Celebrating the Long Sentence: Winnie-the-Pooh and the Slow Language Movement

Celebrating the Long Sentence: Winnie-the-Pooh and the Slow Language Movement

“…in an age of sort of Twitter and Facebook, and all the rest of it, where language is just witty and snappy, and quick, and meant to amuse rather than kind of be any profound in any way, and certainly the brevity of it sort of precludes that, you got to make time for poetry and other things as well.”

This morning Melissa Wiley twittered a link to this blog post on The Slow Language Movement. A great idea, I thought. This paragraph in particular got my wheels spinning:

A slow language movement, I thought. I like it. What comes to mind is the long sentence. How about a celebration of the long sentence. A moment each day; no, an hour early in the morning before the day-to-day intrudes, disrupts, robs. Or at night, when the sky sweeps itself of color and hurtles you into black. Two hours. I put my blinker on, switched over to the right lane of the freeway. Reread Joseph Conrad, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce…

… or Winnie-the-Pooh…

Yes, A. A. Milne is right up there with Joyce and Wolfe as a master of the long sentence. Here’s one of my favorite long sentences of all time, from Chapter IX “In Which Piglet Is Entirely Surrounded by Water”:

In after-years he liked to think that he had been in Very Great Danger during the Terrible Flood, but the only danger he had really been in was in the last half-hour of his imprisonment, when Owl, who had just flown up, sat on a branch of his tree to comfort him, and told him a very long story about an aunt who had once laid a seagull’s egg by mistake, and the story went on and on, rather like this sentence, until Piglet who was listening out of his window without much hope, went to sleep quietly and naturally, slipping slowly out of the window towards the water until he was only hanging on by his toes, at which moment luckily, a sudden loud squawk from Owl, which was really part of the story, being what his aunt said, woke the Piglet up and just gave him time to jerk himself back into safety and say, “How interesting, and did she?” when—well, you can imagine his joy when at last he saw the good ship, The Brain of Pooh (Captain, C. Robin; Ist Mate, P. Bear) coming over the sea to rescue him.

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