Saturday, November 3, 2007

Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche


Swashbuckling prose! After reading a few newspaper and magazine articles I immediately pick up Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche and read one or two chapters. Journalese is so turgid and cheap that I need a good dose of a good prose to balance my day.

Writers today should do the same and learn the elements of vivid prose.

Sabatini’s Scaramouche is a tale of the French Revolution─a veritable page turner. It never lets up until we are done with it; even despite the fact that we already know the outcome of the revolution. The Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel is another great book about the French Revolution; however, the prose doesn't come near the quality of Sabatini's Scaramouche. Although the Baroness Orczy's writing is lucid, it is much inferior because it lacks sentence variety.

Although one of the main strands of the novel is revenge─a psychological theme to be sure─it doesn’t read as a psychological treatise as D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers does.

While writers like Henry James, Don DeLillo, and Jonathan Franzen lull you to sleep with their bromides, Sabatini energizes and electrifies the reader.

What is Sabatini’s secret?

A good deal of it is the sentence openers—which are never ever duplicated─and a timely use of the Absolute. If you wish to be a fair writer, then you owe it to yourself and your readers to master the different forms of the Absolute.

These two techniques will levitate first and then make your prose soar to new heights. Do not understimate the power of grammatical constructs to thrust the narrative drive with jet-engine power. Once we understand the power of sentence openers and the role of absolute phrases, we can then see why the Baroness Orczy's novel is so inferior to Sabatini's--she was unfamiliar with them!

In my estimation Winston Churchill, Edward Gibbon, and Rafael Sabatini are the unsurpassed masters of the English language. What a pleasure it is to read well balanced sentences.
Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
Image via Wikipedia

Lindsey Vonn


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