Friday, November 21, 2014

Celebrate, November 21, 2014 - a Bouquet





It's Friday again, and time for the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, a brilliant idea conceived by Viklit .  Every Friday we post about the things that have happened that are worth celebrating, however small.  It's fun, free, and makes  you think - and there are some wonderful bloggers who participate. 

Today I'm celebrating a bouquet I received completely without warning:

I had stopped my local mailman to ask about a package that had arrived in bad shape. (In fact, it was in such bad shape I could not tell that it had been sent through another service).

 The mailman was new to the route, and I had not seen or spoken to him before, since I'm usually working when he comes by.


After discussing the package, ending with my laughing at myself and apologizing for not knowing who sent it, he looked at me and said, "Are you Diana Wilder?"

I said I was.

He said, "One of my coworkers just read one of your books.  It takes place in the South during the Civil War. I don't remember the title, but she really liked it!"

I was caught off-guard and stammered something suitable.

She had read The Safeguard and liked it enough to comment on it.  That is why I write: to entertain people and tell my stories.  And sometimes you get a bouquet.



What are you celebrating?










Thursday, November 6, 2014

Celebrations, November 7, 2014





Each Friday brings VikLit's Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, a brilliant idea conceived by Viklit (address below).  We post every Friday, and we tell of the things we are celebrating that week. 

One-Eyed Orlando

With me, it has been a nice week. 

(1)  I have a cat, Orlando, who lost his eye to a mishap that required surgery a little over a week ago.  He is healing well, and the 'Cone of Annoyance' comes off tomorrow.   It could have been so much worse.  I had a one-eyed cat who lived to a week shy of his seventeenth birthday.  He coped beautifully with being one-eyed, and Orlando seems to be doing well, also, though he truly detests the collar.  That will be coming off Saturday. 

(2)  I'll be making pop-overs for breakfast, along with bacon (a reason in itself to celebrate!) and nice, hot tea.  Little things, but enjoyable. 

(here is my recipe:

375 degree oven
muffin pans (deep is nice) greased and sitting in the oven while you mix the batter:

Mix:
1C flour
1 c milk
3 lightly beaten eggs
1/2 tsp salt

Don't over-beat the batter.  A light hand is best.

Take the hot pan from the oven and quickly fill the wells 2/3 full with batter.  Half full is fine.  Don't over-fill.  Bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes.  Resist the urge to open the oven door to see if the things are popping.  They tend to be bashful in that regard.

Remove from pans (sometimes they will stick), butter and eat.  Some of my friends prefer to just melt and drink butter.  They have no sense of adventure.   You can serve the pop-overs with jam; I prefer them plain.

Anyone from the UK will probably recognize the basic recipe for Yorkshire Pudding, which I also love, but I don't spend a lot of time roasting beef.  Hm...  Maybe I will do that this weekend...

(3)

I'll be going to a gem show this weekend. All sorts of gemstones, precious or semi-precious, lots of things to see, and if you are a people-watcher, it is especially enjoyable.  If you view the video, do turn off the sound.  And please note: just looking is free and fun.


What are you celebrating?










Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Iwsg November 5 - Just do it #IWSG

THE INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP
The first Wednesday of the month is the time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. This is the once-a-month blog hop started by Alex J. Cavanaugh .

IWSG = Insecure Writers' Support Group (click for the link).  We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy and  practical suggestions. 

Visit the site - and visit the co-hosts:
LG Keltner, Donna Hole, Lisa Buie-Collard and SL Hennessy


Art work by Ben Southan
Over the past months, I have been wrestling with all sorts of writing-related questions.  For me, at least, they never come one at a time, small and easily dealt with. 

Instead, they cluster around the door of my thoughts like wolves and go rushing in if I let them.  Fighting them off is tiring and usually an exercise in futility.


There are questions regarding my writing in general:
  • Is it good? (Pretty important, actually… )
  • Is it the best I can do? (See above)
  • I’m tired: how can I write anything good when I am exhausted? That requires a little extra thought.


