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Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
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cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

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cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

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cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

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cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

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The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

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Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

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Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

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William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

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William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vocab Primer

Posted by Jonathan Goodwin on 03/11/09 at 01:24 PM

I asked a related question here a couple of weeks ago, but I was curious about what single work of fiction has taught you the most new words. (In English, I mean, and read during your maturity, if you want to be cute.)

I first read Blood Meridian fairly recently, but it’s clearly a contender. And one filled with dense, considered words too, like “anareta.”


Comments

“Asininity" is studded with obscure words and coinages, often of scientific origin. In the first four pages, for example, we see patulous, macrostomia, podex, megaprosopous, and grume (the last of these being, in my opinion a usable and useful word). In these few pages we also see the coinage insatispassional, the misspelling supererrogatory, many rare but easy-to-understand words such as megacephalic, and the idiosyncratic use of the word verisimilitude to mean simply “right” or “OK”.

Not a great book, but a fascinating one. The life and death of a schizophrenic, crank, Presidential candidate.

By John Emerson on 03/11/09 at 04:00 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Theroux’s Darconville’s Cat. The words I learnt from it cover 4 columns of A4.

By Conrad on 03/11/09 at 04:24 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I haven’t read it, Conrad, but your post on it intrigued me mightily. I’m guessing you haven’t read Blood Meridian? In several ways, you are its ideal reader.

By Jonathan Goodwin on 03/11/09 at 04:45 PM | Permanent link to this comment

No, I haven’t read it. Maybe someday. I really shouldn’t be put off by B. R. Myers.

By Conrad on 03/12/09 at 05:23 AM | Permanent link to this comment

That’s a joke, right?

By Jonathan Goodwin on 03/12/09 at 09:28 AM | Permanent link to this comment

"Under Western Eyes” by Joseph Conrad

By on 03/15/09 at 01:40 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Probably The Book of the New Sun.  Gene Wolfe is a strange author.

By on 03/25/09 at 08:59 PM | Permanent link to this comment

In addition to his impressive vocabulary, he is a stylistic chameleon. Not everyone catches this.

By Jonathan Goodwin on 03/25/09 at 10:16 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Yes, reading the massive Sun series I was amazed at how much he managed to change the tone of his writing between the “Books.” Of course I then acquired his books of short stories and standalone novels, and discovered that no two of his books are very similar.  He’s one of my favorite authors now, and I’d stack him up against many literary writers who are currently popular.

Someone mentioned DFW’s use of “imperfect narrators” in Infinite Jest; when I read it, I thought that he probably should have read Peace before he tried it.  (Heresy?)

By on 03/26/09 at 12:17 AM | Permanent link to this comment

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