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How to Write English Prose


There are few passages in Sir Thomas Browne that I find very agreeable; but There are two that give me particularly intense pleasure. One of them is the opening line of his essay “On Dreams”:

We spend half the day in the shadow of the earth, brother death asks us to live one third. Most of our sleep is deluded by hallucinations, all the objects of fantasy we admit to being deceived by. Providing us with truth by day and fiction and lies by night divides the natural account of our existence uncomfortably. So, having spent the day in sober work and rational inquiry into truth, we may well come to a state in which the most sane mind has done all the strange things of melancholy, eyes open See, it’s no better and crazy than stupid.

Another paragraph is the last paragraph of Chapter 2 of the huge, honorable, shamefully neglected miscellany of Book 5 Pseudodoxia Epidemica , titled “Picture of a Dolphin”:

Therefore, it must also be photographed A photo of a dolphin grabbing an anchor: that is, not really, as most people conceive, out of affection for humans, to deliver the anchor to the ground: but symbolically, according to Pierius said that the fastest animal with that heavy body implies common morality, Festina lentè: agility Should always be combined with cunctation.

In my opinion, each is in its own way a perfect, multifaceted gem of English prose from a particularly glorious literary era. That man’s music has haunted me for most of my life. In nearly forty years, another man’s cheerful capriciousness has not lost its power to make me laugh. And, no matter how happy I am to read either of these passages alone, it’s nothing compared to the idiotic happiness I get from juxtaposing them. Taken together, they perfectly illustrate the two extremes of the great man’s voice: on the one hand, its luminous beauty and expansive loudness;

One really has to have a mean spirit to not love both. Brown’s prose is a baroque palace of grandeur, through dizzying splendor or lyricism, opulence or grace, weirdness or preciousness, incongruity or harmony, careless vastness or pedantic precision—and always flamboyance. So many volutes and modillions, Solomon columns and gilded cornices, squares and mirrored halls in all its odd and glittering manners . All of this is a monument to the brief, fascinating period of the seventeenth century, when the English language had reached all its expressive capacities and when its greatest writers were not yet guilty of exploiting them to their fullest. Never again has the English alphabet enjoyed such a state of innocence (or exquisite innocence).

Yet, of course, that was also the time of the King James Bible, which was often used and praised for displaying the exact opposite virtue: simplicity, clarity, and plain diction. All of this is undeniably true: King James may be the greatest feat of clear diction in the history of English literature. But is that all there is to the story?

Remember your Creator when you are young, and the evil day is not yet come, nor is the age approaching, when you say, I don’t like They; the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars were not yet darkened, nor was the cloud returned after the rain: that day the watchmen of the houses trembled, and the strong men bowed their knees, and the millers stopped for few, and those who looked out of their windows were darkened , the gates in the streets will be shut, and when the voice of the miller is low, he will rise up amidst the voice of the birds, and the daughters of the music will be humbled; Grasshoppers are a burden, wishes are vain: for man returns to his long home, and mourners go about the streets: loose the silver cords, or break the golden bowls, or break the jugs at the fountains, or store the water The pool office breaks the wheel. The dust returns to the earth, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanity, said the preacher; all is vanity.

This is from Ecclesiastes, and it’s definitely a grand, progressive piece of music, clear in many ways; but it’s not strict; it’s Rhythm and syntax are also quite complex. True, its gleaming juxtapositions stand in stark contrast to Browne’s sprawling brick and mortar architecture. However, the differences are far less absolute than one might initially think. Read again the first few sentences of the “About Dreams” paragraph above. When one puts King James together with prose, not only Brown, but all the great English writers of the period, over a period of generations—John Florio (1552-1625), Lancelot Andrews (1555-1626), John Donne (1572–1631), Robert Burton (1577–1640), Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), Isaac Walton (1593–1679) 1683), John Dryden (1631–1700), Thomas Traherne (c. 1636–1674), Joseph Addison (1672–1719), and more—one cannot help but feel Moving back and forth along a single continuum: not from pompous pomp to unpretentious simplicity, as we tend to think today, but from beautiful to sublime, in the classical, pre-Kantian sense of those terms. In this way, “beautiful” is a style full of shiny decorations, while “sublime” is a style of solemn restraint, “below the threshold” (sub limine) The bareness of the temple, whose rhetorical power somehow surpassed the most spectacular oratory decorations.

