May 21 2009

What Floods Ideas Are

Published by at 9:35 am under Blog

It’s said by many that the classic prolific French author Victor Hugo’s much adapted novel Les Miserables, following the lives and interactions of several French characters over a twenty year period in the early 19th century, starting in 1815, the year of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, focussing on the struggles of ex convict Jean Valjean and his journey for redemption, as we watch the nature of law and grace unfold amid the backdrop of France’s changing history, the architecture of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, justice, religion and love, first published to a mixed reception in 1862, contains possibly the longest sentences in the French language and even contains the longest sentence in literature as a whole, with a diligently crafted but ultimately barely readable 823 words, and that the verbose author merely constructed the sentence to be difficult and to claim the dubious honour of having constructed said the sentence, but a brief glance across Google’s first page of a search for the term ‘does victor hugo’s les miserables contain the longest sentence in literature’ points out that Timothy Fullerton’s A Compendium of useless Information, published in 1975, may have been erroneous in its claim, citing examples such as our own James Joyce’s notoriously heavy going Ulysses as having a sentence containing 4,391 words, a polish novel Gates of Paradise with a 40,000 word sentence, a czech novel Dancing Sessions for the Advanced of Age with a sentence clocking it 13,955 words, the novel which went on to inspire Jonathan Coe to write his 13,955 word sentence in 2001 for his book The Rotters Club, in 2001, and even the French novel by the famed Marcel Proust, Sodom et Gomorrhe, with a sentence of 847 words, all quickly debunking Fullerton’s claim, which just goes to show that research and proper preparation are essential when compiling such compendiums, and all of these extended sentences must lead a reader to ask if there is any advantage to him or her in this, or whether the longwinded, over-reaching is just a way of stroking the ego of some of these authors, allowing them to prove themselves master of language.

And just think, my sentence is a mere 356 words long.


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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “What Floods Ideas Are”

  1. Lottieon 21 May 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Now try this

    With an…A

  2. Darraghon 21 May 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Ohhh it so nearly works – nearly. There’s semi-colons needed where you have commas and the pacing is just a tad off, but reading it aloud was just that tad disconcerting. Still though, bravo on a magnificent effort. Sir, I salute you.

  3. Bigmentaldiseaseon 21 May 2009 at 11:11 pm

    You certainly succeeded, in that I hadn’t realised what you were doing until you revealed at the end what you had done. Respect.

  4. Bigmentaldiseaseon 21 May 2009 at 11:45 pm

    You’ve got my thumbs up on stumbleupon anyway…

  5. Darrenon 22 May 2009 at 8:08 am

    @Lottie I’ll give it a go with an ‘E’.

    @Darragh Patronising much? Didn’t realising we were critiquing each other’s work. *runs off to run a fine toothed comb over darraghdoyle.blogspot.com…*

    @Big Thanks a mil for the comment. I wonder if that’s the first time I’ve been Stumbled.

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