Then come the questions regarding works in particular:
  • Will it sell? (Speaking strictly from the ‘art’ standpoint, this should not be so important a question, but we do tend to equate quality of writing with saleability, whether or not we recall our earlier sneers at various best-selling offerings that appear to have been cranked out on a conveyor belt by someone who, we say, has prostituted his or her talent to profitability)

Questions regarding the flow of my writing and the value of my current WIP:

  • Does this WIP follow well after its predecessor? Does it pick up the threads and weave them convincingly? 
  •  Is it bad? The predecessor was really good, so why does this one stink? (I’m getting ahead of myself, but if I were not – at the time I squall this to the heavens – really tired and off my game, I would admit that a story with three years of effort going into producing it is naturally better, at the moment, than one that is just underway. And I would also acknowledge that, this being a series, I am building on the structure that I hopefully perfected in Volume I and will bring to a thundering, triumphant conclusion in Volume III.)
  • …and why, oh why, is Volume III, nearly completely visualized, so much more seductive than Volume II, which I have had to insert between I and III?


Hydra by John Singer Sargent
How do you cope?
As with all questions posted on this wonderful hop, these are nothing new. 

Like the Hydra in Greek Mythology, though, they  do tend to come back every time you think you have killed it.

It's a condition peculiar to writers.
(I remember the story of a young actress telling the great Sarah Bernhardt that she never, ever had stage fright.  La Bernhardt said, 'Well, ma petite, when you become a real actress you will!')


What is the answer?

Well…
November is NaNoWriMo time. We are supposed to write, write, WRITE!!! for thirty days straight and come up with 50,000 words. I am not participating this year because I have committed to get Volume II (of The Orphan’s Tale) whacked into a shape where I will not die of embarrassment when I send it to my editors at month’s end and then, heaven help them, to anyone who volunteers to be a beta reader. Publication is tentatively slated for Spring 2015. But the concentration on writing itself swung my attention toward the answer to this and just about any angst-related, insecurity-generated question that a writer can face:

Just write. 
  • Write what comes out the ends of my fingers.
  • Close my eyes and write. 
  • Wake up and see what I have written and laugh hysterically and resolve NOT to do this at 11pm on a weeknight. 
  • Realize that I am not carving things into a block of marble. I am putting out words, and words can be tweaked (the part I personally love the most).

But I'll write. That is what a writer does. 
And just producing the raw material, which I can squint at, groan over and ultimately fix, somehow, for me at least, smooths away the worries. 
When I an clicking into productivity and actually doing what it is that I live to do, I am invincible, at least in my own mind.

Then I'll go over what I have written. Use my wordsmithing abilities and work on it. I'll just do it. Mark things up, rewrite, groan.

I’ll be too busy to be insecure.  And I'll be writing, which is, after all, what I live to do.









Thursday, October 30, 2014

Celebrating... A Wonderful New Book: the Publication of Edith, Fair as a Swan


James Hockey, Author
Books, to me, are a source of joy.  One of the most wonderful emotions that a reader can experience is the feeling that comes when they have in their hands (or on their e-reader) a book by someone whose writing they love, whose tale-telling abilities they respect, and whose prior work sits on their shelves, sources of periodic reading and enjoyment.  And if the new book happens to be the latest in a series, so much the better.

With those pleasures in mind, I am celebrating, today, the release of James M. Hockey's newest book, Edith, Fair as a Swan.  A masterpiece by a master storyteller, the third in a series of stories that trace the origin of England in a most remarkable way.

But first, Edith:

                           England is Conquered

The King lies dead and mutilated.  Edith, the Queen, and her daughter, Gytha, have fled for their lives just ahead of their pursuers.  They can expect no mercy if they are captured.  By command of the victor, the Queen will be tortured and then burned at the stake and her daughter strangled in the public square.  It is 1066, and the cruel enemy hot on their heels is William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, whom history now knows as 'The Conqueror.' Edith's path lies from ravaged England to  Kiev, from defeat and despair through peril to hope and healing.

