White’s observation leaped to mind when I read this passage from “Inquiring Minds: The Spanish Inquisition Revisited,” an essay by Adam Gopnik in the January 16, 2012, New Yorker (paywall). Gopnik’s subject is contemporary historians with a revisionist perspective on the Inquisition:
The first is a memorable figure by any standard: the elder Netanyahu, Bibi’s now hundred-and-one-year-old father, Benzion, who, over years of research, has established, at least to his own satisfaction, that the idea of a flourishing clandestine community of Iberian Marranos, who paid lip service to Christian rites and rituals while secretly remaining Jews, is a myth, invented by the Inquisition for its own evil ends and taken up, much later, by the Jews, in the hope that it would make their ancestors seem less fearful and more resistant.
That’s 13 commas in a single 89-word sentence.
If I’d been on the copy desk, I’d probably have deleted at least some of those commas (the ones around “much later,” for example) or replaced them with em dashes. Still, one can’t help being impressed. I recommend that you read the sentence aloud, pausing wherever a comma tells you to do so, to understand what Gopnik’s up to.