Apr. 11th, 2017 05:29 pm
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The first few paragraphs of The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids (1855), in which Melville goes gorgeously nuts developing atmosphere:

It lies not far from Temple Bar.

Going to it, by the usual way, is like stealing from a heated plain into some cool, deep glen, shady among harboring hills.

Sick with the din and soiled with the mud of Fleet Street--where the Benedick tradesmen are hurrying by, with ledger-lines ruled along their brows, thinking upon the rise of bread and the fall of babies--you adroitly turn a mystic corner--not a street--glide down a dim, monastic way, flanked by dark, sedate, and solemn piles, and still wending on, give the whole careworn world the slip, and, disentangled, stand beneath the quiet cloisters of the Paradise of Bachelors.

Sweet are the oases in Sahara; charming are the isle-groves of August prairies; delectable pure faith amidst a thousand perfidies; but sweeter, still more charming, most delectable, the dreamy Paradise of Bachelors, found in the stony heart of stuttering London.

In mild meditation pace the cloisters; take your pleasure, sip your leisure, in the garden waterward; go linger in the ancient library; go worship in the sculpted chapel; but little have you seen, just nothing do you know, not the sweet kernel have you tasted, till you dine among the banded Bachelors, and see their convivial eyes and glasses sparkle.

How easy it would be to oversell, to kill this in an audiobook; the rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and syncrisis does 99% of the work for you.


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