Reading Conrad’s Nostromo I came across a sentence I thought to be Latinized and formal. Then I realized it was a brilliant way to combine clarity with economy.
From the start of Chapter Three:
“When General Barrios stopped to address Mrs. Gould, Antonia raised negligently her hand holding an open fan, as if to shade from the sun her head, wrapped in a light lace shawl.”
My first thought was to ask why Conrad didn’t write “to shade her head from the sun,” then realized that the sun would have been wrapped in a shawl. Another sentence would have been needed to mention the shawl.
Perhaps it’s not brilliant, but yours truly learned something by reading it.