The story itself is gripping, and it is a true story in most of its particulars (for writers of historical fiction do know that sometimes they have to fill in the gaps or, as Hockey says, 'Connect the dots')  We know that Edith was here; we know William sought her life...and we know some other important things about her story. But how did they come about?  Characters cross the pages, scoundrels, villains, heroes, knights, peasants - all play their parts in Edith's story.  And then there is Edith, herself, a queen - and a woman of courage and resolve.

In this sample, Edith and her daughter, accompanied by the narrator, are stopped by men with something less than honor in their hearts.  It is a deadly plight, until Edith steps forward:   
The hill stretched away to the east ahead of us. As we neared the top of the long, steady climb we stopped to catch our breath and rest our legs, for the walk uphill had tired us. It was a bad place to linger and we were foolish, but Asgar, the wisest of us was also the oldest and still weakened by his newly healed wounds. He was thus the most drained by the long climb and needed to rest.
I say foolish because as we topped the hill the road became flat, but also curved around a copse of trees standing out from the thick woods to our left. We were unsighted and could not see down the road ahead. If we could have seen what was around the curve we would have hidden off the road. But we could not see and thus did not hide, and what then happened happened and from that our journey was entirely changed.
As we moved on at a snail’s pace, still gathering our breath, so around the curve came a trio of Norman horsemen. From their arms and the shield of one I took them to be a miles and two serjeants-at-arms. They reined in when they saw us and stood watching us as we limped and shuffled along the road. Then at a word from the leader they spurred towards us.
They halted two horse lengths away. I grasped my quarterstaff, ready to fight, but a growl from Asgar told me to hold.
The horsemen leaned forward on their mounts’ necks to get a better look at us. There was a speedy passing of speech between them in their outlandish tongue. I did not need to understand their meaning. It was all too plain as they gazed steadily at Edith and Gytha.
Edith also understood only too well. To my horror she walked up to the leader and smiled at him, laying her hand on his thigh.
He exchanged a look with his serjeants and laughed then swinging his leg over his horse’s back dropped to the ground, walked around the beast’s head and stood grinning at Edith. The two serjeants, their harness and saddles creaking, also dismounted and stood holding the horses whilst their master sauntered towards the woman and her child. He stopped by Gytha and placed his hand under her chin, lifting her face and smiling down at her. As he put his arm around her shoulder and drew her to him he turned, spoke to the two serjeants and waved towards Asgar and me. They laughed and drew their swords.
Asgar was shuffling forward towards the serjeants, whining, ‘Please sirs, they are my son’s wife and daughter, have pity I beg you,’ edging closer to them all the while.
Edith was the entire mistress of the occasion. She placed her hand on the shoulder of the miles, drawing his attention away from the child. Sinking to her knees in front of him, causing his serjeants to pause, watching and smirking, she lifted the hem of his mail coat with her left hand. He thrust his hips at her and leered a look of pride and scorn.
Everything that followed happened so quickly I barely remember it. As Edith bent forward to perform her shameful task so her mantle caught beneath her knees. With an apologetic smile she reached behind her to free it and tugged at the mantle. Then, faster than I had ever seen a hand move, her right hand shot up under the mail coat with the speed and spite of a striking viper. The miles gave a shriek of pain as the bodkin dagger she had concealed in the waist of her mantle bit deep into his groin. His legs folded and he fell, to lie screaming, legs twitching and trembling, blood pooling under him. She leapt to her feet the dagger poised to strike at the serjeants.

The three novels are tied together by their narrator, a Gleeman, or Storyteller, named Bowdyn, who lives in the 1600's during a time of upheaval.  He came to the village battered, wounded, a victim of ruffians. Bowdyn is descended from an unbroken line of Gleemen, akin to the Seannachies or the Bards, those who kept the old, true stories, and told them in truth and with skill.
 
The Axe the Shield and the Triton
 
It is a time of hardship, upheaval and poverty.  On a fine, misty morning, a young man sees a small, horse-drawn cart making its slow way along the road, apparently without guidance.  What did it contain?  Treasure?  Possibly.  The young man hurries to the cart, looks inside and finds – not gold, but a man. 
 
This man, battered, robbed, near death, is a treasure, indeed.  The village learns that he is Bowdyn, a gleeman, a storyteller that recounts history.  One evening, the town gathers.  He is healed, it is time for him to tell a story.  Bowdyn begins to speak…

 `This story,' he said, `is old. It begins in a country east across the sea, nigh on five hundred years after the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. To Africa it goes and back, and crossing the sea, ends up close by here. It begins with Creoda's grim tale'
And then something startling happened. The Gleeman sank back in his chair and by some cunning art of positioning, as he did so his face disappeared into the shadow. From the dark a voice spoke and I, for my part, felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck, for it was not the voice of Bowdyn that we heard, but that of a young boy, younger than I, for his voice had not yet deepened into manhood.
In the voice of the young man, Creoda, Bowdyn tells the tale of a people, adrift in the waning days of the Roman Empire, seeking safety from the Huns, gathering to make their way to a life together.  And in the course of the story, you return to the Gleeman.
 
I was not sure what to expect with this story. I was so pleased with what I got.  The sheer skill with which Hockey draws you into a story from the Dark Ages of Europe is impressive.  The story itself is excellent.
 
And here is a link to My Review

In the second book, Bowdyn again tells the tale of Creoda's people:

                       The Axe, the Shield, and The Halig Rood

Bowdyn the Gleeman holds court before the townsfolk. He speaks again of Creoda and the arrival of his people in Britain. In Creoda's calm voice, he moves through legend and history and tells of the forging of a strong people that steps into familiar legend.

Because the ford was narrow, Gewis shortened our line and put more of the doughties on the right flank. The century of the Second held our left. The Belgics were so slow in forming that he had the time to do this. And so we waited while our enemy formed up.

...They halted perhaps a man length away. We had brought no drum but showed our discipline with the unity of the beat of our spears and our billhooks against our shields, the measured rat-tat-tat we had used at Moridunum. More than that, our women did something that even now to think of it makes my blood run cold and goose bumps rise on my flesh. It was a trick they said they had learned from Sefu, using their voices and their tongues, which gave out a high-pitched warbling note from one hundred throats. It was a note like that of some great wyrm, of such godlike triumph that I could see the Belgics flinching and their eyes widening with fear. At that point, following Lothar, we took two quick paces forward and our shields clashed as our spears flashed. For a while the lines locked, but we had the advantage: the billhooks arced overhead and their pointed blades sliced into faces, arms and shoulders, drawing attention and guard away from our flashing spears.

Here is a link to The Axe, the Shield and The Halig Rood
And a link to my review

I have spent a longer time with this post than I usually do.  It is a mark of my enjoyment of these stories.  They have substance, wisdom, adventure and truth to them.  They are, truly, historical fiction that keeps its ties to history.

I am pasting links to James Hockey's website.  There is more there to read and enjoy, including information about the Master Mariner, himself.  Not a dull paragraph there:

http://wyrdsisterspublishing.co.uk/





Visualizing a Scene: It's Good if You Can Do It...

 
'Artist Sketching' by Constable 
I tend to be visually oriented.  Something, whether a graphic or an item, can serve to express and summarize my thoughts about a scene, a character, a setting.  Sometimes things fall beautifully into place.  And sometimes they...just...don't.  But ah, they do come close at times.  I have a scene in my Work In Progress in which one of the characters, Larouche, a 7 year old street urchin, encounters 'Monseigneur', his name for a high-ranking police officer that he met in the first book of the series, initially hated, and grew to like and admire in the course of the story.  The growth of their liking is a theme throughout the series, and this scene, the second time they have actually come face to face, is pivotal.  The child, who has found a position at a small bistro as a hired boy, is sweeping the yard: 

