Friday, February 08, 2019

Splendid Sentences, Part 10: Edward Albee on Carson McCullers

In 1963, playwright Edward Albee wrote a 6 paragraph, 7 sentence, 186-word tribute to Carson McCullers, which includes the embellishments cotillion and legerdemain; the capitalization of four common nouns in a sentence (Child, Sage, Pain, and Joy); and an exclamation point, three dashes, and four colons in imperative sentences all followed by the opener Examine this. Here is one them, in 39 of those words, not the longest sentence in the piece but a fifth of its entirety:
Examine this: She is a lady who, as a girl, trained as a concert pianist, until she discovered that the keyboard of the typewriter, when played with magic, produced a music wilder and more beautiful than any other instrument.  
Now there's a sweet thought, fraught with subjectivity and imprecision for sure, but imaginative and thought-provoking. What is wonderful about Albee's short essay is that its five repetitious, hyperbolic sentences in the middle are sandwiched by two brief ones: the opener Carson McCullers is indeed a curious magician and closer She is kind enough to call me her friend. To understand such heartfelt praise for an extraordinary writer, read The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, McCullers's first novel, completed when she was only 23. If you already have, read it again.

More of Albee's reflections appear in Stretching My Mind.