Fish On Mrs. Dalloway
"Here, for example, is Mrs. Dalloway, walking toward Bond Street in London and thinking about her inevitable demise:
Did it matter then, she asked herself, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? but that somehow in the streets of London, on the ebb and flow of things, here, there, she survived, Peter survived, lived in each other, she being part, she was positive, of the trees at home; of the house there, ugly, rambling all to bits and pieces as it was; part of people she had never met; being laid out like a mist between the people she knew best, who lifted her on their branches as she had seen the trees lift the mist, but it spread ever so far, her life, herself.
Mrs. Dalloway 1925, Virginia Woolf
Is this a sentence? It doesn't have a beginning, middle, or end, and as you read it you can't chart its progress toward a designed close. Who says 'she was positive'? Is it Woolf, standing outside her character and pronouncing authoritatively on Mrs. Dalloway's inner state? The questions are unanswerable, for as Erich Auerbach observes (Mimesis, 1946), 'we are given not merely one person whose consciousness ... is rendered, but many persons, with frequent'—and, I would add, unannounced—'shifts from one to the other.' For a second, when 'Did it matter then" is followed by "she asked herself,' we seem to be in the company of a conventional narrator-novelist who reports the speech of her character. But then 'did it matter' is repeated, and it is clear that what we're hearing is a musing. The perspective now ruling is an interior one; even though the third-person pronoun 'she' carries the train of thought along, we sense that this is merely her form of self-reference. A sequence like 'she survived, Peter survived' shows how it is done. 'She survived' might be spoken by a narrator, but 'Peter survived' is obviously uttered by someone who shares an intimacy with him; we cannot believe that the observation is made at a distance, by a third person, but then again, 'lived in each other' seems to belong at once to Mrs. Dalloway and to her creator. As the sentence continues, Mrs. Dalloway shares an intimacy not only with Peter but with everything—a house, trees, people, mist, branches—all of which ebb and flow with her and through her. Everything enters her, and she enters everything. Near its end the sentence names the action it is imitating; it spreads; she spreads, 'ever so far, her life herself.' Formally, the sentence is fragmentary; no, it is fragments, held together barely by a soft 'but,' which is more like an 'and,' many participles, many ofs, all tumbling forward, all jumbled up, yet unified somehow by her consciousness, streaming, variegated, and always the same."
How To Write A Sentence 2011, Stanley Fish