The stripped down version and others

I’ll keep this short. It’s just to provide my revised version of the exercise in the last posting. First, though, an apology for not making the ‘rules’ entirely clear (unforgivable in a piece about clarity in writing). It was purely a cutting exercise, not improving or paraphrasing or doing anything else to make it much more acceptable than the ugly thing it was. In other words, the idea was simply to get rid of any words or expressions that added nothing to the meaning without losing ANY of the information of the original.

So, with the deletions in bold …

The general consensus of opinion is that the complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions is absolutely essential to the continued survival of our species. Martyn Gillespie, who is the chief protagonist of the carbon trading lobby, has proposed a temporary reprieve by adopting a policy which may possibly suggest that compromise is a(n) viable option. His group is small in size but, at this moment in time, it is gaining in credibility. His opponents would do well to recognize its potential for growth and adapt their future plans in order to give advance warning of the complete monopoly Gillespie is beginning to construct. Nothing short of total unanimity will do. Researchers who care about the environment around them must spell out in detail the disastrous consequences that could arise if Gillespie were to prevail.

In her comment, Sara offered a passage from Thomas Hardy to ‘have a go at’.  Not surprisingly, it’s hard. In fact, I think almost any deletions would spoil its rhythms and detract from the force of the argument. The best I could do would be to cut one adjective. Try it.

“He did sometimes think he had been ill-used by fortune, so far as to say that to be born is a palpable dilemma, and that instead of men aiming to advance in life with glory they should calculate how to retreat out of it without shame. But that he and his had been sarcastically and pitilessly handled in having such irons thrust into their souls he did not maintain long. It is usually so, except with the sternest of men. Human beings, in their generous endeavour to construct a hypothesis that shall not degrade a First Cause, have always hesitated to conceive a dominant power of lower moral quality than their own; and, even while they sit down and weep by the waters of Babylon, invent excuses for the oppression which prompts their tears.” (The Return of the Native)

It’s the difference between literature and … well, less careful writing. But literature doesn’t have to be poncy. Here’s another bit of Hardy, from Jude the Obscure, one that stresses Jude’s feelings of unworthiness, and it’s very simply written.

“In the dusk of that evening Jude walked away from his old aunt’s as if to go home. But as soon as he reached the open down he struck out upon it till he came to a large round pond. The frost continued, though it was not particularly sharp, and the larger stars overhead came out slow and flickering. Jude put one foot on the edge of the ice, and then the other: it cracked under his weight; but this did not deter him. He ploughed his way inward to the centre, the ice making sharp noises as he went. When just about the middle he looked around him and gave a jump. The cracking repeated itself; but he did not go down. He jumped again, but the cracking had ceased. Jude went back to the edge and stepped upon the ground.

It was curious, he thought. What was he reserved for? He supposed he was not a sufficiently dignified person for suicide.”

I have to confess I think it’s funny that poor old Jude doesn’t even think he’s important enough to commit suicide..

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