**   **   **
         Larouche watched as Jean-Claude led the big gray horse from the stable.  Nice-looking fellow, he thought. Tall, strong: maybe some Percheron in him? His dark coat dappled down to white with a white mane and tail. Elegant and strong, Larouche thought, and remembered the horses ridden by the helmeted officers during reviews.  This one could easily be one of those mounts.
The horse had been gazing toward the door of the taproom.  He raised his head and nickered as Monseigneur emerged into the early afternoon light.
Larouche drew back against the wall, suddenly breathless.  The row of bushes was beside him, offering shelter and concealment.  He lifted his chin, stayed where he was, and watched.
Monseigneur was in uniform, the sun flashing from the gold-washed bronze buttons of his coat, the dark blue cloth rich in the sunlight.  A brief conversation with Jean-Claude... Nods all around, and Monseigneur came farther into the stable yard.  He was bareheaded, the cocked hat tucked under his left arm. Larouche could see the sunlight glinting on strands of silver in his dark hair. Monseigneur getting old? The thought sat oddly, as though it expressed something Larouche did not want to be true.
The gray was tossing his head. He settled as Monseigneur approached, took out a small snuffbox and shook some candies into his palm.
The gray's ears flicked back and forth. He lowered his lead to lip at the treats.
"He's ready for a good trot," Monseigneur said. Larouche caught the accent again. "I will be obliging him shortly." He took the reins from Jean-Claude, smiled as the man cupped his hands for a leg up, and sprang into the saddle.
Larouche watched Monseigneur slide his feet into the stirrups and gather the reins. The hazel eyes settled on his, caught and held. Larouche thought it was like the time Monseigneur had seized him by the ear. No escape possible. But did he want to escape?
He raised his eyes and smiled as the moment deepened, lengthened. Larouche realized that Monseigneur was as caught as he was, unable to break the connection, unable to speak.
...and then Larouche found that he could draw breath and take a step forward, and he saw that Monseigneur was also leaning toward him, smiling and stretching out his hand—
"Sir!"  The voice, strident and anxious, cut the connection between them.
Monseigneur's hand fell to his thigh as he turned, frowning. "What is it, Trinchard?"
"A mob assembled! They are threatening headquarters!"
"What? When was this?" 
"Twenty minutes ago—a half hour! We have been seeking you all this time!"
Monseigneur's frown deepened. "You have found me," he said. "Lead me there."
Larouche watched Monseigneur gather his reins, and then, almost as though he were drawn, turn back toward Larouche.
Their eyes met, held for a long moment.
Monseigneur's lips parted as though he meant to speak. Larouche waited. But then he turned his horse and was in the street.
Well, that was that. Larouche took up the broom he had laid aside and started sweeping the leaves away.
          The clack of iron on cobblestone made him look up..
The gray was snuffling at the remains of the ivy on the post while Monseigneur watched Larouche with a warm smile. Larouche could see a group of mounted officers in the street beyond.
Monseigneur leaned down, his hands braced on the pommel of his saddle. "I must go," he said. "I will be back. I don't know how soon that will be, but I will be back. I give you my word.."  His smile deepened.  "I want to speak with you.  Will you wait for me?"
Larouche nodded. "I'll be here," he said through an answering smile. "I promise."

Monseigneur bowed, touched his heel to his mount's side, just behind the girth. The horse turned on his haunches and they left at a gallop.


** ** ** 
I had the scene in my mind, I'd been to Paris and scouted the location of the tavern and the lay of the streets.  I knew what the hero looked like, and I knew what the little boy looked like.  In thumbing through images, I came across one that was...almost...perfect.
So close, and yet so far...
Almost.  It has some issues.  For starters:
 
1.  They meet in the courtyard of a small tavern, not the esplanade before the Tuileries palace, which was across from the Louvre. 
 
2.  Larouche, though better dressed than previously, and with a job, is still almost penniless.  He does not own a suit like this boy is wearing.
 
3.  While Malet (the hero) is in uniform in the scene, the police uniform of this era, while dark blue with a red front panel, gold buttons, and a high collar like this one, it also had a cravat.  The uniform coat would have covered his abdomen. The chicken guts ('aiguilettes' - can you tell I'm a military brat?) would not be worn by him.  The bearskin shako would have been worn by Malet in the artillery during his service between 1810 - 1814.  The Police of this era also wore the bearskins.  That stopped after the fall of Napoleon. Breeches and waistcoat would have been a lighter buff for police.
 
