Back in the day, good writing meant it was a goal to make sentences short. As I have grown older this rule has served me well, especially as it relates to technical writing.

I am looking for a humorous example of the opposite -- a full paragraph 5, 6, or more lines long but consisting of only one sentence. Any referrals or leads to such an animal would be greatly appreciated.

Jim T.

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    Not an actual example, but this was the first thing I thought of: dilbert.com/strip/1998-11-28
    – KeithS
    Oct 29 '15 at 20:20
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    Just as a note, but the bulk of Ephesians 1 is one sentence in the original Greek. Paul is the oldest example I'm aware of of someone writing an excellent run-on sentence.
    – Thom
    Oct 30 '15 at 11:48
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    You'd do well to read William Faulkner.
    – Ricky
    Nov 23 '15 at 21:31

I had an English professor who loved these just the other semester. She ruined my writing style with her love of long sentences.

Edited into a slight run-on from what it was.

"The culmination of the progressionist speech for which I labored was often criticism, bored expressions, and, sometimes, outright rejection; thus, after unsuccessful revisions and heartfelt considerations, I came to a conclusion: no radical idea, however expertly or clumsily delivered and written, will be unanimously accepted; instead, radical ideas will often encounter criticism without constructive comment, but this fact does not negate our responsibility to write them and take a stand."

It's not humorous, though. And notice that I say "slight." Slight because of the monster with which I am about to hammer you. Herman Melville has some egregious ones. This one I find humorous solely in its length.

"Though in many natural objects, whiteness refiningly enhances beauty, as if imparting some special virtue of its own, as in marbles, japonicas, and pearls; and though various nations have in some way recognised a certain royal preeminence in this hue; even the barbaric, grand old kings of Pegu placing the title ‘Lord of the White Elephants’ above all their other magniloquent ascriptions of dominion; and the modern kings of Siam unfurling the same snow-white quadruped in the royal standard; and the Hanoverian flag bearing the one figure of a snow-white charger; and the great Austrian Empire, Caesarian, heir to overlording Rome, having for the imperial colour the same imperial hue; and though this pre-eminence in it applies to the human race itself, giving the white man ideal mastership over every dusky tribe; and though, besides, all this, whiteness has been even made significant of gladness, for among the Romans a white stone marked a joyful day; and though in other mortal sympathies and symbolizings this same hue is made the emblem of many touching, noble things—the innocence of brides, the benignity of age; though among the Red Men of America the giving of the white belt of wampum was the deepest pledge of honour; though in many climes, whiteness typifies the majesty of Justice in the ermine of the Judge, and contributes to the daily state of kings and queens drawn by milk-white steeds; though even in the higher mysteries of the most august religions it has been made the symbol of the divine spotlessness and power; by the Persian fire worshippers, the white forked flame being held the holiest on the altar; and in the Greek mythologies, Great Jove himself being made incarnate in a snow-white bull; and though to the noble Iroquois, the midwinter sacrifice of the sacred White Dog was by far the holiest festival of their theology, that spotless, faithful creature being held the purest envoy they could send to the Great Spirit with the annual tidings of their own fidelity; and though directly from the Latin word for white, all Christian priests derive the name of one part of their sacred vesture, the alb or tunic, worn beneath the cassock; and though among the holy pomps of the Romish faith, white is specially employed in the celebration of the Passion of our Lord; though in the Vision of St. John, white robes are given to the redeemed, and the four-and-twenty elders stand clothed in white before the great-white throne, and the Holy One that sitteth there white like wool; yet for all these accumulated associations, with whatever is sweet, and honourable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood."

Thank you, Moby Dick. (Compensating for something, Melville?) Not to mention the… odd commentary on race throughout that passage.


Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Autumn of the Patriarch. I distinctly remember that when we were assigned it as summer reading between 11th and 12th grade, I got to page 40 and counted six periods — that is, six sentences covered 40 pages. I threw the book across the room and told the teacher I refused to read it.

(She told me I was the only one in a class of 30 who had even tried.)

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    @LorenIpsum Literature defined alternate: book of words, read by few (if any), thrown across room (or out window) by most. :)
    – raddevus
    Nov 23 '15 at 18:25

Check xckd.com

This is a webcomic from xkcd.com that might approach what you're looking for...


It's not humorous, but look into Immanuel Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. I distinctly remember, in at least one English edit I read for college ethics, a single sentence which went on for a page and a half. Even without that, sentences within paragraphs easily exceed your 5-6 line requirement throughout much of the work. Kant's writing style is so convoluted that German students of ethics commonly read Kant's work in English instead of the original German, because the English translation is easier to comprehend.


Humorous single paragraph sentence? The original Winnie the Pooh provides such a thing here. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples as well, but this is the only one that presented itself to me.


It's not literature, but if you get into legal writing, you'll find a lot of insanely long and grammatically convoluted sentences that you'll probably have to read at least five times to understand. This is especially the case for statutory codes.

Here's an example from the Model Penal Code, a statutory code compiled by American legal experts that has no legal force at all but that works as a kind of "suggestion" for state penal codes:

"(2) Limitations on Justifying Necessity for Use of Force. (a) The use of force is not justifiable under this Section: (i) to resist an arrest which the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, although the arrest is unlawful; or (ii) to resist force used by the occupier or possessor of property or by another person on his behalf, where the actor knows that the person using the force is doing so under a claim of right to protect the property, except that this limitation shall not apply if: (1) the actor is a public officer acting in the performance of his duties or a person lawfully assisting him therein or a person making or assisting in a lawful arrest; or (2) the actor has been unlawfully dispossessed of the property and is making a re-entry or recaption justified by Section 3.06; or (3) the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily harm."

Notice that this entire mess is one sentence and that it is extraordinarily difficult to follow because it also contains a series of exceptions to the general rule. The MPC is full of stuff like this. In fact, some of the sentences in the MPC contain a rule, an exception to the rule, and an exception to the exception. Statute-writing is pretty difficult because every single word matters, but the MPC is just badly written.


You want the Bulwer-Lytton contest, an annual event recognizing the worst possible first sentence for a novel. The contest was organized in tribute to Edward Bulwer-Lytton's infamously long-winded and awkward opening sentence for his book Paul Clifford:

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.

Here are a couple of finalist from 2015:

Portly, abrupt Bart Simeon plodded through the citadel with a bearing of tension and anger that was like a tinderbox lying by a roadside waiting for a careless motorist to toss his or her cigarette butt out the window, most likely the passenger if the container lay on the right side of the road, or perhaps the driver with a brusque flick to the left, unless of course if they were in England, in which case it would be the opposite. - Anthony Hahn

I knew that dame was damaged goods when she first sauntered in, and I don't mean lightly scratched and dented goods that a reputable merchant like Home Depot might offer in a clearly marked end display sale; no, she was more like the kind of flashy trashy plastic knockoff that always carries a child-choking hazard that no self-respecting 11-year-old Chinese sweat shop kids would ever call theirs. — Tom Billing

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