Category: Language

Length Matters: How Many Words Does It Take?

How long is a sentence? The answer I got in junior high school was “long enough to finish the thought.” Cheeky.

For years, the longest sentence ever written in English was said to be Molly Bloom’s 3,687-word soliloquy in the James Joyce novel Ulysses (1922). However, one of the finalists for the 2019 Booker Prize was Lucy Ellman, whose 1,000-page Ducks, Newburyport consists mostly of a single sentence that runs to 426,000 words. Beat that if you can.

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Pure Word Music

I was about thirteen, an impressionable age, when among the stacks in my small hometown library, I stumbled upon the novels of P. G. Wodehouse (pronounced “Woodhouse,” by the way). For the first time in my life I realized that a story could be brilliant, not only for what was said but also for how it was said.

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