Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The odour of joss-sticks

In the light of recent discussion on this site about literary style and the relative unimportance of plot in fictional works (see the posts 'Rue de la Paix', 'Chilly, ain't it?' and comments), it is worth quoting the rather beautiful and deeply conservative epigraph which Dorothy Sayers chose for her Clouds of witness (1926):

The inimitable stories of Tong-king never have any real ending, and this one, being in his most elevated style, has even less end than most of them. But the whole narrative is permeated with the odour of joss-sticks and honourable high-mindedness, and the two characters are both of noble birth.

-- The Wallet of Kai-Lung