Friday, January 28, 2011

Stanley Fish's top five sentences

Stanley Fish is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and a professor of law at Florida International University. He has previously taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

One of the world's foremost authorities on John Milton, in 2006 Fish applied the "Page 69 Test" to his book, How Milton Works.

His new book is How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One.

One of Fish's top five sentences, as told to Slate:
Ford Madox Ford (from The Good Soldier, 1915): "And I shall go on talking in a low voice while the sea sounds in the distance and overhead the great black flood of wind polishes the bright stars."

In this sentence, the personal voice of the narrator is absorbed by the sea sounds (a deliberate pun) that began as background and end by taking over the scene of writing.
Read about Fish's other favorite sentences.

The Good Soldier
also appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best spas in literature, ten of the best failed couplings in literature, and ten great novels with terrible original titles, and on the Guardian's list of ten of the best unconsummated passions in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: The Good Soldier.

--Marshal Zeringue