Friday, September 4, 2009

Topic: Why Read Literature? Significant Sentences (2)

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

Pierre…the young man who did not know how to behave: First he had left a lady before she had finished speaking, and now detained another who was wishing to get away from him. ………. He spoke with such self-confidence that no one could be sure whether his remark was very witty or very stupid. ………. Don’t marry until you can say to yourself that you have done all you are capable of doing, and until you cease to love the woman of your choice and see her plainly, as she really is; or else you will be making a cruel and irreparable mistake. ………. I shall live to learn that in this world one can expect no reward.

He gazed at the snow flakes fluttering above the fire and thought of winter at home…the warm bright house, his soft fur coat, the swiftly-gliding sledge, his healthy body and all the love and affection of his family. ………. Endowed with the rare art of being able to hit on exactly the right moment for making use of people. ………. He described the…affair exactly as men who have taken part in battles always do describe them—that is, as they would like them to have been, as they heard them described by others, and as sounds well, but not in the least as they really had been. ………. From general to private, every man was conscious of his own insignificance, aware that he was but a grain of sand in that ocean of humanity, and yet at the same time had a sense of power as part of that vast whole.

It was obvious that the affair that had begun so lightly could not now be averted in any way but was bound to run its course to the very end, irrespective of the will of men. ………. One dies and either finds out about everything or ceases asking. ………. Just as in a dream everything may be unreal, incoherent, and contradictory except the feeling behind the dream. ………. The herd goes in that direction because the animal in front leads it there and the collective will of all the other cattle is vested in that leader.

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

Next: More examples of significant sentences.

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