Sentence: description or construction?

I want to show you something I’m reading about sentences. Let me know your thoughts.

The main point is this: “There are no descriptions in fiction, there are only constructions.” (this reading is from Philosophy and the Form of Fiction by William H Gass)

We start with a paragraph describing a character named Magister Nicholas Udal. (from The Fifth Queen, Ford Maddox Ford)

 

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Next, we look at removing the colon, and placing that sentence at the end of the paragraph to see how that changes our comprehension of the character.

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Next, the possessives related to clothing are removed, the ‘his doctor’s gown’ is changed to ‘a doctor’s gown’ and the same with the cap.

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And then the same is done with Udal’s features.

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Next, he plays around by letting him own his clothes but not his face:

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from Philospophy and the Form of Fiction by William H Gass.

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One thought on “Sentence: description or construction?

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  1. I would agree that the reader – each unique reader, and even each subsequent reading by the same reader – is constructing and reconstructing the story as she reads, using the material the author has chosen to place in her way, the order in which it has been placed, and additional forces. In that regard, isn’t the author first describing the story, as she perceives it?
    (A story that is truly “constructed” by the author will feel forced, contrived. One that derives from the authentic perception of the author is likely to feel more authentic.)

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