Nearly all great national prose tongues, only through the long and long Constant negotiation to reach its highest meridian. And this only comes at the end of a long development period. Being able to balance expressiveness and reticence, or knowing when to get out of it, requires a writer’s wit, ingenuity, and taste; but it also requires a sufficiently mature language. This is why prose of any importance always comes much later in the history of a culture than great poetry. Poetry entered the world almost as early as writing. This is the first flowering of the inner magic of language—its power of invocation and apostrophe, of demystifying the here and now of absence, of making one person open to another. It arises most naturally at the first dawn of language, when something fundamental—something prelinguistic, less conscious—can still be heard in them. However, only when this power has been subdued by centuries of refinement, when the charm of the unconscious is largely mastered by the conscious art, and when the language has acquired a sufficiently rich vocabulary and a sufficiently subtle syntax , and has fully discovered its native rhythm. In English and French this occurs in the early modern period, beginning at the end of the fifteenth century and reaching its insurmountable zenith in the seventeenth century.

Moreover, by that time English had amassed the richest and grandest lexicon of all European languages, full of Teutonic thunder and piercing Latin, But also enriched it with all the other verbal plunder it could wrest from abroad. No other language can achieve such a deep range of organ tones, or have such a vast collection of tubes and stoppers, or have such a huge acoustic space. Of course, no one else could produce the wild polyphony and gorgeous dissonance one hears in Macbeth

, all great Will Neptune’s oceans wash this blood

off my hands? No; I would rather

Wan Hai dyed red

Green and red

This is peculiar to the English language: this clash and confusion of entirely different intonations and structures, and this inexhaustible supply of more and more exotic words, and their finer and finer distinctions in association and connotation.

All the great prose stylists in the ensuing centuries of English literature will freely exploit the capabilities of this remarkable tool. Fashions change over time. Eighteenth-century sensibilities were at one time more Latin, nineteenth-century sensibilities more Anglo-Saxon; but in each generation any influential writer understood the magnitude of the musical power at their disposal. And — well, here, quoting Thomas De Quincey in Confessions of an English opium addict A typical passage in:

The sea, in perpetual and mild agitation, enveloped by dove-like calm, may not properly represent the influence of the time its thoughts and emotions. For it seemed to me then as if I stood first at a distance from the din of life; . Here is the hope that blooms on the way of life, reconciled with the peace in the grave; the movement of reason as indefatigable as the sky, yet to all anxiety a serene calm: a serenity that does not seem to be a product of inertia , but result from a mighty and equal confrontation; infinite activity, infinite rest.

I don’t know why, but in the twentieth century the dominant fashion in English prose has relentlessly moved towards more simplification and aesthetic minimalism . I don’t even fully regret it. Tastes change, and some of these changes are corrections to certain past excesses. But, by and large, the result is an official dogma in favor of a prose so devoid of nuance, elegance, complexity, and originality that it is often not much better than a baby, not only in vocabulary but in artistry And expressive power—a formula, that is, for producing writers who are wholly anonymous in their humdrum mundaneness. Most of the fiction you read in literary journals today is badly written, like most prose, mainly because writers have been taught a style so rigid, barren, savage, dry, and stupidly naive that The best thing it can pull out of them is supervisor dullness. Who can distinguish one author from another?

After all, simplicity is not harder than complexity. Both require taste and skill. Neither is more unnatural or more natural than the other. Both are necessary for good writing. When either one becomes a mandatory regimen, excluding the other, the results can only be dire. A good work does not give up beauty for the sake of the sublime, nor does it give up excess for the sake of restraint, but seeks new ways to coordinate the interaction between them. Now, all the authorities of the age seem to agree that the literary performer should view the console of the organ as a collection of decadent temptations to resist; Pull firmly and the pedals will never be grazed by the wrong toe.

The Exemplars

If I had enough worlds and time, I could use hundreds of Paragraphs from the masters of English prose to fill a book to illustrate my take on what the best writing looks and sounds like. Here, however, I have selected five authors whose work I particularly like. However, to avoid expressing too much my particular taste, I have in each case reproduced a passage that I know others have praised and excerpted in the past. I just want to add that if you want faster instruction in good writing, you can do much worse than these five as your teacher.

