Words I Learned While Reading Gore Vidal
The day after Gore Vidal died I went a little crazy with Gore Vidal quotes; but they were just sitting there, in the Vidal books I owned, marked and underlined, ready to be disseminated.
I also came across about two dozen words that I didn't know when I first read the book. Back then, being the good student, I looked them up and wrote the definition in the margins. These are just sitting there, too. Here's a sampling:
- l'espirit de l'escalier: the wit of the staircase; any witticism or cleverness that comes too late, as on the staircase away from the debate
- ex cathedra: with the authority derived from one's office or position: esp. of the pope's infallibility as defined in Roman Catholic doctrine
- collyrium: an eye lotion
- bibulous: fond of alcoholic beverages; highly absorbent
- recondite: hidden from sight; deep
- vatic: prophetic; oracular
- velleities: inclinations; slight wishes or tendencies; the lowest degree of volition
- quotidian: occurring every day
- caveat lector: let the reader beware
- manqué: short of or frustrated in the fulfillment of one's aspirations or talents — used postpositively
- faute de mieux: for lack of something better or more desirable
- plangent: having a loud reverberating sound; having an expressive and especially plaintive quality
Of these, only 'quotidian' became part of my regular writing vocabulary. Shame. I could've used l'espirit de l'escalier, since, like most (but unlike Vidal, one imagines), it's generally the only wit I know. It might even make a good tagline for this site. Or I could always go with: ErikLundegaard.com: Faute de mieux. Or: Caveat lector. Or: Movie critic manqué.
Comment posted on Sun. Aug 05, 2012 at 08:26 AM
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