Is there anyone who can recover the experience of his childhood, not merely with a memory of what he did and what happened to him, of what he liked and disliked when he was in frock and trousers, but with an intimate penetration, a revived consciousness of what he felt then—when it was so long from one midsummer to another—what he felt when his schoolfellows shut him out of their game because he would pitch the ball wrong out of mere willfulness; or on a rainy day in the holidays when he didn’t know how to amuse himself and fell from idleness into mischief, from mischief into defiance, and from defiance into sulkiness; or when his mother absolutely refused to let him have a tailed coat that ‘half,’ although every other boy of his age had gone into tails already?
—George Eliot, from The Mill on the Floss


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
Eliot’s compassion towards her children characters, her delicate understanding of the forgotten child in each of us, as well as her sense of humor gives this sentence a Proustian quality: First, because it is a very long sentence, a “Proustian sentence” we would call it, even though Proust’s long sentences were probably the influence of his classical predecessors; second, because it is full of a subtle irony which I love in both Eliot and Proust; third, because, like Proust's madeleine, it refers to a lost memory, a memory based not in fact but in sensation, Eliot’s “intimate penetration” and “revived consciousness.” It seems to me that the art of the novel should have no other goal but to revive the consciousness of the lost sensation.
—Catherine Cusset is the author of Un brilliant avenir, Indigo, and The Story of Jane