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Need help : How to read passages of this type.

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Need help : How to read passages of this type. [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2012, 03:22
GMAT Experts,

I have solved Gmat club verbal test, then I was reviewing it. I have seen that I have big trouble understanding the passage. Specailly look at the first sentence it is so long and convuted. Do you guys have any recommendations on how to read this type of text effectively. Specially if there are long sentences such as first sentence of this passage.

A recent cultural history of the art and architecture of the European Baroque Period, which spanned roughly the entire seventeenth century, uses well-known works to sketch a fresh and surprising perspective on the impact of these works on the imaginations of their original viewers. The author, an emeritus professor at an Ohio university, does not bother to challenge the customary list of Baroque characteristics–opulence, grandeur, movement, large scale, emotion, bold colors, gold–but students of art history, far from entertaining suspicions of insufficient academic rigor due to this oversight, will ultimately find themselves grateful to be left with this piece of familiar ground.

Although the first chapter is spent detailing the debt owed by Baroque style to the theology of the Roman Catholic Church, discussion of the devotional uses of religious pieces thereafter is strictly limited. The prime goal of the following chapters is to define Baroque art’s function within the power structure of the sixteenth century Church in such a way as to make religious devotion beside the point. More specifically, the author is concerned with the role art played in re-centralizing the Church’s power in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, as well as with the significance of the Council of Trent, during which, as part of a cohesive opposition to groups of believers who had broken away, the practice of using art objects as aids to religious devotion was encouraged and codified.

From the author’s perspective, then, the Church’s advocacy of grand and ornate pieces of religious art served the very practical purpose of reminding the faithful that real power was to be found within the Church. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, for example, with its almost unimaginatively lofty ceilings, marble floors, and special chapels, solidified the Church’s power by inspiring the viewer’s awe. Likewise, paintings and sculptures produced by most of the period’s Church-sponsored artists depicted human figures, most often saints or martyrs, with a startling realism intended to emphasize presence and immediacy.
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Re: Need help : How to read passages of this type. [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2015, 01:05
Hello GMAT Experts,

I too faced the similar issue. I came across this passage in one of GMAT club verbal test and could not understand it very well due to its lengthy sentence structure. I do understand one way to handle this is to break it up but still it takes me some time to comprehend it well and this may impact performance on real test environment. Also, i am still struggling to understand exact meaning of "but students of art history, far from entertaining suspicions of insufficient academic rigor due to this oversight, will ultimately find themselves grateful to be left with this piece of familiar ground.".. But is contrast marker here okay..so i assume students have contrasting opinion as compare to Author?? But what does author saying in first paragraph. Let me put forward my understanding.. "Author does not bother to challenge.." ---> Author does not want to challenge conventional characteristics of the customary list of Baroque .. correct? But still i do not get the meaning of sentence (already put in quotation mark above) mentioned nearby to students..Please help..

Thanks
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Re: Need help : How to read passages of this type. [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2015, 18:01
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With a tough sentence, it can help to start with the sentence core, just as we might if we were trying to solve an SC problem. Taking away all the modifiers, here's what's left:

A history uses works to sketch a perspective.

Now that's so far reduced as to be almost meaningless, but it's a great place from which to start analyzing the sentence. "A history" (i.e. a historical study) is using certain works to provide us with some perspective. Let's add a few more words in:

A recent cultural history uses well-known works to sketch a fresh perspective on the impact of these works on the imaginations of their original viewers.

Okay, so this recent history is looking at well-known works (i.e. famous art) to show us something new about how these works affected their original viewers. What original viewers? Apparently, people in the European Baroque Period in the 17th century. Basically, then, we're looking in a new way at how audiences in the 17th c. viewed major works of art.

We can take a similar approach with the rest of the passage. We don't have to explicitly identify the core of each sentence (I'd only do that as an exercise), but we can cut out a lot of extraneous detail. Does it matter that the author is from Ohio? Do we need to memorize the list of Baroque characteristics? No. Here's what I get out of the rest of p1:

The author goes along with traditional thinking about the elements that make up Baroque art. Readers shouldn't have a problem with this, though, since it's nice to have something familiar when dealing with a new perspective.

Let me know if this helps.
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Re: Need help : How to read passages of this type.   [#permalink] 03 Jan 2015, 18:01
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Need help : How to read passages of this type.

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