Paratalk or torque?

My new column, with a title that somehow makes sense. From now on until I stop I will be examining a paragraph in whatever detail I choose. This is also a good time for guests to pop in and do their own paragraph.

Today I’m looking at Dracula by Bram Stoker

As we wound on our endless way, and the sun sank lower and lower behind
us, the shadows of the evening began to creep round us. This was
emphasised by the fact that the snowy mountain-top still held the
sunset, and seemed to glow out with a delicate cool pink. Here and there
we passed Cszeks and Slovaks, all in picturesque attire, but I noticed
that goitre was painfully prevalent. By the roadside were many crosses,
and as we swept by, my companions all crossed themselves. Here and there
was a peasant man or woman kneeling before a shrine, who did not even
turn round as we approached, but seemed in the self-surrender of
devotion to have neither eyes nor ears for the outer world. There were
many things new to me: for instance, hay-ricks in the trees, and here
and there very beautiful masses of weeping birch, their white stems
shining like silver through the delicate green of the leaves. Now and
again we passed a leiter-wagon–the ordinary peasant’s cart–with its
long, snake-like vertebra, calculated to suit the inequalities of the
road. On this were sure to be seated quite a group of home-coming
peasants, the Cszeks with their white, and the Slovaks with their
coloured, sheepskins, the latter carrying lance-fashion their long
staves, with axe at end. As the evening fell it began to get very cold,
and the growing twilight seemed to merge into one dark mistiness the
gloom of the trees, oak, beech, and pine, though in the valleys which
ran deep between the spurs of the hills, as we ascended through the
Pass, the dark firs stood out here and there against the background of
late-lying snow. Sometimes, as the road was cut through the pine woods
that seemed in the darkness to be closing down upon us, great masses of
greyness, which here and there bestrewed the trees, produced a
peculiarly weird and solemn effect, which carried on the thoughts and
grim fancies engendered earlier in the evening, when the falling sunset
threw into strange relief the ghost-like clouds which amongst the
Carpathians seem to wind ceaselessly through the valleys. Sometimes the
hills were so steep that, despite our driver’s haste, the horses could
only go slowly. I wished to get down and walk up them, as we do at home,
but the driver would not hear of it. “No, no,” he said; “you must not
walk here; the dogs are too fierce”; and then he added, with what he
evidently meant for grim pleasantry–for he looked round to catch the
approving smile of the rest–“and you may have enough of such matters
before you go to sleep.” The only stop he would make was a moment’s
pause to light his lamps.

A couple of interesting things here. I took this quote from Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is an ambitious project designed to digitise much of the world’s literature. They focus on books that are out of copyright. There are issues with them at times as the texts have been scanned in and that can produce errors. They do have an enormous proofreading team, I did consider joining them at one point back in the day when I had more time, but despite this errors can creep in.

Have a look at the paragraph I’ve put in above. You’ll notice it’s very long. I have the same text on my computer from HarperPerennial Classics and this paragraph shows as two separate paragraphs with the break being between ‘leaves’ and ‘now’. I can’t decide whether this difference is because of the scanning or the change in writing style and how we often have shorter paragraphs now.

Anyway, it’s a book everyone should probably read once. I know it’s not to everyone’s taste and it is dated, but it’s the background to so many Dracula/Vampire stories. To facilitate that here’s an affiliate link which you don’t have to use, you could just get a free copy. Should you use my affiliate link I will receive the vast sum of 4c to add to my coffee fund. You can download the Gutenberg version here in your format of choice.

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