Paratalk or torque?

Suzie Eisfelder

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 a paragraph from National Velvet by Enid Bagnold. I reckon it must have been an iconic book in its day and was made into an iconic movie, one that everyone should watch. I’ve scribbled some slightly coherent words about this book before but as I’m not happy with my writing I’m not linking to them.

Sir Pericles, the little creature, brilliant and honest, never looked to right or left but stayed where Velvet drove him, straight at the middle of each hurdle. He fled along the grass, jumping as neatly as a cat, swung round the sharp, uphill corner towards the table where the sewers stood, Velvet kicking the stirrups free, neck and neck with the livery-man on a blue roan. The roan drew ahead. The sewers’ table neared. Velvet flung herself off as they drew up; her feet ran in the air, then met the ground and ran beside the horse.

This is a very exciting paragraph. I don’t care much for sport of any kind but this paragraph actually makes my heart race a little. It seems to give the impression of speed and excitement and actually draws me in to wanting to watch how it all works.

The description of the horse is both demeaning and uplifting. Demeaning as Bagnold has used the words ‘little creature’ which makes the horse seem less than it is, I mean, a horse used in one of these races is really quite big yet she’s called him ‘little’. But then she’s used the words ‘brilliant and honest’ anthropomorphising him and giving him human characteristics.

And then there’s the description of Velvet getting off the horse. It’s as if she’s as light as a feather with the ability to make the horse run faster by having her feet move as if she’s running in the air. It’s very description and eye-catching.

This book was written in 1935 and is still available for sale today. And in case you want to read it and see the rest of the descriptions, feel the excitement that is palpable on almost every page here’s an affiliate link, should you decide to buy using this link I will receive a few cents into in my coffee fund.

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