five days five quotes challenge – #3

So far so good with the quotations then. This one may seem bit different  at first – but then maybe you are starting to see a bit of a theme in my choices...

First sentences are promissory notes. Whether they foreshadow plot, sketch in character, establish mood, or jump-start arguments, the road ahead of them stretches invitingly and all things are, at least for the moment, possible. Last sentences are more contained in their possibilities. They can sum up, refuse to sum up, change the subject, leave you satisfied, leave you wanting more, put everything into perspective, or explode perspectives. They do have one advantage: they become the heirs of the interest that is generated by everything that precedes them; they don’t have to start the engine, all they have to do is shut it down. This means they often come across as elegiac: the reader is leaving something he or she has grown fond of, and will therefore be inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the author’s parting statement.

Stanley Fish (2011) How to write a sentence and how to read one. New York: Harper Collins p. 119-120

I always get a kick out of seeing this manuscript in the British Library treasures room. But ‘Dear reader’ isn’t, as many think, the last sentence at all, but the first of the last.


About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
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1 Response to five days five quotes challenge – #3

  1. Reblogged this on Caroline+Kühn and commented:
    The way to describe a first and last sentence in a piece of writing is just.too much!!
    Again, in awe to Patt Thomson and her magnificent advise. I am getting there!


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