Nicole and I have talked about how dense the book is, and “Water—The Arrival” is probably the most straightforward of the novel’s four parts. To put some flesh on this first part, I put together a program that would break things out sentence by sentence. Here are the vital statistics on “Water—The Arrival.”
- There are 420 sentences.
- The longest sentence is 456 words!
- Mean sentence length is 49 words.
- Median sentence length is 167 words.
There are, of course a number of one- or two-word sentences, usually conversations between characters or jeers from the unruly Roman crowd. There are also some unusual grammatical features: —fragments set off like this one by a colon and dashes. I counted each of these as a separate sentence. If I were to exclude these short declarations, the average would obviously creep up. That’s why median sentence length is perhaps most illustrative of the novelist’s grammatical style.
Oh yeah, my mistakes. In an earlier post, I said that Broch had enrolled (in mid-life) at university to study with Rudolf Carnap. That’s exactly right. But I then said that the Vienna Circle was antipositivist. Not exactly right. In fact, not even close to right. The Vienna Circle is of course the progenitor of logical positivism. But Broch himself was an antipositivist, and it was his frustration with Carnap and others that led him to turn toward art.
I also want to make sure I’m clear on Broch’s publishing history. The Sleepwalkers was published in German in 1931, and was translated into English in 1936. So the fallow years of Broch were between 1925 and 1931, not until 1935 as I had said in an earlier post. The Death of Virgil was published in 1945. My apologies for the confusion! I’ve been reading too much Broch….