All terms

What is parataxis?

Piling independent clauses on top of one another.

The Art of Independent Clauses: Understanding Parataxis

Parataxis is a writing technique that involves piling independent clauses on top of one another without using conjunctions or other coordinating devices to link them. This creates a sense of immediacy and urgency in the narrative, as well as an impression of the events unfolding in real time. Parataxis is often used in creative writing to convey a sense of chaos or urgency, as well as to create a more dynamic narrative flow.

Examples of paratactic writing can be found in works such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the poetry of Walt Whitman. However, it can also be used in academic or technical writing to convey complex ideas succinctly and effectively. When used correctly, parataxis can lend a sense of pace and momentum to a piece of writing, helping to engage the reader and keep them invested in the story or argument at hand.

However, it is important to note that parataxis can be tricky to execute effectively. Too much paratactic writing can become overwhelming or confusing to the reader, while inadequate use of it can result in disjointed or stilted prose. It takes practice and skill to master the art of independent clauses and to use them to create compelling and effective writing.

From Walt Whitman to F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Look at Parataxis in Literature

Parataxis is a writing technique that layers independent clauses to create a sense of immediacy and momentum. Check out the following examples for a closer look at how this technique works in literature.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

In his epic poem Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman uses parataxis to convey a sense of boundless freedom and possibility, as in the following lines: 'Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son, / Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding, / No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them.'

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald employs parataxis in The Great Gatsby to create a feeling of unease and moral ambiguity, as in this passage: 'The bored haughty face that she turned to the world concealed something—most affectations conceal something eventually, even though they don't in the beginning—and one day I found what it was.'