principles I applied to parenting. I hope it serv
ed my children well.
Reply Share
jsicherman Sandi Dremel
a year ago
Actually, it is my 12 year old daughter, Amelia, who posted that quote! Not bein
g old enough to participate herself, I signed on and she contributed.
3
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Mike a year ago
The names of Alaska are so beautiful they run like fountains all day in the mind
.
John McPhee from Coming Into the Country
11
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Dana Mike

a year ago

Whoosh!
3
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Heather
a year ago
Not that I agree with Macbeth's sentiments, but we can't go on without the Bard:
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing. (5.5.17-28)
10
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Tim Chambers Heather
a year ago
A most excellent passage, but it does not distill a thought into a single senten
ce.
2
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Heather Tim Chambers
It's two sentences.
Reply Share

a year ago

Brazo Onofre Heather


a year ago
It's four sentences.......all four worthy of being the best in all literature.
2
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Tim Chambers Heather
a year ago
I see a period, and exclamation mark, and two more periods. Four sentences.
Reply Share
Amanda Lynn
a year ago
"Though she be but little, she is fierce." Shakespeare A Midsummer's Night Dream
10
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Barbara a year ago
If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a
fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, m
ore immortal,--that is your success.
Henry David Thoreau
From Walden
10

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di is in los angeles a year ago


"All our mules died but one, and she died later on." Rudyard Kipling, The Man Wh

o Would Be King
10
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David Null a year ago
Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those o
f the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded t
his earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
HG Wells, "The War of the Worlds", Chapter 1: "The Eve of the War"
10
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Andrew Barber a year ago
"I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam I am." - Dr. Seuss
9
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George Golub a year ago
"...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the
rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how
he
kissed me under the Moorish Wall and I thought well as well him as another
and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I
yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and
drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart
was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. "
Molly Bloom at the end of Ulysses
9
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Rachel Beck
a year ago
"Calvin's hand reached out; he did not clasp her hand in his; he moved his finge
rs so that they were barely touching hers; but joy flowed through them, back and
forth between them, around them and about them and inside them."
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
9
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Lucy Rachel Beck
Love.
Reply Share

a year ago

Nechama Tamler a year ago


The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails whereon my soul is grooved
to run. from Moby Dick by Herman Melville
9
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Alan Levenstein
a year ago
If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like
hearing the grass grow or the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that r
oar which is the other side of silence.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quo...
9
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Yvonne M a year ago
"She tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up." Raymond Chandler, The Big
Sleep.
8
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Ed Brodzinsky
a year ago
"If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the 'Fuc

k you' signs in the world" -- Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger's "The Catcher


in the Rye"
8
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JR Fabin a year ago
I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.
~ Stephen King
8
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Kate T a year ago
I am haunted by waters.
- Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
8
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Lucy a year ago
She sent her face to Joe's funeral, and herself went rollicking with the springt
ime across the world.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
8
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Christian Giudice
a year ago
"They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to
run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all,
for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and posture." Tim O
'Brien from The Things They Carried
8
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Robert Foght a year ago
He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate fe
lt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar
, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it.
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
8
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Joe Price
a year ago
If there are frontiers between the civilized and the barbaric, between the
meaningful and the unmeaning, they are not lines on a map nor are they regions
of the earth. -- Ursula K. LeGuin
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Tim Chambers a year ago
"Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority and the
tradition of the elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I could not test at
the time by experiment or private judgment, I am firmly of the opinion that I wa
s born on the 29th of May, 1874."
G.K. Chesterton, Autobiography
8
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Megan Erkoboni a year ago
But meanwhile time flies, it flies beyond recovery while, captive to each fact,
we are carried away by love. Virgil's Georgics.
8
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Monica Renneke a year ago
Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that m
ean that it is not real?
? J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
7
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Kathryn Slagle
a year ago
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
? Anne Frank
7
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KVigil a year ago
"And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever, when the master of the ho
use, having his daughter leaning fondly on him, sat down with her and her mother
at his own fireside; and when he thought that such another creature, quite as g
raceful and as full of promise, might have called him father, and been a springtime in the haggard winter of his life, his sight grew very dim indeed." Dickens
, A Christmas Carol, Stave II
7
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Tom Crisp
a year ago
Every leaf and bud and blade seemed to contribute its exhalation to the pervadin
g sweetness in which the pungency of pine-sap prevailed over the spice of thyme
and the subtle perfume of fern, and all were merged in a moist earth-smell that
was like the breath of some huge sun-warmed animal.
Edith Wharton, SUMMER
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Lucille Jodoin a year ago
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, i
t was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of in
credulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the
spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we h
ad nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going dire
ct the other way in short, the period was so far like the present period, that s
ome of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for
evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
7
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Shannon
a year ago
Japhy and I were kind of outlandish-looking on the campus in our old clothes in
fact Japhy was considered an eccentric around the campus, which is the usual thi
ng for campuses and college people to think whenever a real man appears on the s
cene--colleges being nothing but grooming schools for the middle-class non-ident
ity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in
rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets in each living room wi
th everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same t
ime while the Japhies of the world go prowling in the wilderness to hear the voi
ce crying in the wilderness, to find the ecstasy of the stars, to find the dark
mysterious secret of the origin of faceless wonderless crapulous civilization.
-Jack Kerouac, "Dharma Bums"
7
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DentedSyke Shannon
10 months ago
One of the greatest pieces of writing of modern times.
Reply Share
Paul Fixx
a year ago
Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse Five": "So it goes."
7
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Ann Christi
a year ago
My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to

