Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Elizabeth Hardwick sentence

At the PEN America blog, Wayne Koestenbaum considers Elizabeth Hardwick's diction:
How to explain or summarize the Hardwickian tone? It offers tenderness where another critic might offer trenchancy. Its every gesture is gloved. From her introduction to The Susan Sontag Reader:
Essays lie all over the land, stored up like the unused wheat of a decade ago in the silos of old magazines and modest collections. In the midst of this clumsy abundance, there are rare lovers of the form, the great lovers being some few who practice it as the romance this dedication can be.
Strange syntax that second sentence has. I love, in this opening salvo, her articles, their proffering of a misleading specificity. “Essays lie all over the land...” Which land? Another piquant “the”: “like the unused wheat of a decade ago...” Her use of this (article? adjective?) astounds: “this clumsy abundance”; “the romance this dedication can be.”

1 comment:

  1. Actually, what I find strange is that Koestenbaum finds her syntax strange. It makes me wonder what he normally reads.