🇺🇸 Learn English the Hard Way with “The Genius and the Goddess”

Chances are you are looking for improving your English language comprehension through reading books.

I know the drill. Take me right to the sentences.

Feel like upping your game and start catching the slightest subtleties of English?

Look no further.

However, there is a catch.


Who is this article intended for?

For English language learners, as they, all too often, tend to skip a lot of subtleties while reading books / reading stories / reading comics / watching movies /watching game movies, thus slowing down and negating their language progress. I

The catch has to do with the “THE HARD WAY” of learning English, right?

I can’t promise improving your English through this article will be easy, but I promise it will be worth it, provided you work through ALL THE SENTENCES down below. And by the way, to make it even more challenging for you, no answers are given and you are to find them on your own. There’s a reason this article is called “Learn English the Hard Way”, don’t you think?

Still no clue what I’m supposed to do…

If you’re still not really sure what’s going on here, I highly recommend you read the description of “Learn English the Hard Way” challenge.

russia-flag Для чего эта статья и что нужно здесь делать?

По своему опыту могу сказать, что когда в освоении английского приходишь на всё готовенькое, то интеллектуально расслабляешься и не особо вникаешь в детали и тонкости языка.

А вот когда, мы “пропускаем язык через себя”…

  1. внимательное чтение книг, просмотр фильмов, т.д… не знаем, что то или то означает, почему так написано, вообще не догоняем, что происходит, значит отмечаем находку
  2. анализ “любопытных” предложений, конструкций, выражений (грамматика и прагматика наши лучшие друзья)
  3. прогонка проработанного материала через правое полушарие
  4. задействование “освоенных” предложений, конструкций, выражений на письме, в устной речи (идеально, с носителями языка)
    …то результаты будут совершенно иными, нежели чем “со всем готовеньким”.

А именно, выработка силы воли, языковой интуиции, внимательности, любопытства и реальное улучшение навыка английского языка.

Ниже представлены предложения, которые заинтриговали меня при прочтении книги / прочтении рассказа / прочтении комикса / просмотре фильма / просмотре игрофильма. То есть, я сделал первый пункт из четырех выше и поделился результатами с Вами. За Вами остаются остальные три.


If you feel like up to the challenge, then below is my list of the cherry-picked sentences with curious grammar and vocabulary findings from the book “The Genius and the Goddess”.

Study hard!

“So you’re going to set the record straight?” I presumed. “For the public? Heaven forbid.

“For all practical amorous purposes you were the real thing, the genuine Greek god.” Rivers made a wry face.

“I may have looked the part,” he said. “But if you think I could act it…”

‘You fool.’ he yelled. ‘You…you elephant.’

“‘Elephants,’ said the poetess didactically, ‘always look where they’re going.’

“How the devil did he get out of his crib?” For all answer there was a louder sob.

“… a mouth like an overripe strawberry and that perfume, that whore-house smell of her!”

With behavior, I suppose, to match?

He leaned over and touched the back of a battered copy of The Brothers Karamazov.

“It makes so little sense that it’s almost real. Which is more than can be said for any of the academic kinds of fiction”

“The Life of Henry Maartens” I read out with no more interest than one accords to a household word.

the sick genius battling indomitably against enormous odds

A synthesis, a third position subtending the other two.

In my mind’s eye Baalbek gave place to the campus of Berkeley

Little Johnny took first, second and third place

sweating his way through college and post-graduate school with no spare time for anything more subtle than football or the Glee Club

Rivers was silent, then answered with another question.

And when I was around forty, she’d arrange a marriage for me with some wonderful Lutheran girl who would love her like her own mother. But for the grace of God, there went John Rivers—down the drain. But the grace of God was forthcoming—with a vengeance, as it turned out.

I remember standing there in a cold sweat, trying to screw up my courage to ring the bell.

How long would it take a man like Henry Maartens to see through a man like me? A week? A day? More likely an hour!

In the austerely cultured atmosphere of their home I should reveal myself for what I was—shy, stupid, hopelessly provincial.

