Lapsed into a Comma



The very long sentence in an effort to beat its predecessors ran on and on and on over fifty five and a half pages after which time it lapsed into a comma, then another, and another till semi-colonized by tedium it slowed right down; sighed; lurched to the left then came to an abrupt full stop.


what’s the longest sentence you’ve read or written?

do you enjoy long sentences? do you occasionally try them just for fun?

how long do you think a sentence should be? what are its natural constraints?

12 thoughts on “Lapsed into a Comma

  1. Very amusing John, and an interesting question: how long my longest sentence might be so far, I don’t really know, it’s not a simple thing to check, but I suspect my brain prefers short sentences, brisk and to the point, preferably, and I certainly wouldn’t ever want my readers to think I was merely waffling on, with no real point to what I was writing; indeed I’m sure most writers wouldn’t like their readers to feel they were being misused by the writer, and all writers should treat their readers like precious things, because surely that is what the reader is to an author – a precious thing indeed!

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  2. I’m with you, Carolyn; I prefer shorter sentences while being fascinated by long ones but have yet not tried my hand at a very long one. Wikipedia has some fascinating examples, including literary ones 🙂

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  3. My favorite from Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews: “He did not therefore want the Entreaties of the poor Wretch to assist her, but lifting up his Crabstick, he immediately levelled a Blow at that Part of the Ravisher’s Head, where, according to the Opinions of the Ancients, the Brains of some Persons are deposited, and which he had undoubtedly let forth, had not Nature, (who, as wise Men have observed, equips all Creatures with what is most expedient for them;) taken a provident Care, (as she always doth with those she intends for Encounters) to make this part of the Head three times as thick as those of ordinary Men, who are designed to exercise Talents which are vulgarly called rational, and for whom, as Brains are necessary, she is obliged to leave some room for them in the Cavity of the Skull: whereas, those Ingredients being entirely useless to Persons of the heroic Calling, she hath an Opportunity of thickening the Bone, so as to make it less subject to any Impression or liable to be cracked or broken; and indeed, in some who are predestined to the Command of Armies and empires, she is supposed sometimes to make that Part perfectly solid.” You might like my blog on it:


  4. Wow! That is a long sentence. I remember discovering ‘Joseph Andrews’ in my first year at uni. It was so much fun. Fielding is such a skillful writer that I did not even notice that very long sentence. Am about to have a look at that post. thanks


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