Thursday, November 01, 2007

Delicious Words

In "You've Got Mail" there's a really cute line where Kathleen Kelly describes why she likes reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. "I get lost in the language, words like 'Thither. Mischance. Felicity...'"

I'm in the process of reading the unabridged The Count of Monte Cristo and am finding it simply fantastic and indulging. It is so beatifully written and has such a descriptive vocabulary. I'm currently on page 263, which is only 17% through its over 1400 pages, but so far I've made a list of words that have made me smile as I came accross them--it's the concept of being able to use one perfectly appropriate word instead of using a complicating and less-descriptive combination of 2 or more words. Whats even more is that the author (Alexandre Dumas) uses these words, which are not obscure or obfuscating, in abstract ways and in exciting conjugations and contexts that provide an even richer meaning to the passage. I don't feel like I need to have a dictionary next to me while I read, and yet I find the writing so beautiful and rich. This is what it's like to read fantastic literature, and this is why it's a classic!

augury: an event that is experienced as indicating important things to come

physiognomy: the face or countenance, esp. when considered as an index to the character

sepulchral: suited to or suggestive of a grave or burial

munificence: liberality in bestowing gifts; extremely liberal and generous of spirit

misanthropy: hatred, dislike, or distrust of humankind

celerity: Swiftness of action or motion; speed

imeptuosity: rash impulsiveness

I'm sure I'll come across more fantastic words like these. I just wish I could keep reading all day!

1 comment:

Becky said...

I read that book about 7 years ago. I really enjoyed it. When my book club last year said they were reading it, I was excited. The week before book club, I went to dig up my copy--only to find that I had read the 400-page ABRIDGED version. Ooops. I found the real thing and I was amazed at how much I had missed from the story--and the deliciousness of the language. You can't do it justice by cutting it down. And no, I didn't read it in time for book club. It took months.