To be famously wordy is sometimes a good thing.
In general, it is ill-advised to use run-on sentences. However, several famous writers, in deliberate defiance of literary convention, penned memorable run-ons in an effort to cultivate a particular experience for the reader. In fact, one of the most famous run on sentences in literature comes from the opening of A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
This passage is an example of how a run-on sentence becomes a device upon which an author, in this case Dickens, is able to set a stage: this was a time when all things were in transition.
Too many run-on sentences can be overwhelming, but a timely sentence of extended length used for dramatic intention can be a highly effective tool. Continue reading for some of our favorite run-on sentences.