From a Murakami novel:

Just as he appreciated Sara’s appearance, he also enjoyed the way she dressed.

I am reading an article that criticizes Murakami's style and writing. I am curious, what is awkward about the above sentence?

  • 2
    Why don't you show us what the article said in its criticism, so we can know what it was criticizing?
    – F.E.
    Sep 29, 2014 at 23:39
  • He also admired the way her head was connected to her shoulders.
    – user3847
    Sep 29, 2014 at 23:50
  • 3
    Murakami writes in Japanese. The only thing you can legitimately criticize about the English construction is the translation.
    – Robusto
    Sep 30, 2014 at 0:03
  • 2
    @F.E. I suspect the article merely gave that sentence as an example of awkward writing, and assumed the reader would agree without further elaboration, although it would be nice if the OP would confirm.
    – Barmar
    Sep 30, 2014 at 0:12
  • I would like to know what this magazine is, that criticises Murakami's use of English even though, as Robusto pointed out, he writes in Japanese. Sep 30, 2014 at 6:09

3 Answers 3


Based only on the given translation,

Just as he appreciated Sara’s appearance, he also enjoyed the way she dressed.

Part of someone's appearance is the way they are dressed, so this sentence is lacking in the way of style or information. It's almost a tautology (or needless repetition).

It's a bit like saying, "He found her face beautiful, and he also liked her eyes." The eyes are part of facial beauty. One would assume he liked her eyes unless he stipulated she was beautiful in spite of being cross-eyed.

A "better" sentence would make more sense. Perhaps (marginally, but you'll get the idea):

Just as he appreciated Sara’s appearance, he also enjoyed her charming personality.

  • It isn't really tautological, since appearance pertains to more than just dress. Though it could be argued that the second part is redundant.
    – Fraser Orr
    Sep 30, 2014 at 1:57
  • @FraserOrr - I agree; that's why I said "almost". Sep 30, 2014 at 3:05
  • Given the lack of context provided, it could be that dressed is being used as a verb, and the viewer is enjoying both Sara's appearance and the graceful way she puts her clothes on. It is also possible for an individual to be ugly, but well-dressed. In that sense, the sentence tells us that Sara is a good looking lady who also dresses well. Sep 30, 2014 at 6:11

Just as is ambiguous in a construct like this. It could mean at the same time (as in Just as we sat down to dinner, the phone rang), or it could mean same (as in He paints with oils just as well as with water colors). The latter sense is usually used in conjunctions (as in my example), to avoid the awkward ambiguity.

So the quoted sentence would be clearer if it had been:

He enjoyed the way Sara dressed just as much as he appreciated her appearance.


"enjoyed the way she dressed" - this part sounds not very correct to me, let me explain why. First of all, if he was enjoying the time during which Sara was dressing, that seems a correct description; but if he enjoyed the way Sara had already dressed, then there is definitely an inconsistency in timeline, because the fact of Sara being dressed is the effect in the question and I think it should have been put in perfect tense, namely, "he enjoyed the was she had dressed".

On the other hand, if HE just liked the way Sara usually dressed, more precisely, the style and the cloths that she put on, then the second clause is more or less correct, but in that case it is not in good agreement with the first one, since the latter describes a one-time action, not a general, regularly-happening one.

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