4.  The rider appears to be sporting a queue.  Malet never approved of them.  They are a good way to be disabled and killed (just grab that ponytail and hold on) and they were no longer worn in the military after about 1806.
 
5.  The horse is black.  Malet's preferred mount in the book is what they call a 'white dapple' with white mane and tail and a dark coat that dapples down to white.
 
I did bring the horseman and the child 'forward' by making the other rider and the crowd in the background paler (adjusting opacity; you can see it if you look).  I am toying with fiddling with the image, removing the shako, adjusting the uniform...  Just for my own amusement, you understand...
 
Maybe I'll update this post if I succeed.  (For those who are curious, the series is The Orphan's Tale, and I am working on the second installment.)
 
 
 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Celebrating a perfectly horrible day... (Celebrations, October 24, 2014)



Another Friday is here and I am posting in VikLit's Celebrations hop.  We pause every Friday (as possible) and take some time to notice the small celebrations that we somehow overlook.  Friends, food, events in our lives - we all share.   If you want to join, the details are at the bottom of this page.

I am celebrating a perfectly horrible day (I am writing this Thursday).  It has been a bad day.  The workday was notable for being tiring.  I read ignorant comments on a blog post.   Other things happened that are serious and expensive.

And I just know that I will experience once more that truly wonderful moment that happens the morning after a bad day, when you first wake up, open your eyes, and for a breath of time it's as though nothing happened.  And then you remember. 

I am so thrilled.

So, why am I celebrating?  Well, because as bad as the day has been, no one died, no one turned on me, I have my health, and I'm not out on the street.  There are others who would not mind having my terrible day just as long as their situation was similar to mine: my health, a job that pays me, my freedom and my friends.

That is what I am celebrating.  The fact that my bad day, which is, to me, certainly bad enough, is nothing compared to what others have had to put up with every day.

I think perhaps I am blessed.

What are you celebrating?  Why not join us?






Monday, October 20, 2014

Run-On Sentences Illustrated

 
 


Based on what people say to me (some of them whining), we live in the age of the telegram.  Or do I mean the Tweet?  Brevity is crucial, and the spaces between the words are more important than the words.  That, at least, is some of the grumbling I have heard from colleagues who are unhappy about having their scenes pruned.

We all have those scenes we just love to death.  We don't want to deprive our generous readers, who have paid their good money and committed their precious time to purchase and read our efforts.  They do deserve the best!  Why deprive them of our wonderful work?

I'm overstating, of course, though I admit to a twinge when I concluded that a perfectly delicious scene of one of my MC's, who was an impressive but sometimes sobersided fellow, in which he drank an entire bottle of liquor and had a drunken reverie that had had me rolling on the floor, almost literally, was not needed in my story.  Sigh.  It is hard.

...but what if you are so adored an author, you can write monstrous scenes - monstrous in length and complexity, I mean - with no one curling a lip?  Or - let's daydream really outrageously - what if we are so idolized and admired, we can churn out a sentence of nearly a thousand words - and have it printed?  What about that?  Did it ever happen? 
Victor Hugo, hands to face

Yes, it did.  And to salve the sensibilities of all authors who hate to see a single deathless word deleted, I am putting up here the stuff of which daydreams are made, courtesy of Victor Hugo, who is referring to the then (in his book, Les Miserables) King of France.  Hugo was quite the iconoclast, but my mind boggles that even he was able to pass off an eight hundred-plus word sentence with no one screaming bloody murder.  And I think he did it out of a sense of mischief.

Here it is, and lest the flow (flood?  torrent?  spate?) of words exhaust us all, I am interspersing it with depictions of the subject:, who is an historical character that I happen to admire very sincerely:



Louis-Philippe, King of France
“The son of a father to whom history will accord certain attenuating circumstances, but also as worthy of esteem as that father had been of blame; possessing all private virtues and many public virtues; careful of his health, of his fortune, of his person, of his affairs, knowing the value of a minute and not always the value of a year; sober, serene, peaceable, patient; a good man and a good prince; sleeping with his wife, and having in his palace lackeys charged with the duty of showing the conjugal bed to the bourgeois, an ostentation of the regular sleeping-apartment which had become useful after the former illegitimate displays of the elder branch; knowing all the languages of Europe, and, what is more rare, all the languages of all interests, and speaking them; an admirable representative of the “middle class,” but outstripping it, and in every way greater than it; possessing excellent sense, while appreciating the blood from which he had sprung, counting most of all on his intrinsic worth, and, on the question of his race, very particular, declaring himself Orleans and not Bourbon; thoroughly the first Prince of the Blood Royal while he was still only a Serene Highness, but a frank bourgeois from the day he became king; diffuse in public, concise in private; reputed, but not proved to be a miser; at bottom, one of those economists who are readily prodigal at their own fancy or duty; lettered, but not very sensitive to
letters; a gentleman, but not a chevalier; simple, calm, and strong; adored by his family and his household; a fascinating talker, an undeceived statesman, inwardly cold, dominated by immediate interest, always governing at the shortest range, incapable of rancor and of gratitude, making use without mercy of superiority on mediocrity, clever in getting parliamentary majorities to put in the wrong those mysterious unanimities which mutter dully under thrones; unreserved, sometimes imprudent in his lack of reserve, but with marvelous address in that imprudence; fertile in expedients, in countenances, in masks; making France fear Europe and Europe France! Incontestably fond of his country, but preferring his family; assuming more domination than authority and more authority than dignity, a disposition which has this unfortunate property, that as it turns everything to success, it admits of ruse and does not absolutely repudiate baseness, but which has this valuable side, that it preserves politics from violent
shocks, the state from fractures, and society from catastrophes; minute, correct, vigilant, attentive, sagacious, indefatigable; contradicting himself at times and giving himself the lie; bold against Austria at Ancona, obstinate against England in Spain, bombarding Antwerp, and paying off Pritchard; singing the Marseillaise with conviction, inaccessible to despondency, to lassitude, to the taste for the beautiful and the ideal, to daring generosity, to Utopia, to chimeras, to wrath, to vanity, to fear; possessing all the forms of personal intrepidity; a general at Valmy; a soldier at Jemappes; attacked eight times by regicides and always smiling; brave as a grenadier, courageous as a thinker; uneasy only in the face of the chances of a European shaking up, and unfitted for great political adventures; always ready to risk his life, never his work; disguising his will in influence, in order that he might be obeyed as an intelligence rather than as a king; endowed with observation and not with divination; not very attentive to minds, but knowing men, that is to say requiring to see in order to judge; prompt and penetrating good sense, practical wisdom, easy speech, prodigious memory; drawing incessantly on this memory, his only point of resemblance with Caesar, Alexander, and Napoleon; knowing


deeds, facts, details, dates, proper names, ignorant of tendencies, passions, the diverse geniuses of the crowd, the interior aspirations, the hidden and obscure uprisings of souls, in a word, all that can be designated as the invisible currents of
consciences; accepted by the surface, but little in accord with France lower down; extricating himself by dint of tact; governing too much and not enough; his own first minister; excellent at creating out of the pettiness of realities an obstacle to the immensity of ideas; mingling a genuine creative faculty of civilization, of order and organization, an indescribable spirit of proceedings and chicanery, the founder and lawyer of a dynasty; having something of Charlemagne and something of an attorney; in short, a lofty and original figure, a prince who understood how to create authority in spite of the uneasiness of France, and power in spite of the jealousy of Europe, — Louis Philippe will be classed among the eminent men of his century, and would be ranked among the most illustrious governors of history had he loved glory but a little, and if he had had the sentiment of what is great to the same degree as the feeling for what is useful.” 

**   **   **


Inspector Javert Editorializes
I can only imagine the hue and cry (or, more likely, the spate of sneers) that would greet any writer who attempted to match that run-on sentence, deliberate though it must have been. I can't imagine Stephen King attempting it.  I have read some books that seemed unending, but they were (mostly) equipped with paragraphs and reasonable sentences.  What boggles my mind, however, is learning that there is a 1,400 word sentence (not in a European language) that beats this one by nearly double.  It is enough to make even the most toughened character cringe.