the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes a
nd I came back with a dog. Kate DiCamillo, "Because of Winn Dixie"
7
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Erik Frederiksen a year ago
The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the
leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred
by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and
afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.
Hemingway A Farewell to Arms
7
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Dana a year ago
"Three things in life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to b
e kind; and the third is to be kind."--Henry James
7
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Cicero31 Dana a year ago
What book does this come from?
Reply Share
Betsy
a year ago
"Hive-spangled, gut roaring with gas and cramp, he survived childhood; at the st
ate university, hand clapped over his chin, he camouflaged torment with smiles a
nd silence." ~ The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
7
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MEEfO
a year ago
In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they humme
d of mystery.
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
6
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Kim a year ago
Harper Lee and Atticus Finch cannot be left off this list! There were a few othe
r quotes that I also wanted to include, but they were two sentences.
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his
point of view... Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." spoken by Atticus Finch, written by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
"[Courage is] knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and yo
u see it through no matter what." Harper Lee
6
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Mike Lanier Kim a year ago
Pass the damn ham, please. (Scout from TKAM)
1
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Andrew Parks a year ago
"Even the weather isn't as we remember it clearly once being; never lately does
there come a summer day such as we remember, never clouds as white as that, neve
r grass as odorous or shade as deep and full of promise as we remember they can
be, as once upon a time they were."
--John Crowley -- "Little, Big"
6
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Greeney
a year ago
Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.
Kurt Vonnegut
6
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Jon a year ago
I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is m
ost certainly Christ-haunted. -- Flannery O'Connor
6
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Brazo Onofre Jon
a year ago
Ya gotta love Flannery O'Connor!
Reply Share
Brent Holloway a year ago
"She was a girl who for a ringing phone dropped exactly nothing."
J.D. Salinger/A Perfect Day For Bananafish
6
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DentedSyke Brent Holloway
10 months ago
My second-favorite short story of all time. Fantastic writing, much better than
"Catcher In The Rye," in my opinion.
1
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Darlu
a year ago
I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all t
he humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mira
ge, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclide
an mind of man, that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, so
mething so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for t
he comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanit
y, for all the blood that they've shed; that it will make it not only possible t
o forgive but to justify all that has happened. Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers
Karamazov)
6
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Melissa Hiebert
a year ago
"No one is born just once. If you're lucky, you'll emerge again in
someone's arms; or unlucky, wake when the long tail of terror brushes
the inside of your skull." -- Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces
6
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Maria
a year ago
Oh gosh, I'm horrible - I really can't pick just one! So here are a few of my fa
vorites (and I know number 1 technically isn't a sentence, but it's conveying a
single idea so... I'm counting it!):
I.
[Speaker 1: "No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch
of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all
those X's..."
Speaker 2: "And?"
Speaker 1: "No damn cat, and no damn cradle."]
- Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
II.
Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'

Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;


Man got to tell himself he understand.
- Also Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
III.
"When Zarathustra was alone, however, he said to his heart: 'Could it be possibl
e! This old saint in the forest hath not yet heard of it, that God is dead!'"
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
6
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Annabelle Marcovici
a year ago
"An iceberg is water striving to be land; a mountain, especially a Himalaya, esp
ecially Everest, is land's attempt to metamorphose into sky; it is grounded flig
ht, the earth mutated - nearly - into air, and become, in the true sense, exalte
d." -Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
6
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David Weber
a year ago
Oh, gosh, Mike Robbins (below) beat me to it ... I love that sentence -- althoug
h I thought it was by James Thurber.
If we are allowed to nominate our own sentences: I wrote a sentence once, in an
email message to a couple of friends, imagining a conversation between two medie
val members of clergy (long story), and I have always liked it. Here it is: The
bishop hates a "pitchy" alleluia.
6
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Dana David Weber
a year ago
I like your sentence. Lightly Joyean. But maybe lose the quotation marks.
2
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Mangat Ram Sethi a year ago
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Tolstoy from Anna Karenina
6
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Rich Wilson Mangat Ram Sethi
"Don't steal rolls"

