#4 it was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences”

“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 incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” A grammatical nightmare. Repetitive, wordy, smug. I imagine Dickens reading this aloud for the sheer pleasure of his own voice. But! It’s still a brilliant opening sentence. There’s something right about the dialectics of it all. Opposites are bound together in a single, messy run-on sentence, just as opposites are bound together in a single, bloody history of the French revolution. It’s not easy to redeem 10 run-on sentences, but if anyone’s got the talent for it, Dickens does. Well done, old boy. 
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6 Responses to #4 it was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences”

  1. Fredr says:

    I think one of the differences between a great writer and a poor writer is that the great writer knows when and how to break the rules.

    Orwell has five or six rules for good writing and the last one that one should break the previous rules in order to avoid writing something ugly.

  2. anokatony says:

    Those lines are from “A Tale of Two Cities”, right? Somehow these lines work.

  3. Tony says:

    A wonderful beginning – and, of course, a wonderful finsh too.

    It’s a shame that the book as a whole doesn’t measure up…

  4. […] hitting refresh at Interpolations for Number One on his list of favorite opening lines. Tolstoy, Dickens, Bradbury, and Faulkner took positions five through two. My favorite would be: “Maman died […]

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