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Thou sir Launcelot there thou lyest that thou were neuer matched of erthely knyghtes hande
& thou were the curtest knyght that euer bare shelde
& thou were the truest frende to thy louar that euer bestrade hors
& thou were the trewest louer of a synful man that euer loued woman
& thou were the kyndest man that euer strake wyth swerde
& thou were the godelyest persone þt euer cam emonge prees of knyghtes
& thou was the mekest man & the Ientyllest that euer ete in halle emonge ladyes
& thou were the sternest knyght to thy mortal foo that euer put spere in the breste
than there was wepyng & dolour out of mesure
Thus they kepte syr Launcelots corps on lofte xv dayes & than they buryed it with grete deuocyon
& than at leyser they wente al with the bysshop of canterburye to his ermytage & there they were to gyder more than a monthe.
–Sir Thomas Mallory, The Morte D’Arthur lib xxi, cap xiii (ca. 1460)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”