Robert Louis Stevenson:

It’s about nine o’clock in the morning, first fog of the season. A huge chocolate-colored haze hung over the sky, but the wind kept blowing, blowing away these embattled vapors. So Mr Utterson saw a twilight of stunning degrees and tones as the taxi crawled from street to street. For here it would be as dark as the black end of evening; there would be a rich, harsh brown light, like the light of some strange fire. For a moment, the fog would lift completely, and a haggard beam of daylight would pass between the swirling garlands. Amid these shifting vistas, Soho’s shady neighborhoods, muddy roads, sleazy commuters, and lamps that never go out or relight to fight the darkness’ tragic re-invasion seem to lawyers like some city in a nightmare an area of ​​. (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

Sylvia Townsend Warner:

She doesn’t want beauty at all, or while she’s depressed, she’ll buy one at the Met and go somewhere Or ticket rail elsewhere, out to see the beauty of autumn lying across the country. Her mind was chasing something she had never experienced, something dark and dangerous, but somehow pleasant; It can be seen in the sound of water and the call of ominous birds. The loneliness, the dullness, the feeling of being prone to fear, a sort of ungodly sanctity—these were the things that kept her mind from the comfort of the fireside. (

Lolly Willowes)

JA Baker:

The valley sank into mist, the horizon’s yellow orbital ring closed on the sun’s blinding cornea. The eastern ridges bloom purple, Then fades to a harmful black. The earth exhales into the cold evening. Frost forms in the cavity, obscured by the afterglow. The owl wakes up and hoots. The first stars spiraled down. Like a perched eagle, I listen to the silence and gaze into the darkness. (Peregrine )

Patrick Leigh Fermor:

The poppies are scattered, the golden-green waves of the cornfields are faded. The red sun appears to tip one end of a pair of scales below the horizon while lifting the orange moon at the other. After only two days, it rose from behind the trees, quickly losing its luster as it floated, until the wheat loomed through the twilight like a sea of ​​metallic prickly prickles. (

between wood and water )

Radimir Nabokov:

I remember a particular sunset. It lent embers to my bicycle bell. Overhead, above the black music of electric wires, many long dark purple clouds fanned out, and pink flamingos hung motionless. As far as color and form goes, the whole thing is like a huge hoot! Yet it is dying, and all else is darkening; but just above the horizon, in a clear, turquoise space, under black stratus clouds, the eye finds a picture that only a fool would mistake is the vista of this or any other square part of the sunset. It occupies a small portion of the vast sky and has the eerie neatness of something seen from the wrong end of a telescope. There it waits, a serene cloud, a brilliant swirl, creamy out of place, and terribly remote; remote yet perfect in every detail; wonderfully reduced but perfect in shape; my fair tomorrow is already Ready to deliver to me. (

speak, remember )

The Rules

It might be a very presumptuous thing to come up with a list of rules for a writer. The only authority it can possibly have is one’s own example, so offering it to the world is a gamble. One has to assume that one’s own work will impress most readers enough to provide the necessary credentials for the task. If someone is wrong on this point, posting these rules will only invite ridicule. I mean, for heaven’s sake, Steven Pinker (of all people) has published a book on style. How could anyone take this seriously?

Not that being a good writer guarantees that one has any great talent in the arts to instruct others. EB White is an absolutely brilliant stylist; he writes prose so clearly that he’s even able to trick himself into thinking it’s a triumph of simple phrasing rather than (as is the case) very subtle complexity sex. But he was also the main perpetrator of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, by far the most influential and pernicious of its kind in English Books: A total collection of dumb advice and grammatical ignorance. Likewise, George Orwell was a very competent (albeit dull) stylist. Yet his famous essay, Politics and the English Language, which denounced obscurantist jargon, survives today mainly as a literary manifesto of vernacularism. If White or Orwell had followed his own pompous advice faithfully, neither White nor Orwell would be so missed as he is now.

Anyway, all things considered, I offer the following only for those who like my work, or at least consider it accomplished enough to make me a reliable authority on these matters. These are at least the rules I abide by, and the ones that best express my literary taste. In fact, the first three were my direct contacts with editors and reviewers.


1. Always use the word that best expresses what you want to say, regardless of how common or familiar the word is. A writer should never worry about what his or her readers may or may not know, but should only worry about underestimating them. As Nabokov said, a good reader always comes with a dictionary and never resents being introduced to a new term. I call it the “rule of utter horror” simply because an editor tried unsuccessfully to dissuade me from writing about some “debater who stumbles across invisible disciplinary boundaries in a stupor of utter horror.” The edit lost the argument because there is absolutely no other word in the English language that expresses exactly what I want to say.

