Wednesday, July 5, 2017

some sustaining moral soup

She examined him carefully out of the corner of her eye to estimate the chances of his being brought into the fold of reform by properly selected oratory. That at least was the character of contemplation she intended, but though she was so young that she believed the enjoyment of any sensory impression sheer waste unless it was popped into the mental stockpot and made the basis of some sustaining moral soup, she found herself just looking at him. His black hair lay in streaks and rings on his rain-wet forehead and gave him an abandoned and magical air, like the ghost of a drowned man risen for revelry; his dark gold skin told a traveller's tale of far-off pleasurable weather; and the bare hand that lay on his knee was patterned like a snake's belly with brown marks, doubtless the stains of his occupation; and his face was marked with an expression that it vexed her she could not put a name to, for if at her age she could not read human nature like a book she never would.
That's from Rebecca West's 1922 novel The Judge. So few of today's writers approach that level of excellence in prose. People in publishing want "voice." I want craftsmanship, and daring generosity, and vision.

2 comments:

  1. That perfect wandering sentence from ‘His black hair’ on which ends up with herself in the moral soup. The Judge sits over me on the highest shelf, unread.

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