Monday, June 22, 2009

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

Catherine Morland arrives at the Abbey, and is somewhat disappointed by its relative plainness.

This sentence deserves examination:
"A sudden scud of rain, driving full in her face, made it impossible for her to observe anything further, and fixed all her thoughts on the welfare of her new straw bonnet; and she was actually under the abbey walls, was springing, with Henry's assistance, from the carriage, was beneath the shelter of the old porch, and had even passed on to the hall, where her friend and the general were waiting to welcome her, without feeling one awful foreboding of future misery to herself, or one moment's suspicion of any past scenes of horror being acted within the solemn edifice."

1) The sentence is extremely long, but it is totally clear and grammatically correct. Long sentences like this (as long as there are not too many) always enhance a piece of writing.
2) The repetition of 'was ... was ... was' is extremely effective, adding rhythm and balance to the sentence.

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