2. Always use the words that you think best suit the effect you want to produce, both image and sound, and the range of connotations and associations you want to evoke. I call this the “transparency rule” because I have a line in a book called The Doors of the Sea : “At the coastline, the lovely shimmering transparent waters are at once polluted with silt, debris and the darkness of the seabed, and rise with such horrific suddenness that few – even as far away as Sri Lanka – have enough time to escape ’” An irate reader complained that I could have just as easily used the word “sluggish” instead, as any decent, down-to-earth person would have done. But I chose “hyaline” for very specific reasons: it’s a precise word that means “glassy,” mostly referring to crystal-like translucency; it’s pronounced just right—three syllables, lovely long The vowel i, the equally lovely liquid “l” and smooth shiny “n”, all of which give the tongue a glassy watery feel; in the context of this book, it’s a perfect word because it Echoes the thalassa hyalinē in the Book of Revelation, “The sea of ​​glass is like crystal” before the throne of God, and Milton’s “In In a sea of ​​crystal clear glass..” Perhaps no reader will realize all this; but I know what I’m doing, so any other word is a cowardly surrender to the common man.

3. It is used when an extremely obscure but absolutely accurate and appropriate word needs to be used. I call it the “pogonotrophy rule” because I once wrote about Rowan Williams’s A book was reviewed, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, after an extremely stupid reporter suggested his reputation as an intellectual was simply the result of his mustache. This gave me an opportunity to use that wonderful word, which I’ve always reserved when appropriate. Surely such an opportunity will never come again; and if I let it pass unexplored, I should take its sorrow to my grave.

4. Never use a word simply because it is obscure, but never hesitate to use a word because it is obscure. All the grand rococo embellishments in your prose you want will show themselves if you follow rule 1 above, showing off by scrupulous precision.

5. Don’t use a thesaurus. A putative synonym list won’t let you know the most appropriate meaning and usage of any word. If you want to recall a word you know but somehow refuses to come to your memory, maybe you’ll find it in a book like this; maybe, if you happen to be writing humorous poetry and have a tricky scanning problem, You may find something suitable there. Otherwise, read widely for meaning and usage (use that dictionary Nabokov recommends).

6. The exotic is often more pleasant than the familiar. Be kind to your readers and give them something exotic when possible. In general, life is pretty boring, and a writer should try to alleviate that boredom rather than encourage it.


7. Sometimes less is more. More often, more is more and less is less. Sometimes, more is the least one can do for the reader.

8. If you have to choose between elegance and perfect clarity, allow yourself to hesitate for a while, then always choose grace.

9. Never waste an opportunity for eloquence. I once told in print the notorious story of Schopenhauer throwing an old washerwoman down a flight of stairs, and describing how he had at one point caught her “withered windpipe”. Self-indulgent, no doubt, but moments like this feel like you’ve lived to a purpose.

10. In “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell lays out six rules, the first of which is a fair warning against the use of clichéd metaphors, but the second is “Do not use long words when short ones can be used.” It’s a foolish adage that gathers almost every philistine in itself. What he should have written was “Don’t like it because it’s short, don’t like it because it’s long, but always use the word you think best combines meaning, happiness, connotation, wit, and sound, without worrying about your readers Is it possible to recognize it.”

11. Orwell also said: “If it is possible to delete a word, delete it forever.” There is no great word in the history of any language. Most writers have followed this rule, and no aspiring writer should follow it. The correct advice is “If a word is so exaggerated that it mars the effect of the sentence, remove it; but never remove a word just because it is possible.”

12. Orwell went on to order: “Never use the passive where the active could be.” This is probably the worst rule of style anyone can ever come up with. All literary history declares it stupid. Instead: “Avoid the passive voice when the active voice works better, and vice versa.” After all, in life, we sometimes act and sometimes are influenced. In academic terms, the causal dialectic between agency and patience is inherent in finitude.

13. Orwell’s next order was “Do not use foreign phrases, scientific words, or jargon if you can think of an equivalent in everyday English.” “. Use a foreign-language phrase freely where it is appropriate or pleasant, and always do so when the idea it expresses is more elegant or aphoristic than any English equivalent (e.g., the phrase l’ esprit d’escalier ). English is a glorious mongrel language, always looting other languages ​​for its shiny trinkets. Also, always — always — use precise scientific terms in context where they are closely related.