Beulah was not merely a treasure; she was, as I soon discovered, well along the road to sainthood.

But what I actually walked into was something which, if I had seen it fifteen years later, I might have mistaken for a parody, in the minor key, of the Marx Brothers.

The recumbent poetess blocked my path.

A whole Grand Central Station lay in ruins, reduced to its component blocks.

I had a brain wave. ‘What about tomb?’

But of course, of course! What a fool she had been!

the next he was as good as new and talking nineteen to the dozen about quantum mechanics.

And never a day’s illness—until, bang, comes a coronary, or whoosh go the kidneys!

Even the great man emerged for a moment from Cloud Cuckoo Land to cast a vote in favor of my staying on. That clinched it.

and that’s expressible in a four-letter word, so shocking that even the Marquis de Sade was chary of using it

“Give Mrs. Rivers a big kiss.” I obeyed, but with what horrified reluctance!

What hypocrisy, what a pack of lies!

and the fact that I had lapsed into a wholesome paganism

but in a latent state, in a condition of indeterminacy.

We had stepped, so it seemed, into the Ushers’ family vault.

When you’ve had enough of sitting in the dust,’ I said ironically, ‘maybe we can go on.’

It took me the best part of half an hour to get her on her feet again and in her right mind.

I was afraid she’d have nightmares. Not at all. She slept like a top

The thought of death and corruption which she had savored, the previous night, for the sake of its own intrinsic bitterness, was now a mere condiment, a spice to heighten the taste of life

and was still being sporadically warbled while the slaughter was going on in Korea.

Or is it something to deepen one’s despair about the human race? I really don’t know—do you?

She laughed, and it was a laugh not so much of amusement as of relief.

Or perhaps it would be truer to say that it sometimes happens to me.

teaching the youngsters the tricks of his trade, dropping pearls of wisdom

Honest-to-God hands that were good with screwdrivers; hands that could fix things when they went wrong

About the three young men who were in love with her—each one richer and, if possible, stupider than the last.

The trousseau was bought, the wedding presents had begun to arrive.

At nineteen she must have been Hebe and the three Graces and all the nymphs of Diana rolled into one.

it never entered his head that it might perhaps be a good thing to draw the girl out.

After that it became only too evident that her engagement to poor dear Randolph had been a mistake

But what a hue and cry when she announced her intention of becoming Mrs. Henry Maartens!

To this inconceivably ridiculous question the answer was a peal of laughter

An idiot where human relations were concerned, a prize ass in all the practical affairs of life

I was a prig who secretly envied the people he disapproved

It was passion, but it was also chastity; and both at white heat.

And all is dross that is not Helena

everything was more significant. Significant, you may ask, of what?

Come to see if you could catch Santa Claus red-handed—was that it?

Dogs are so dumb they can’t say anything but bow-wow.

“And to think,” said Rivers, “to think that once we were all like that.”

The day after Katy left, she looked and smelt like the Whore of Babylon

Judge not that ye be not judged. But the nature of language is such that we can’t help judging.

the new literature made it absolutely necessary for the poor child to smear her mouth with lipstick and drench her combinations with synthetic violet. And worse was to follow.

If she was going to love anybody—and the new physiological facts inclined her to love, the new vocabulary imposed love upon her as a categorical imperative—then I was the man

And then, of course, there were those love poems which she insisted, in the teeth of her own and my embarrassment, on showing me

Ruth didn’t seem to feel the need of acting her new part; it was enough merely to look it

In that quarter at least I was given a respite. But meanwhile my Nobel Prize winner was getting into trouble.

You’ve been given the inestimable opportunity of some day becoming a reasonably civilized young woman

Broken reeds can never hold their liquor like gentlemen. Henry could get gloriously tipsy on tea and conversation.

and what was bound to happen duly happened.

thought my troubles were over, all the more so as the news from Chicago seemed to indicate that Katy would soon be home again.

Katy had called in another doctor—a young man just out of Johns Hopkins, brilliant, indefatigable, up to all the latest tricks

but his unsmiling face (he could never conceal what he really felt) belied his words.

That malignant malingerer!

