Thursday, September 3, 2009

Topic: Why Read Literature? Significant Sentences (1)

One-minute review: Some of those “significant sentences” are in the three groups of sentences that follow. These significant sentences had meaning to me as interesting insights into living and life. Each of these “significant sentences,” while obviously related to preceding and following sentences in the book, could stand on it own merit as an idea. As Boswell said of one of Dr. Johnson’s works, “…almost every sentence…may furnish a subject of long meditation.” For me, “significant sentences” are ideas from literature and nonfiction that provoke reflections about life.

Significant Sentences #1: Do you recognize the following sentences and the book from which they were taken?

I a man of thought—the bookworm of great libraries—a man already in decay, having given my best years to feed the hungry dream of knowledge—what had I to do with youth and beauty like thine own! ………. Misshapen from my birth-hour, how could I delude myself with the idea that intellectual gifts might veil physical deformity in a young girl’s fantasy! ………. She shuddered to believe, yet could not help believing, that it gave her a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other hearts.

A bodily disease, which we look upon as whole and entire within itself, may, after all, be but a symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part. ………. Calm, gentle, passionless as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now, in this unfortunate old man which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy. ………. He longed to speak out, from his own pulpit, at the full height of his voice and tell the people what he was. ………. I, your pastor, whom you so reverence and trust, am utterly a pollution and a lie.

She had climbed her way…to a higher point [while] the old man, on the other hand, had brought himself nearer to her level, or perhaps below it, by the revenge he had stooped for. ………. There is no path to guide us out of this dismal maze. ………. By the first step awry, thou didst plant the germ of evil; but, since that moment, it has all been a dark necessity. ………. She wanted [needed]—what some people want [need] throughout life—a grief that should deeply touch her, and thus humanize and make her capable of sympathy. ………. People brought all their sorrows and perplexities, and besought her counsel, as one who had herself gone through a mighty trouble.

Did you recognize the book from which these significant sentences were taken?

Next: More examples of significant sentences.

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