14. Orwell’s final injunction was to “break any of these rules without saying anything downright barbaric.” However, since following his rules produces barbaric prose about half the time, he should have read ” Ignore these rules, except for the rules about clichéd metaphors and some jargon.”

15. Strunk and White’s Style Elements
states: “Put related words together.” This is hollow. An embarrassing rupture of reason is obviously to be avoided. As a principle, however, this little axiom isn’t just bad advice; it’s an abandonment of the language itself. As any decent student of linguistics knows, one of the main differences between actual linguistic meaning (on the one hand) and mere sounds and gestures (on the other) is that the former relies on structure rather than spatial proximity. The ability to qualify predicate phrases by inserting clauses (for example) is one of the invaluable achievements that distinguish us from baboons.

16. That same book advises: “Write with nouns and verbs, not adjectives and adverbs.” That’s morons. Better not to write at all than to try to pay attention to such nasty Puritan nonsense. Write in a variety of words that suit your purpose.

17. In fact, if you own a copy of The Elements of Style, just destroy the damn thing. It’s the plague in your library. Most of the style rules it contains are hollow, arbitrary, or impossible to follow, and life is better off without them. And the material on grammar and usage is often worse. Some of this is just inherited bogus titles—“however” must always be a post-positive affirmative, “which” cannot be used in restrictive relative clauses, and other such nonsense—all glossed over by the entire canon of English literature. Others, however, are evidence of astonishing ignorance. It’s bad enough that the manual insists that in principle passive voice must be chosen over active voice; but worse, it then cites several examples of supposed passive voice sentences when in fact this is not the case at all . One of them—”There are a lot of dead leaves on the ground”—seems to have been chosen only because “laying” sounds like a passive thing to do. Neither Strunk nor White knew the difference between the passive past perfect and active intransitive verbs—or, as the book also shows, the difference between passive and active past perfect, or between passive and an Distinguishing the past participle of an adjective without an auxiliary verb – what a shock. However, it does teach a useful lesson: Never mistake an authoritative tone for evidence of actual expertise.

18. All these tedious dogmatic injunctions — urging you to write only simple declarative sentences, stripping modifiers, using only words familiar to the average 10-year-old, and asking you to always prefer charcoal gray to gorgeous purple — are everything A spiritually breathless expression about late modernity and its bana us values. They reflect an age in which the mysterious, the evocative, and the exquisite ellipsis were systematically suppressed and all but disappeared in the name of efficiency, utility, mechanics, and unmistakability—in short, in the name of everything. Names make life unattractive, life dull. They reflect an age of cold-blooded capitalist economy, ruled by brutal common sense, the savage triumph of function over form, austere spartan urban architecture of featureless glass, steel and plastic, a city built with constant production and production subsistence consumerist society. Handles conveniences that are inherently inelegant. Learn to loathe all of these things, and you’ll become a better writer for doing it.

19. Always read aloud what you write. No matter how detailed your prose is, it has to flow; it has to feel truly continuous. That’s not to say that natural language has to be imitated; it’s just that one has to try to capture its rhythm. If what you write is awkward on your tongue, it’s also awkward on the page.


20. People with discerning eyes rarely mistake bad writing for good, but it often does for greatness. Keep this in mind when considering the work of an author you want to emulate.

twenty one. Truly great writing is often inimitable, because the better a writer is, the more distinctive his or her voice will be. Keep this in mind when considering the work of an author you want to emulate.

twenty two. If you’ve ever taken a “creative writing” class, try to remember as vividly as possible the kind of prose your teacher encouraged you to write, and then do your best to avoid writing that.

twenty three. If you were told at school that Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea was a prime example of good writing, please don’t make this stupid mistake again. In fact, it’s an excruciating sample of bad schoolboy prose written by a writer who, alas, was often drunk, often concussed, and often praised.

