Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Run-on Sentence and Charles Dickens

You will have noticed by now that I am fond of run-on sentences and use them all the time, often with a sense of barely repressed glee. You have no idea how it used to irritate me to have my sentences corrected back in the day when anyone cared enough to try and correct me. Now they know better.

But I do realize, I mean, I am aware, that there are many out there in Internet-land who believe that this style of writing is wrong, also very wrong, and some people believe that it is also extremely and definitely very wrong.

Well, I just don't agree and for support I am going to call upon my friend the well-known writer Charles Dickens. This is from an essay he wrote in 1852 about the "Ragged Schools" movement in England of the time. I am sure you will agree with me that Mr. Dickens knows how to write English and that we should strive to emulate him in our own work.

I offer no apology for entreating the attention of the readers of The Daily News to an effort which has been making for some three years and a half, and which is making now, to introduce among the most miserable and neglected outcasts in London, some knowledge of the commonest principles of morality and religion; to commence their recognition as immortal human creatures, before the Gaol Chaplain becomes their only schoolmaster; to suggest to Society that its duty to this wretched throng, foredoomed to crime and punishment, rightfully begins at some distance from the police office; and that the careless maintenance from year to year, in this, the capital city of the world, of a vast hopeless nursery of ignorance, misery and vice; a breeding place for the hulks and jails: is horrible to contemplate.

Now that is a run-on sentence to be proud of.  I have a ways to go before I reach Mr. Dickens' level of excellence in this area.  But I will try.

If you don't know about the Ragged Schools, its a great story, and here is the Wikipedia page:

The above quote is from an article written by Charles Dickens for The Daily News, published in 1852. See http://www.infed.org/archives/e-texts/dickens_ragged_schools.htm for the complete essay.

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