Wednesday, March 11, 2009
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.”
“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.
Theroux’s Darconville’s Cat. The words I learnt from it cover 4 columns of A4.
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.
No, I haven’t read it. Maybe someday. I really shouldn’t be put off by B. R. Myers.
That’s a joke, right?
"Under Western Eyes” by Joseph Conrad
Probably The Book of the New Sun. Gene Wolfe is a strange author.
In addition to his impressive vocabulary, he is a stylistic chameleon. Not everyone catches this.
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?)