Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Aeon

#Novels & #Novelists

#Novels & #Novelists Warning

This post is more like homework than a news broadcast…

I’m dealing with complete uncertainty about the status of family members in Florida (…due to hurricane Irma…).


Instead of pulling excerpts from the articles I had planned for today, I’m going to show you the articles and only sketch-out the connections between them

You get to read them and make further deductions—perhaps you’ll leave your thoughts in the Comments


The first two articles are both from Aeon and the titles alone should give clues to why I’ve associated them here:

I Am Not a Story ~ Some Find It Comforting to Think of Life as a Story. Others Find That Absurd. So Are You a Narrative or a Non-Narrative?

Indescribable You ~ Can Novelists or Psychologists Better Capture the Strange Multitude of Realities in Every Human Self?

The third article is from The Bookseller, the publication’s title being a clue for a possibly narrow perspective:

Authors Question the Novel’s Future in Face of Declining Attention Spans

I really would like some Comments, even if all you do is scan the articles, grab a few ideas, and sum-up what looking at all three of them means to You
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Ever Read a Sentence You Thought Was a Masterpiece?

Ever read something at Aeon?

You probably know “aeon” means a long period of time; but, among its other meanings is “the personification of an age”.

I’m fairly sure that’s how this online magazine sees its mission

But, here’s some of what Aeon says about itself:

“Aeon is a digital magazine of ideas and culture…some of the most profound and provocative thinking on the web. We ask the big questions and find the freshest, most original answers, provided by leading thinkers on science, philosophy, society and the arts.”

I made sure I signed up for email alerts from them, to feed my general reading needs and to find articles to report on here

Today’s post is my first report from the Aeon-front.

The article is by Jenny Davidson“…professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, where she specialises in 18th-century literature and culture, intellectual history and the contemporary novel in English.”

The article is called, Simplicity or Style: what Makes a Sentence a Masterpiece?

Here are Jenny’s opening sentences:

“A great sentence makes you want to chew it over slowly in your mouth the first time you read it. A great sentence compels you to rehearse it again in your mind’s ear, and then again later on. A sentence must have a certain distinction of style – the words come in an order that couldn’t have been assembled by any other writer.”

Some of you may have wondered if Jenny intended any of those sentences to be “great”

Perhaps not, since one of the examples she uses is this:

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

You might know that’s from George Orwell’s, 1984.

Jenny says this about it:

“The sentence is initially unassuming, simply descriptive, but in the startling final detail Orwell achieves estrangement, establishing the alternate nature of the novel’s historical reality with economy and force.”

Another sentence example she gives is from William Gibson’s debut novel, Neuromancer:

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

If you want to think deeply about sentences, do go read the full article

Here are Jenny’s final sentences:

“If we think of a library as a city and a book as an individual house in that city, each sentence becomes one tiny component of that house. Some are mostly functional – the load-bearing wall, the grout between the bathroom tiles – while others are the details we remember and take away, perhaps recalling their texture and colour when we assemble our own verbal dwelling-place.”

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