Literary descriptions

This post is about descriptions, literary descriptions in particular. I’ve chosen two examples, one is a painting description from Tracy Chevaliers’ novel The Girl with a pearl earring, while the other describes a room, Maudie’s room, from The Diaries of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing. I hope you enjoy them.

From Chevaliers’s The Girl with a Pearl Earring, describing a painting

A woman stood in front of a table, turned towards a mirror on the wall so that she was in profile. She wore a mantle of rich yellow satin trimmed with white ermine, and a fashionable five-pointed red ribbon in her hair. A window lit her from the left, falling across her face and tracing the delicate curve of her forehead and nose. She was tying a string of pearls around her neck, holding the ribbons up, her hands suspended in the air. Entranced with herself in the mirror, she did not seem to be aware that anyone was looking at her. Behind her on a bright white wall was an old map, in the dark foreground the table with the letter on it, the powder-brush and the other things I had dusted around. (p. 36).

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If you are curious about the painting, visit Vermeer’s website

 The Diaries of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing

We walked along it to the ‘kitchen’. I have never seen anything like it outside our Distress File, condemned houses and that sort Of things. It was an extension of the passage , with an old gas cooker, greasy and black, and old white china sink, cracked and yellow with grease, a cold-water tap wrapped around with old rags and dripping steadily.  A rather nice old wood table that had crockery standing on it, all ‘washed’ but grimy. The walls stained and damp. The whole place smelled, it smelled awful… She did not look at me while she set down bread , biscuits and cat food.  The clean lively colours of the grocery packages and the tins in that awful place. She was ashamed, but wasn’t going to apologize. She said in an offhand but appealing way , ‘You go into my room, and find yourself a seat’. (p. 12)

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If you are interested in this author, please check her site.

 

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