24 . Especially American writers, especially young American writers, especially young American male writers : There is an Indigenous tradition on these coasts called “American Sublime” – although in many cases it might be better called “American Fustian”. When William Faulkner and Thomas Wolfe were at their their worst, and a few others whose names I omitted here author. As a people, we love to go for grandiose effects, often far more than any reasonable occasion. Whether it’s because of our magnificent landscape, or lack of a rich cultural history, I can’t guess. I wouldn’t say you have to completely resist the temptation of this style. It’s also in our best literature—Melville and Emerson, Muir and Thoreau, and so on—and it’s often glorious. Still, succumbing to it is only limited to the extent you can control the power you unleash. Otherwise, you’re stuck in casual imitation.

Punctuation marks:

25. Writers who despise semicolons are fools. In fact, hostility to this most subtle and lyrical of punctuation marks is a sure sign of a deformed soul and savage sensibilities. Conscious life is not a crude concatenation of discrete units of experience; it is generally fluid, unaffected by rigidly divided and impermeable divisions, by transitions that are neither fully terminated nor fully continuous Always interrupt . Moreover, meanings are often held together by elusive connections, vague referential shifts, and mysterious coherence. Art should use whatever tools it has to express these ambiguous events and inexplicable alternations. To master the semicolon is to master prose. To master the semicolon is to master the uncanny ability of language to capture the shape of reality.

26. Its delicate, fluid beauty is second only to the semicolon, and the whimsy is the dash. Cherish it. Give up using it.


27. Those reading only People who read for information rather than for the words on the page have every right to do so. But don’t write for them.

28. The only book reviewers of any importance are themselves exceptional writers. Cultivate your own critical intelligence, and try to read your own work impartially; but willfully ignore criticism from the unfinished.

29. Don’t write to the level you think your readers will be (unless you’re writing specifically for very young children). It’s unfair to them and to you. Even if your assumptions about them are correct, you should respect them by assuming that they know what you know, or can learn, or at least are willing to try. Indeed, some readers resented their own inability to understand any complex prose or to recognize more obscure words than they were accustomed to using when talking to dogs. They will always blame the author rather than themselves. You owe them absolutely nothing. If you’re always trying to get down to the lowest common denominator, you’ll never hit bottom, but you’ll definitely end up losing the interest of your better readers. Sadly, we are living in a time of declining literacy and attention spans that get worse every year. You must not make any concessions to reality unless you are finally ready to give up writing altogether.

Last thing:

30. Memento mori. Someday you will die, return to your long home, and your voice will be silenced. You only have so much time to reveal the treasures of your mind and soul. Don’t waste the little time allotted to you to produce work that is only for the present and not for future generations.

31. Know the names of things and places. Both are a kind of poetry, and both contain mysteries. It is an ancient intuition that to have a proper name for something is to have control over it; Endless richness manifests itself. This is because language is magic.

32. Language is magic. This is calling and calling. With words, we conjure up oceans and forests, stars and distant galaxies, past and future and myths, real and unreal, possible and impossible. We create worlds with words—in our imaginations, in the realm of ideas, on the stage of history. Through words, we reveal things that would otherwise be hidden, even our inner selves. etc. As you write, try to weave a mantra. If this is not your intention, please don’t write it.

33. As you approach the end of your life, you will be able to look back on your work with satisfaction if there has ever been a moment in your prose when you have achieved exactly what you hoped to achieve. Make a mental note of these so you can refer back to them when you find yourself feeling down, uninspired, or suffering from self-doubt. I offer two of these moments of my own in my parting, not because either one is the best thing I’ve ever written, but simply because each happens to (almost miraculously) have the The form and effect of writing it.

The first one isn’t even a complete sentence, but just a series of fragmented impressions in a story called “Voices from the Emerald World”:

Among the fluttering leaves, between the slowly swaying stalks, a pale golden light. . . and, when I looked up, there was a soft gleam in that big blue eye, surrounded by watery glints of green and silver leaves. . . That blank, cold, mysterious gaze. . . .

The second is a short passage near the end of the novel titled Kenogaia


He can even see Kenopolis from here, no longer shrouded in storm clouds Moisture surrounds the twilight of the moonlit port, the bay, and the sea; but now, it all looks very small, like a sprawling sandcastle of towers in a shallow tidal pool, waiting to be destroyed by rising waves, or like a nursery A frayed cardboard diorama in a neglected corner. Why, he mused, had they ever felt the need to escape from something so queer and ephemeral?

Only I can really know what it’s about and I find every one of them very enjoyable; but, believe me, this knowledge Make all the hard work of writing seem well worth it.



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