Tag Archives: descriptive writing

Tacet Times Two

One of the most profound musical lessons I ever learned was that rests and notes are equally important.  Rests are silent music, and yet silence is rarely silent.

Take, for instance this beautifully written portion of The Stranger.  The situation here, near the very end of Book One, is deplorable, but I give Camus props for some carefully chosen words.

We stared at each other without blinking, and everything came to a stop there between the sea, the sand, and the sun, and the double silence of the flute and the water.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 3, 2013 in The Stranger


Tags: , , , ,

Glug Glug

malmsey – n.  a fortified sweet Madiera wine

Classical Usage:  This is the type of passage that has become the only portion of Madame Bovary that I’m enjoying.  I think Flaubert writes beautifully descriptive analogies.  Okay, you’re right, sometimes what he’s describing is far from beautiful, maybe striking is a better choice of adjectives.  You be the judge, this is from Part Two, Chapter XII:  Hers was an infatuation to the point of idiocy; the intensity of her admiration for him was matched by the intensity of her own voluptuous feelings; she was in a blissful torpor, a drunkenness in which her very soul lay drowned and shriveled, like the duke of Clarence in his butt of malmsey.

Classically Mad Usage:  Malmsey, please.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Madame Bovary


Tags: , , , , ,

Bang Up Description

Flauberts’ language is so descriptive that several times I’ve wanted to stop reading, grab the container of crayon bits and pieces, and sketch a little picture of a paragraph.  Sometimes, full of unfamiliar comparisons, his written representations baffle me.

In case you felt the same about the portrayal of Charles the schoolboy’s hair from the very first page of the very first chapter, I thought I’d do my part to help you out.  This is how our detail orientated author styles his young character:

The newcomer, who was hanging back in the corner so that the door half hid him from view, was a country lad of about fifteen, taller than any of us.  He had his hair cut in bangs like a cantor in a village church, and he had a gentle, timid look.

This is so exciting for me because  I.  Am.  A.  Cantor.  That’s right.  The Lutheran Church historically has called its church musicians cantors (although I prefer the spelling with a ‘k’)) and so I can show you what Charles’ boyhood bangs looked like:

Though he probably wasn’t plagued with gray hairs.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Madame Bovary


Tags: , , ,