quote of the moment: back-dated

March 5, 2010

…as the sleek geldings ambled in review before them.”

– pg. 80, The Awakening and selected stories of Kate Chopin.

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This quote just made me sit up and marvel at how sophisticated English could be when it was used much more formally. We oooh and aaah these days at prose that is edgy, post-modern, non-linear and so forth… but I think this straight-forward, one-dimensional descriptive language demonstrates a masterful skill with words. I had brought up the emphasis on skill in my first post about Chopin as well, likening her artistry to that of a sculptor chiseling away deftly to delineate the character of the scene.

This quote is from a passage describing Edna’s experience at the races, as she sits and watches the event with her two companions. A gelding, as you may or may not know, is a castrated animal, in particular a horse. I really appreciate the fact that Chopin expresses so much about the scene in this phrase, even though it doesn’t directly relate to any obvious theme in the passage. The phrase “ambled in review” lends such a sharp degree of perception, so much weighty meaning to the movement of the animals in front of them. It’s also just damn stylish. There’s a pure joy of description, of translating visuals into words.

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