Monday, 13 June 2011

The Importance of Being Referential

True Names takes a notable line and makes it their topic sentence. To anyone familiar with the referenced text, it's a synopsis of parts of the story to come and also the theme and the genre. It's an easter egg. It made me giggle softly in a public place, startling the man sitting across from me. I read the sentence twice, just to revel in it.

What, you might ask, is this paragon of sentences?

"All across Beebeself, it was a truth universally acknowledged that a singleton daemon in possession of sufficiently massive computation rights must be in want of a spawning filter."

To be perfectly honest, I also read it twice to be sure I was parsing it correctly.

The source material that this sentence references is the first line of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice; "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

This is a case where building on a widely culturally recognizable landmark, such as one of the most famous opening lines in the English language, adds to a text rather than subtracting or distracting. It provides context: the rest of the world of True Names is fascinatingly alien, but drawing this connection to a staple of English romantic literature makes it relatable, gives us a frame of reference for the reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment