Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Stench of Turgid Prose, Part 3

Today's example comes from Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, a book not to be put down lightly, but (as Dorothy Parker would say) to be hurled with some force to a far corner of the room.

In Chapter 4 of The Da Vinci Code, we encounter:

Captain Bezu Fache carried himself like an angry ox, with his wide shoulders thrown back and his chin tucked hard into his chest. His dark hair was slicked back with oil, accentuating an arrow-like widow's peak that divided his jutting brow and preceded him like the prow of a battleship. As he advanced, his dark eyes seemed to scorch the earth before him, radiating a fiery clarity that forecast his reputation for unblinking severity in all matters.

Do angry oxen throw their shoulders back and tuck their chins hard into their chests? Maybe. I'll have to pay more attention, next time I'm around an ox.

We know what a widow's peak looks like. Is there really any need to say "arrow-like"?

If the widow's peak preceded him like the prow of a battleship, it must have been several yards long and quite heavy.

How do eyes seem to scorch something?

What precisely is a fiery clarity?

How does a clarity (fiery or otherwise) get "radiated"?

How does a fiery clarity forecast things?

Doesn't forecast mean predict? How does a clarity make predictions?

Does severity blink? Does it unblink?

Grade: D-minus. We get that Bezu Fache is ox-like, has a widow's peak, and has dark eyes. Fair enough. But please, don't tell us about eyes that seem to scorch things while radiating clarities that predict reputations for severity.


3 comments:

  1. I received this book, hardcover picture edition, as a Christmas gift some years ago. I got perhaps 30% into it and then set it down, never to return to it. I've never felt compelled to finish it and your post reminds me just why!

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  2. Anonymous12:22 PM

    I've never read the Da Vinci Code and after reading that paragraph, can honestly say that I won't be reading it in the future.

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  3. B+ . You have to consider what the text is for. This is not technical writing, but entertainment. He's taking the reader on an adventure.

    I would say it's a bit dense. No normal reader can take in that much information packed into one paragraph at a normal reading speed.

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