In “Les Miserables,” Victor Hugo wrote an 800+ word sentence, which some consider the longest written statement in literature and others think an exercise in verbosity. Of course, the book is translated from French, so that might have something to do with flow and readability. Either way, that is a very long sentence — a 12-point Times New Roman font makes it a five-page grammatical unit.
In the book I’m currently reading, I came across a page-long sentence (about two hundred words) that felt perfectly readable and the opposite of verbose, so I thought I’d try writing such a sentence, although perhaps not as long. For fun … let me know what you think.
When we reach Meadow Hill — the sheer massiveness of the mountain in front of us — just before the sun sets and the sky remains slightly illuminated, during this, our fourth and final day of vacation, and realize we are too tired to run up in the same way we did every day around this time to watch the last of the sunset and say goodbye to the river and the mountain and all the beauty before us, we sit on the narrow road, barely one lane wide, niches blasted in the rock, and watch from there with sadness in our hearts.
Only 103 words and probably a bit shaky. I am open to examples and/or critiques. Trust me, I’ve been part of a critique group for years, I can take it.
And as an aside, what do you think: are page-long sentences (when written correctly) an exercise in wasted words or a lost art?
Photo credit: Legros — Victor Hugo, from Wikimedia Commons. In public domain, copyright expired.