Yet, as an adult, I have come to demand of any really “great” book a self-consciousness about the tenuous nature of representations of reality, a critical contextualization of florid detail, and a self-awareness of the role of ideology in our lives.

How would you break down the sentence and get the main idea? I don't understand the anything after Yet, as an adult,.

Source: https://www.ets.org/s/gre/accessible/gre_practice_questions_verbal_explanations_18_point.pdf Page 40

  • In the version I found, the passage is "... and a self-awareness of the irony of ideology in [all of] our lives, and a verbal vigilance for justice, across a continuum, poetical to practical." I have no idea what it means. Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 10:42
  • Would Literature SE be a better place to ask? Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 10:52
  • It is pretentious literary waffle that tries to elaborate on something like the idea that fiction should be related to reality by considering the parallels between them, by using relevant detail, and by knowing how people think.
    – Anton
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 11:02
  • @WeatherVane I don't think so. Writing suggestions are outside the scope of Lit SE. Writing SE maybe.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 21:32
  • This is a GRE verbal question. See page 40: <ets.org/s/gre/accessible/…>
    – Budu Gulo
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 1:12

2 Answers 2

Yet, (conjunction) 
as an adult, (parenthetical phrase)
I have come (subject/verb)
  to demand (prepositional phrase modifying "come")
    of any really “great” book (prepositional phrase modifying "demand")
    a self-consciousness (object of "demand")
      about the tenuous nature (prepositional phrase modifying "self-consciousness")
        of representations (prepositional phrase modifying "nature")
          of reality, (prepositional phrase modifying "reality")
    a critical contextualization (another object of "demand")
      of florid detail, (prepositional phrase modifying "conceptualization")
    and a self-awareness (yet another object of "demand")
      of the role (prepositional phrase modifying "self-awareness")
        of ideology (prepositional phrase modifying "role")
        in our lives. (prepositional phrase modifying "role")

A paraphrase in plainer language could be: "I think a great book should be careful. All representations of reality are fragile, and the reader should get some sense of that. Detailed description should come with some link to the bigger picture. A book should be aware of how we are all guided by shared ideas we rarely question."

Unlike some of the other commenters, I don't think it's meaningless, though it is presented in dense language that leans a little hard on Latinate jargon. Each of the clauses refers to some existing idea in cultural criticism and it may be unfamiliarity with those arguments that makes it a bit impenetrable.

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