Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I Bear The Burden Of Excessive Purple Prose With Limited Dignity

In the past couple weeks I have discovered that my little sister has a very strong aversion to purple prose.

At one point in the past week my little sister told me if I did not cease with sending her purple prose she would block my email.

I was appalled.

When the subject of purple prose first came up I was not sure it was a real thing.

Til I Googled it.

Googling "purple prose" I quickly learned that purple prose has long plagued the planet.

The alliterative "purple prose has long plagued the planet" may be an example of purple prose. I'm not sure. I think I may go into purple prose mode, inadvertently, and am now mortified that I have someone telling me I have been purple prosing.

That has ever happened. Til now.

The people who read my prose have been much too polite to point out that it is often purple. Except for my little sister.

Those who define such things define purple prose as a term which describes written passages written in prose so overwrought, so ornate, so extravagant, so florid, that it breaks the reading flow and draws attention to itself.

One of the most famous examples of purple prose comes from an author named Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who began his novel, Paul Clifford, with this famous sentence....

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

This sentence is often shortened to "It was a dark and stormy night," which gave rise to the famous, annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which writers compete to outdo Bulwer-Lytton with a piece of purple prose that exceeds his dark and stormy night.

Another famous example of Bulwer-Lytton purple prose, from the same novel that gave us a "dark and stormy night" is, instead of simply writing "Once the lady lit her pipe," he wrote, "As soon as the Promethean spark had been fully communicated to the lady's tube."

Now that my little sister has so kindly pointed out to me how out of control I am with my purple prose I am going to try, real hard, really, I promise, real hard, to try to make my prose less purple.

This is a worthy goal I do not know if I am worthy of attaining.

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