A Sentence About a Sentence I Love: An Anthology, of Sorts

A few months ago, in April, to be exact, I started a series of posts entitled “A Sentence About a Sentence I Love” with a sentence about one of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s magnificent sentences. This concentration, or, rather, this obsession with the sentence may have come from my, at the time, recent readings of William Gass’s essays wherein he concentrates much of his attention on the sentence as a primary building block in poetry and prose. Essays by Gass like “The Soul Inside the Sentence,” “The Sentence Seeks Its Form,” “The Architecture of the Sentence,” take as their focus the centrality of the sentence toward the construction of thought, and particularly of thoughts within the parameters of fiction. In “Philosophy and the Form of Fiction,” Gass claims that sentences are “the most elementary instances of what the author has constructed….a moving unity of fact and feeling.” Moreover, sentences

must be sounded, too; it has a rhythm, speed, a tone, a flow, a pattern, shape, length, pitch, conceptual direction. The sentence confers reality upon certain relations, but it also controls our estimation, apprehension, and response to them. Every sentence, in short, takes metaphysical dictation, and it is the sum of these dictations, involving the whole range of the work in which the sentences appear, which accounts for its philosophical quality, and the form of life in the thing that has been made (Fiction and the Figures of Life, 14).

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Guest Post, by Ted Pelton: A Sentence About a Sentence I Love

“I had a drunk on like seven Swedes.” – Raymond Chandler

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(In/Un)troducing Raymond Federman

If you have not encountered the work of the recently departed Raymond Federman (1928-2009) through his countless novels, poems, short pieces, surfictions, critifictions, and literary provocations, you haven’t really read, or unread, as the case may be.

First step: find a copy of Double of Nothing: a real fictitious discourse (1971)—Federman’s debut. It’s a furious meta-fictional / typographical adventure. It’s cerebral, but with heart. Spend two minutes browsing through the text on Google books; the noodle novel will blow your mind.

From there, pick up any of Federman’s numerous texts, an entire corpus un/writing the autobiography of a well-known story: Federman, as a child, pushed into a closet by his mother as collaborationist French police take his parents and two sisters for eventual transport to Auschwitz. The young boy works in a southern French farm, in hiding, during the rest of the war and eventually makes his way to America, to the army, to a Ph.D, to a friendly relationship with his great mentor Samuel Beckett, and, over a series of books—never from a mainstream press—through the gulf of memory and un/telleable stories of loss and of laughter, always laughter.

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