The most prominent object was a long table with a tablecloth spread on it, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the clocks all stopped together. An epergene or centre-piece of some kind was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with cobwebs that its form was quite undistinguishable; and, as I looked along the yellow expanse, out of which I remember its seeming to grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if some circumstance of the greatest public importance had just transpired in the spider community.
—Charles Dickens, from Great Expectations


Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
[Dickens] can spin out a long sentence or a paragraph, load it with similes and metaphors, and tie on strings of subordinate clauses without making us wonder what he means or why something sounds so wrong. And when he makes "mistakes"—dropping plot threads, leaving questions unanswered—we hardly notice or mind, because his work has already given us so much pleasure. [Above] is a passage…to remind those who may have forgotten what "Dickensian" actually suggests—the well-known description of Miss Havisham's room from Great Expectations.
—Francine Prose from "After Great Expectations," NYRB (Jan 9, 2014). Prose is the author of Reading Like a Writer and My New American Life.