a year ago

same book
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Matt Chew
a year ago
You know, many a man realizes late in life that if when he was a boy he had know
n what he knows now, instead of being what he is he might be what he won't; but
how few boys stop to think that if they knew what they don't know instead of bei
ng what they will be, they wouldn't be? - Stephen Leacock, 'How to Make a Millio
n Dollars'
6
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99bonk a year ago
I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, th
at never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where t
hat immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.
Milton, Areopagitica
6
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Mike Victor
a year ago
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, is in a fina

l sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and a
re not clothed.
- Dwight David Eisenhower, 1953
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Leigh
a year ago
PLEASE NOTE how many of these sentences are LONG sentences that employ PROPER PU
NCTUATION. I have worked in marketing all of my life and advertising, marketing
and the internet (which now seem to constitute about 80% of what we read) are ki
lling off sentences longer than 14 words. Students actually think it's wrong to
write them. When I went to grad school (in my late 30s) to study history, my pro
f. gave me back my first paper and said "it's all right to write a long sentence
, you know..."
5
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m00ndog Leigh a year ago
I believe it depends on the audience and purpose of the writing. I learned that
going beyond 17 words significantly reduces the number of people who will compre
hend the sentence. I personally produce technical writing for a broad audience i
ncluding non-native readers. Hence, I avoid long sentences.
1
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Cicero31 m00ndog
a year ago
Probably more important than the mere number of words is the complexity of the s
entence structure. Good writers can control the structure and lead the reader or
listener through it painlessly.
1
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m00ndog Cicero31
a year ago
True. The 14 or 17 word limit is just a guideline. If exceeded, you're probably
going to lose people unless you're very careful. Short sentences make it easy to
get on with the writing and spend less time "crafting."
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Vastus Erantus m00ndog
a year ago
Impatience? Or inability?
Reply Share
Cicero31 Leigh
a year ago
Part of the blame rests with Strunk and White. The cult of brevity has led us to
the practice of incomprehensibility at worst and monotony at best. I agree with
you entirely. I have to admit, however, that when sentences are long and comple
x, the writer has to be literate.
Reply Share
Ben a year ago
Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's
two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every dr
op of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, a
s was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of
the Lord are true and righteous altogether.' Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural
5
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Nancy Letts
a year ago
There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
? Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
5
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Nick Lyle
a year ago
"In a huddle of picnicking women and their children, stretched out limp and damp

in the sweltering sun or fussing over paper carriers or building castles that w
ere at once destroyed by the tattered march of other picnickers to different pie
ces of the beach, among the ice cream cries, the angrily happy shouts of boys pl
aying ball, and the screams of girls as the sea rose to their waists, the young
man sat alone with the shadows of his failure at his side." Dylan Thomas "One Wa
rm Saturday".
5
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Emma a year ago
"Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts." - To Kill a M
ockingbird
5
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DentedSyke Emma 10 months ago
Which, I think, is good advice in general.
Reply Share
John Wilkes
a year ago
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of i
ncredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was th
e spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we
had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going dir
ect the other way-in short, the period was so like the present period, that some
of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, i
n the superlative degree of comparison only."
Charles Dickens. Opening sentence of A Tale of Two Cities.
5
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Tim Chambers John Wilkes
a year ago
Double-win. One of the best sentences and one of the best opening sentences!
Reply Share
Steve Glines a year ago
Twenty concubines and a library of forty thousand volumes attested to the variet
y of his inclinations; judging by the products of the former, as well as the lat
ter, both were meant for use rather than ostentation. - Gibbon's Decline and fal
l of the Roman Empire
5
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Callie Clark a year ago
"Every second he breathed, the smell of the grass, the cool air on his face, was
so precious: To think that people had years and years, time to waste, so much t
ime it dragged, and he was clinging to each second."--Harry Potter and the Death
y Hallows by J. K. Rowling
So refreshing as a teacher to see some solid literature for young people!
5
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Rachel a year ago
"Anything dead coming back to life hurts." Toni Morrison, Beloved.
and
"How do you get to be the sort of victor who claims to be the vanquished also?"
Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy.
5
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Jennifer Baugh a year ago
She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister

-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from
root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight.--The
ir Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston
5
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Brian L. a year ago
"One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zap
hod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get
people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn't be bothered
to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously
stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn't understand what was going on, a
nd really being genuinely stupid."
Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
5
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cdc a year ago
"I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was
the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I
didn't know who I was - I was far away from home, haunted and tired with
travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam
outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps
upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high
ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange
seconds." from On the Road, Jack Kerouac
5
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Suzanne
a year ago
To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry
break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the
taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do
our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a fo
reshadowing -- the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one's hai
r is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to
us again. Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
5
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Sarah Tittle a year ago
I said you don't know what worry is. I don't know what it is. I don't know wheth
er I am worrying or not. Whether I can or not. I don't know whether I can cry or
not. I don't know whether I have tried to or not. I feel like a wet seed wild i
n the hot blind earth.
--Light in August, William Faulkner (I know, more than one sentence but really,
is there anything more magnificent than this?)
5
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Daniel Carpenter a year ago
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." J.R.R. Tolkien
5
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John A Arkansawyer a year ago
Is this one sentence or two? I could make a case for either and be happy calling
them one unit, too.:
"I'm writing this book because we're all going to die-In the loneliness of my li
fe, my father dead, my brother dead, my mother faraway, my sister and my wife fa
r away, nothing here but my own tragic hands that once were guarded by a world,
a sweet attention, that now are left to guide and disappear their own way into t
he common dark of all our death, sleeping in me raw bed, alone and stupid: with

just this one pride and consolation: my heart broke in the general despair and o
pened up inwards to the Lord, I made a supplication in this dream." --Jack Kerou
ac, Visions of Cody,
5
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Neelam Tikkha
a year ago
Best lines which are so relevant in India " Justice delayed is justice denied "
It is a power to criminals
5
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Diana Ranson a year ago
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
5
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Emily Witt a year ago
"Truly, though our element is time,
we are not suited to the long perspectives
open at each instant of our lives.
They link us to our losses: worse,
they show us what we have as it once was,
blindingly undiminished, just as though
by acting differently,
we could have kept it so.
-Philip Larkin
4
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Laurent Low
a year ago
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that th
ey are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among thes
e are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Gov
ernments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent o
f the governed,...
The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson
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Cicero31 a year ago
"There are many shades in the danger of adventures and gales, and it is only now
and then that there appears on the face of facts a sinister violence of intenti
on- that indefinable something which forces it upon the mind and the heart of a
man, that this complication of accidents or these elemental furies are coming at
him with a purpose of malice, with a strength beyond control, with an unbridled
cruelty that means to tear out of him his hope and his fear, the pain of his fa
tigue and his longing for rest: which means to smash, to destroy, to annihilate
all he has seen, known, loved, enjoyed, or hated; all that is priceless and nece
ssary- the sunshine, the memories, the future; which means to sweep the whole pr
ecious world utterly away from his sight by the simple and appalling act of taki
ng his life." Josph Conrad, Lord Jim, Chapter II.
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SoCal5 a year ago
And, Amy Bloom, from By-And-By, though it's two sentences: "I miss every piece o
f my dead. Every piece is stacked high like cordwood within me, and my heart, bo

th sides, and all four parts, is their reliquary."


4
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Katie
a year ago
"Call me Ishmael."
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick
4
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Dawn D'Angelillo a year ago
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, driz
zly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before cof
fin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially
whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral
principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodi
cally knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as
soon as I can. - Herman Melville, Moby Dick
4
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Left Empty a year ago
"If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you, and you'll never learn."
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
4
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Jared Treadway a year ago
"He could not eat it, and it could not eat him, so he did not care." ~2001: A Sp
ace Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke
4
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Amy Fiorella Henschel
a year ago
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolu
te reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House,
not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had st
ood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued
upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; sil
ence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked
there, walked alone. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
4
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Rebecca
a year ago
He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions t
o her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.
F. Scott Fitzgerald from The Great Gatsby
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Robert Leto
a year ago
They ll
walk out to the bleacher and sit in shirtsleeves in the perfect evening, or
they ll find they have reserved seats somewhere in the grandstand or along one
of the baselines- wherever they sat when they were children and cheered their he
roes,
in whatever park it was. --W.P. Kinsella
4
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Jerseygram Robert Leto
Yes!
Reply Share

a year ago

Hank Foodkowski
a year ago
"When I finally caught up with Abraham Traherne, he was drinking beer with an al
coholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Son

