The Slow-Cooked Sentence

One beautiful sentence

Rachael Conlin Levy
Swallow Print by Sarah Parrott, Little Paper Planes

I’m reading “Madame Bovary” and vacillate between identifying with Emma because her life isn’t her own, and despising her for being so passive-aggressive. Regardless, Madame Bovary is a wreck, and had she lived today, she’d be popping handfuls of anti-depressants to deal with her life.

The book is filled with images that are beautiful and concise. Unlike many books that wander into paragraphs of description for no sake other than the author is in love with words, Gustave Flaubert is relentless in his demand that every sentence carry forward the story of Emma Bovary’s revolt against the ordinariness of her life. Here’s one superb example:

“… What deplorable mania had driven (Emma) to ruin her life with constant self-sacrifice? She recalled all her yearnings for luxury, all the privations of her soul, the degradations of marriage and housekeeping, her dreams fallen into the mud like wounded swallows, everything she had desired, everything she had denied herself, everything she might have had! And why? Why?”

Challenged by the blog Write Now is Good to find a sentence that moves me, I settle on the words above, on the simile, “dreams fallen into the mud like wounded swallows” because the picture, the words, struggle inside my head: birds fighting, wings caked in dirt, too heavy to lift. One such swallow carries my dream to write.

One response to “One beautiful sentence”

  1. […] Madame Bovary finally finished, and quickly followed by this biography on Gustave Flaubert├é┬áthat contains passages like this […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe: rss | email | twitter