In his joy, Henry became, for the first time since I had known him, almost a normal father.

Her teacher had raised objections to rouge and perfume in class and, when persuasion proved unavailing, the principal had categorically forbidden them.

‘Good night,’ I added as I disengaged my hand, ‘sleep tight, mind the fleas don’t bite.’

I ordered her back to bed and told her that, if she was a very good girl, I might relent.

When she was absent, he was like a cow deprived of grass, like a man with jaundice struggling to exist without a liver.

Horror gave place in my mind to indignation.

Katy was being unfaithful to him with the young squirt from Johns Hopkins.

All children bored him. So did the overwhelming majority of adults. How could it be otherwise?

And humanity was something in which poor Henry was incapable, congenitally, of taking an interest.

But then I noticed that the thing he had taken out of the recesses of the strongbox was a revolver; my heart missed a beat.

bracing myself to knock him out, if necessary, with a left to the jaw, or a short sharp jab in the solar plexus

This time yearning rhymed with spurning.

it was just like the raising of Lazarus. Down to the doors of death and then, whoosh!

Three days later he was eating fried chicken and talking his head off.

It was the doctor who finally persuaded her. ‘I don’t want to be an alarmist,’ he said over the phone that evening, ‘but…’ That did it. ‘I’ll be home by tomorrow night,’ she said

from the little domestic lares and penates to the high Olympians.

where a pupil had cheated his master and a wife her husband;

We were acting the lie already—and was I bad at it!

Had they taken his temperature? Katy nodded; they had, and it was definitely lower.

Didn’t I tell you so!’ the old woman said to me triumphantly.

And yet a third of a loaf is better than no bread

In the darkness, in the perfumed field of her womanhood, I tried to tell her all the things I had been unable to tell her that morning

Verbalized and discussed, it becomes an ethical problem, a casus belli, the source of a neurosis.

If Katy had talked, where, I ask you, should we have been? In a labyrinth of intercommunicating guilts and anguishes.

Goddesses are all of one piece. There’s no internal conflict in them

Never a moment of real silence

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, not in the cookbook.

Without her, he would have gone mad, broken down, fizzled out.

You’re too noble to be a party to a deception!

And now here I have to listen to you—talking the most nauseous kind of Sunday School twaddle, daring to tell me—me!

you cannot live a lie—like George Washington and the cherry tree.

Katy was always the all-seeing mother;

The hatred was unrelenting

‘Leave her alone’ was Katy’s advice. ‘Let her stew in her own juice, until she gets sick of it.’

No work-shy poetesses mooning around and getting in the way

I’ve got a splitting headache

All agog to dash through thick and thin

She suspected the worst of us so that she might be justified in feeling the worst

The goddess, after all, was vulnerable…. I had scored my point

the technique of being gaily tactless, of making enormous bloomers in all innocence and simplicity

Ruth was in the position, and might even now be in the mood, to pull down the whole temple of their lives for the sake of spiting her mother.

She was pleased, but did her best not to show it.

And now you want to go.” He got up, took my arm and walked me out into the hall

Wow, it seems you’ve made it to the end of this new-vocabulary-grammar-intensive article… But did you actually work through all the findings?  No shirking? Sweet! That’s what I call being persistent at mastering English!


russia-flag Вы дочитали и проработали статью до конца? Так держать!

Если Вы дочитали до конца эту статью, то я уверен, что Вы узнали много нового про английский язык (при условии, что Вы действительно проработали предложения выше).

Проработать так много материала это совсем не шутки, а вполне серьёзный подход к делу.

Теперь же дело за малым: эффективно всё перенести в речевой актив и начать всласть применять новые знания на практике (пункт 3 и 4, соответсвенно).

Спасибо за то, что уделили время.

Удачи в Вашем языковом путешествии!


I am crazy enough to do the whole nine-yards over again. Please bring me to the beginning of the sentences. Yeah!

Did you know that you are more than encouraged to go ahead and tell me in the comments section below how the whole process went?

With that, thanks for taking your time accepting the challenge, reading and working through the article.

Until next time!


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