oma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon." -- Ja
mes Crumley
4
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Dale Wall
a year ago
A monotonous, silent city, deriving an earthy flavour throughout from its Cathed
ral crypt, and so abounding in vestiges of monastic graves, that the Cloisterham
children grow small salad in the dust of abbots and abbesses, and make dirt-pie
s of nuns and friars; while every ploughman in its outlying fields renders to on
ce puissant Lord Treasurers, Archbishops, Bishops, and such-like, the attention
which the Ogre in the story-book desired to render to his unbidden visitor, and
grinds their bones to make his bread.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens
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JMA2Y
a year ago
To Kill a Mockingbird-"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm b
adly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem s fears of never being able to p
lay football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury...When
enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discus
sed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it al
l, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He s
aid it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of mak
ing Boo Radley come out. I said if he wanted to take a broad view of the thing,
it really began with Andrew Jackson. If General Jackson hadn t run the Creeks up t
he creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would w
e be if he hadn t? We were far too old to settle an argument with a fist-fight, so
we consulted Atticus. Our father said we were both right."
4
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Tweed Typewriter a year ago
The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you. - Jame
s Joyce, "The Dead"
4
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Kelly Huebner Blough
a year ago
We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we'
ve entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we've hidden in - like this wretched c
ave. I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not bounda
ries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. The English Patient by Michae
l Ondaatje
4
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WaltChura
a year ago
"Isn't it pretty to think so?" Hemingway, "Farewell to Arms"
4
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Charlie WaltChura
*Sun Also Rises
4
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a year ago

alsviews WaltChura
a year ago
Should be number one, definitely.
Reply Share
Greta Wendelin a year ago
"She had the profound optimism of successful old maids; solitude either sours or
teaches self-dependence." -the French Lieutenant's Woman
4
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S B
a year ago
"The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that
things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to
the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs." Geo
rge Eliot. Middlemarch, of course.
4
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Linda Andersen a year ago
For the first few days all went well.
J.G. Ballard, Manhole 69
4
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BillStewart2012
a year ago
"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began
to take hold."
3
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Joy Saint James
a year ago
"I can't remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelv
e, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six." Dylan
Thomas. Poetry yes, but a prose poem at that; and the best prose is always poet
ry!
3
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johngriffin0928
a year ago
"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." -- Zora Neale Hurston, "Th
eir Eyes Were Watching God."
3
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ColeToons
a year ago
"Marley was dead: to begin with."
It's a prosaic intro to an integral bit of popular Western lit and entertainment
. But the oddness of its construction -- what's with the colon? -- and its appro
priateness to the story following has always stayed with me.
3
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him_that_be ColeToons
a year ago
The following paragraph is some of my favorite writing, but several sentences to
o long for this conversation.
Reply Share
Uli Widmaier a year ago
"In me thou seest the twilight of such day as after sunset fadeth in the west, w
hich by and by black night doth take away, death's second self, that seals up al
l in rest."
Shakespeare, Sonnet 73
3
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Lynette Russell
a year ago
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, driz
zly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before cof
fin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially
whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral
principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodi
cally knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as
soon as I can. -- Herman Melville, Moby Dick
3
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Ray Russ
a year ago
"I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the
evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a
Dumpster." - The Glass Castle by
Jeannette Walls
3
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Phoebe a year ago
This is called a polishing machine and that is called a stretcher and you are ca
lled honey and I am called Daddy and this is called living and the other is call
ed dying and this is called madness and this is called mourning and this is call
ed hell, pure hell, and you have to have strong ties to be able to stick it out,
this is called trying-to-go-on-as-though-nothing-has-happened and this is calle
d paying-the-full-price-but-in-God's-name-for-what, this is called wanting-to-be
-dead-and-wanting-to-find-her-and-to-kill-her-and-to-save-her-from-whatever-sheis-going-through-wherever-on-earth-she-may-be-at-this-moment, this unbridled out
pouring is called blotting-out-everything and it does not work, I am half insane
, the shattering force of that bomb is too great..."
-Philip Roth
3
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DentedSyke Phoebe 10 months ago
Yeah, Phillip Roth is really that good, a thousand times each book.
Reply Share
Matt Greenstone
a year ago
"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting
the table for breakfast.
- E.B. White, Charlotte's Web
3
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Guest
a year ago
"Now and then, shed by a blossoming tree, a petal would come down, down, down, a
nd with the odd feeling of seeing something neither worshiper nor casual spectat
or ought to see, one would manage to glimpse its reflection in the water which s
wiftly more swiftly than the petal fell
rose to meet it; and, for the fraction o
f a second, one feared that the trick would not work, that the blessed oil would
not catch fire, that the reflection might miss and the petal float away alone,
but every time the delicate union did take place, with the magic precision of a
poet s word meeting halfway his, or a reader s, recollection."
-- Vladimir Nabokov: Speak, Memory
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Ben a year ago
"Victory at all costs- Victory in spite of all terror- Victory, however long and
hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival" Winston Churchi
ll, To the House of Commons of the British Parliament, May 13, 1940
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MrMLK
a year ago
Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish, know not w
hat is the real happiness of life, just as those who have been tossed on the sto
rmy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the blessings of
fair weather. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
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hacksawdrill
a year ago
Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to v
ote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely
to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority
on earth is the individual). - ayn rand
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Tim Chambers hacksawdrill
a year ago
To any innocent reader not familiar with Ayn Rand now thinking to themselves, "T
hat's pretty good. I should see what else she has to say." DON'T DO IT! That way
lies madness. She is an inconsequential twentieth century quasi-philosophical h
ack. There are so many more who matter. Major in the majors and minor in the min
ors. She screwed up my youth. It took me years to recover. Her bizarre attitude
toward sex alone is something I dearly wish I could un-remember. (I know, I know
, now you want to check her out just because I'm telling you not to, but I tried
to warn you.)
4
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Brazo Onofre Tim Chambers
a year ago
Oooooh WOW, thanks for the warning Timmy, I'm sure none of us would want our you
ths to be screwed up the way Rand did to yours, some of us are much too fragile
and old to devote years of recovery from such a traumatic event. I'm certain tha
t your deeply intelligent assessment of Rand, although very different from milli
ons of her devoted fans, is the final word on her works, so I'll happily spread
the warning you've so generously proffered, we can't allow incredibly over sensi
tive dweebs like you to ever be offended by any literary ventures. So, until we
ban all of Rand's works, perhaps you should lock yourself back up in your cozy c
loset until the coast is clear.
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Tim Chambers Brazo Onofre
a year ago
My criticism was of Rand, and your ad hominem attacks and sarcasm are an unsurpr
ising defense of an inconsequential twentieth century quasi-philosophical hack.
3
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Garrett Fisher a year ago
On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at
the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting died.
--Adlai Stevenson
3
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Danielle Noe a year ago
The fields were fruitful, and starving men moved on the roads. John Steinbeck, T
he Grapes of Wrath.
3
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mchasewalker a year ago
"It is one of the great lessons of our study [of religions] that for the vulgar,
ill- or uninstructed mind, myths tend to become history." Joseph Campbell
3
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Not Bloomberg
a year ago
From a play and movie:
"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you m
ust be," - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, you must be oh so sma
rt, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant."
- "Harvey" by Mary Chase

