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Find a quote from a novel, anthlogy, textbook, biography, manuel, etc and explain why...

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parm | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted January 22, 2013 at 3:38 AM via web

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Find a quote from a novel, anthlogy, textbook, biography, manuel, etc and explain why the writing is good, bad, or interesting.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 22, 2013 at 5:16 AM (Answer #1)

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"IT WAS THE BEST of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way..."

The opening from Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most well-known openings of any classic novel, but if Charles had submitted this sentence to his high school English teacher for review, she probably would have delighted in his great use of parallel phrasing, contrast, and diction, but she might have frowned at several other quirks in this particular writing sample.   Seeming to modern readers like an out-of-control run-on, Dickens' sentence feels to us like one humongous comma splice after another.  Seemingly repetitive as well, he also seems to overuse the word 'it', not to mention the linking verb 'was.'  However the author's use of repetition builds the cadence and rhythm of the opening paragraph even noticable to modern readers.

Even renowned authors like Charles Dickens seem to modern readers to sometimes push the limits with their sentence writing.  Dickens' "It was the best of times" sentence is a great example of how to take some elaborate writing choices and turn them into one fabulous, time honored opening sentence to a famous novel.

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Kristen Lentz

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