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Jill Scarberry a year ago


All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. J.R.R. To
lkien
3
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johnny trevisani a year ago
We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs bega
n to take hold.
Hunter S. Thompson: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
3
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Emma a year ago
I used to think when I died--I could see you--so I died as fast as I could. -Emi
ly Dickinson
3
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Allan Reeder a year ago
My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was
three, and, save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her sub
sists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which, if you can still stand
my style (I am writing under observation), the sun of my infancy had set: surel
y, you all know those redolent remnants of day suspended, with the midges, about
some hedge in bloom or suddenly entered and traversed by the rambler, at the bo
ttom of a hill, in the summer dusk; a furry warmth, golden midges. - Vladimir Nab
okov, from Lolita
3
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Larry Corbett
a year ago
He was permitted, without restriction, to speak of himself as immoral,
agnostic and socialistic, so long as it was universally known that he
remained pure, Presbyterian, and Republican. - Arrowsmith - Sinclair Lewis
3
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quark
a year ago
The Moving Finger writes and having* writ,
Moves on; nor all your piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all your tears blot out a word of it.
From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
3
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Naomi Jeffery Petersen
a year ago
With this Mrs. Malfrey had to be content, and after
condoling with Elizabeth on having lost an earl only to get a lieutenant in
exchange and with Charlotte for being left a spinster while a chit from the
schoolroom made the match of the season, she departed, leaving a sense of
relief behind her and a strong odour of violet scent.
Georgette Heyer, The Conven
ient Marriage. 1934.
3
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Guest
a year ago
"Gooey goo for chewy chewing!
That's what that Goo-Goose is doing.
Do you choose to chew goo, too, sir?
If, sir, you, sir, choose to chew, sir,
with the Goo-Goose, chew, sir.

Do, sir." - T. Geisel


3
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Jeremiah Blanch
a year ago
"The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a s
ea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers pass
ing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted as
h that closed behind them silently as eyes."
The Road, Cormac McCarthy ...
bleak, beautiful, arresting
3
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Barbara McCarthy Jeremiah Blanch
a year ago
ohhh, good one! so many good sentences came out of that book
Reply Share
Barbara McCarthy Barbara McCarthy
a year ago
Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.
1
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CollisionWorks a year ago
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.
Beckett, from MURPHY
3
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Terry
a year ago
"For it is the dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, neve
r failing. But when the dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bo
ndage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret." Alan Paton, "Cry, the Bel
oved Country"
3
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Phaethor a year ago
"There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful s
tirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath; like those fabled undulation
s of the Ephesian sod over the buried Evangelist St. John." ~ Herman Melville, "
Moby Dick" aka "The Whale"
3
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pat a year ago
So glad to see Hemingway included...pretty much any sentence Hemingway ever wrot
e, perfect.
3
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Ana Coghlan
a year ago
Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along
the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens littl
e boy named baby tuckoo
? James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
3
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Dkfiner
a year ago
A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic
or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and si
lk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, co
ats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe h
at and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained weddin
g veil and some in headgear or cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the ho
rns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwi
se naked and one in the armor of a Spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pau

ldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or sabre done in another country by
men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the ha
ir of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses' ears and
tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse's whole he
ad was painted crimson red and all the horsemen's faces gaudy and grotesque with
daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a ba
rbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible
yet than the brimstone land of Christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and
clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing whe
re the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools. ---- Cormac McCarthy "Blood Mer
idian"
3
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Bea Varney a year ago
"A red cow put her head over the wall; her gaze, in parentheses of horns, follow
ed the children; their mother's hand glided through the cow's warm sigh." -- 'So
ng of Spring' ~ M.E. Willow
3
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Amanda a year ago
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
3
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Greg Voigt a year ago
Instead, he stood in cold and righteous silence in the summer's dusk, watching h
er hurry along the shore, the sound of her difficult progress lost to the breaki
ng of small waves, until she was a blurred, receding point against the immense s
traight road of shingle gleaming in the pallid light. ~ Ian McEwan, On Chesil Be
ach
3
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Arin a year ago
He thought the world's heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world's pai
n and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this he
adlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the visio
n of a single flower. Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses.
3
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hankintexas
a year ago
He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced s
traight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed f
rom-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.
--Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
3
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dniles hankintexas
a year ago
Yay, the first Conrad. One of the best writers in English and it wasn't even his
first language.
2
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John Pilge a year ago
My favorite sentence will always be, "You're hired."
3
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rrrrob a year ago
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evi
l; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me.
23rd Psalm

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Jack J.
a year ago
"So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pie
r watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that
rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road
going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by
now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, an
d tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear?"
Jack Kerouac- On the Road
The next sentence is just as good.
3
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marketfog
a year ago
Perhaps I am a simpleton, my Mensa membership says I am not, but I have never be
en able to read "Gatsby" because of the pretentious words and structure. My eyes
spun the several times I tried. Boil it down to the movie, and you find "Gatsby
" is nothing but a short story about a loser. The movie didn't make me want to a
ttempt reading "Gatsby" again.
3
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Tim Chambers marketfog
a year ago
A+ for mentioning your Mensa membership!
2
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Choragos marketfog
a year ago
Ah but the sentences, like this one about the unformed but yearning Jimmy Gatz:
A universe of ineffable gaudiest spun itself out in his brain while the clock ti
cked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes up
on the floor
1
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Thea Fisher
a year ago
not exactly one sentence: "Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of thr
ee steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth."
2
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Aam Aadmi Potty
a year ago
I must break you - Ivan Drago
2
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To Engineer is Human
a year ago
"Jack, you have debauched my sloth". Patrick O'Brian in "H.M.S. Surprise"
2
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Stanley Dorst
a year ago
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
2
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James Austin a year ago
'We were somewhere near Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began t

o take hold." Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson


2
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Mike N.
a year ago
Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the wo
rld, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.
-- Joseph Conrad, "Heart of Darkness"
2
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Brazo Onofre a year ago
"I have of late, (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, forgone all custo
m of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition; that this go
odly frame the earth, seems to me a sterrill promontory; this most excellent can
opy the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this Majesticall roofe,
fretted with golden fire: why, it appeares no other thing to me, than a foul an
d pestilent congregation of vapours."
Jeeze, did all you fancy, erudite snobs forget about Shakespeare?
2
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fatherflot a year ago
"There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and m
ittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that co
uld be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwo
rk tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrink
ing tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustache
d and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all;
and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer wh
innying with us; and pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with q
uotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and boo
ks that told me everything about the wasp, except why." --Dylan Thomas, A Child'
s Christmas in Wales
2
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Ann Murphy fatherflot
a year ago
Another offering from Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
1
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Howard Bernstein a year ago
I don't know if a song lyric fits, but one of my favorite lines is Bob Dylan's "
existence led by confusion boats, mutiny from stern to bow. I was so much older
then. I'm younger than that now."
2
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Clark
a year ago
Okay - it happens to be 2 sentences, but the second one is the heart of the matt
er. (Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut for introducing me to the passage).
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I mad
e up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said the
n, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there
is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am no
t free." - Eugene Debs
2
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Steve
a year ago
"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, dri

zzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before co


ffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especiall
y whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong mora
l principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and method
ically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as
soon as I can."
Moby Dick, Chapter 1.
2
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John Haverland a year ago
...So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vega
s and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-wat
er mark- that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back. Hunter S. Thomp
son, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
2
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dave Luke
a year ago
Men's memories are uncertain and the past that was differs little from the past
that was not.
CORMAC MCCARTHY, Blood Meridian
2
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Stuart McKever a year ago
"A Handbag?"
- Oscar Wilde
2
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Paul a year ago
My favorite sentence is also a Truman Capote sentence, from "Breakfast at Tiffan
y's": "Once a visiting relative took me to "21," and there, at a superior table,
surrounded by four men, none of them Mr. Arbuck, yet all of them interchangeabl
e with him, was Miss Golightly, idly, publicly combing her hair; and her express
ion, an unrealized yawn, put, by example, a dampener, on the excitement I felt o
ver dining at so swanky a place."
2
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Steve Rowland
a year ago
Why do we have Faulkner's typewriter, but no Faulkner? This one isn't too shabby
:
"There was a wistaria vine blooming for the second time that summer on a wooden
trellis before one window, into which sparrows came now and then in random gusts
, making a dry vivid dusty sound before going away: and opposite Quentin, Miss C
oldfield in the eternal black which she had worn for forty-three years now, whet
her for sister, father, or nothusband none knew, sitting so bolt upright in the
straight hard chair that was so tall for her that her legs hung straight and rig
id as if she had iron shinbones and ankles, clear of the floor with that air of
impotent and static rage like children's feet, and talking in that grim haggard
amazed voice until at last listening would renege and hearing-sense self-confoun
d and the long-dead object of her impotent yet indomitable frustration would app
ear, as though by outraged recapitulation evoked, quiet inattentive and harmless
, out of the binding and dreamy and victorious dust."
2
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Erin Cooley
a year ago
"Centuries telescoped into one evanescent moment." The God of Small Things, Arun
dhati Roy
2
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SoCal5
a year ago
But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, writ
ten in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh,
and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we alw
ays feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming h
abitual fondness, not having meant to keep us waiting long. Housekeeping, by Mar
ilynne Robinson
2
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badpoetry
a year ago
"Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through t
he ash, each the other's world entire.
Cormac McCarthy, The Road
2
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Christine
a year ago
"He thought of his years away from home, the years of wandering in many lands an
d cities. He remembered how many times he had thought of home with such an inten
sity of passion that he could close his eyes and see the scheme of every street,
and every house upon every street, and the faces of the people, as well as reca
ll the countless things that they had said and the densely-woven fabric of all t
heir histories . . . But why had he always felt so strongly the magnetic pull of
home, why had he thought so much about it and remembered it with such blazing a
ccuracy, if it did not matter, and if this little town, and the immortal hills a
round it, was not the only home he had on earth? He did not know. All he knew wa
s that the years flow by like water, and that one day men come home again."
Thomas Wolf, You Can't Go Home Again
2
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Dana Christine
a year ago
One of the loveliest writers who ever disappeared.
2
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Eric Atkinson
a year ago
Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot l
ive within. I use the word "love" here not merely in the personal sense but as a
state of being, or a state of grace - not in the infantile American sense of be
ing made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and grow
th. James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
2
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Jen a year ago
The world is a wonderfully weird place, consensual reality is significantly flawe
d, no institution can be trusted, certainty is a mirage, security a delusion, an
d the tyranny of the dull mind forever threatens -- but our lives are not as lim
ited as we think they are, all things are possible, laughter is holier than piet
y, freedom is sweeter than fame, and in the end it's love and love alone that re
ally matters. Tom Robbins
2
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Hiptobesquare
a year ago
Two sentences:
I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I neede
d a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat, and a gun."--Raymond Chan
dler, Farewell, My Lovely.
2
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najmeh

a year ago

"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with
the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never
landing, until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocke
d to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things
they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget.
The dream is the truth. They then act and do things accordingly." Zora Neale Hur
ston
2
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WHAT'S THIS?
ALSO ON THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR
Our Crowd-Sourced Cento: Stanza One - David Lehman
19 comments a month ago
MD - I hope American Scholar or Best American Poetry publishes a compilation so
meday featuring all the winning
Like Dancing Down the Aisle - David Lehman
3 comments 18 hours ago
Christine Rhein - Thank you, David (and I agree with your suggestion--in fact,
I had originally drafted the last two lines
Virginia Woolf s The Years - Andrea Barrett
1 comment 2 months ago
Nancy Freund - This short piece is now my first encounter with Andrea Barrett,
having just been recommended 'Ship
Wind and Ice - David Lehman
4 comments 2 months ago
john s harris - I tried, and tried the more, to get to the second line, but, li
ke an energized bunny, the first