Invented words for emotions you never realised anyone else felt
Daniel Dalton of BuzzFeed writes about perfect words invented by graphic designer John Koenig that you can find in his book, “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.”
Take for example an emotion that every writer knows all too well Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed / unsplash.com / Via dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com
Then there is a feeling that my husband and I shared at our first meeting in person after months of chatting on the Internet. Walking across a bridge in Vancouver, we both looked at a towering high rise across the river and silently marveled at all the lighted windows and the hidden lives behind them. Neither of us said a word out loud and only discovered our thoughts had been mirrored that night during a discussion years after we were married.
Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed / unsplash.com / Via dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com
At The Guardian, author Carolyne Larrington notes that from George RR Martin to Umberto Eco, many writers have been inspired by stories of the middle ages and she selects “some of the best.” (see below)
As I write fantasy and I love that period myself, it made me reflect on my own reading and writing history, which is one reason, of course, that such lists are always popular.
“Kristin Lavransdottir” was a fat book that I picked up when I was thirteen or so and I sank into it and happily drowned in it. But that’s a straight HISTORICAL novel. So, if you leave out the slightly romantizised aspects, it is something like “Ivanhoe”, another early love of mine.
But Larrington’s list also includes mythology (Beowulf) and straight fantasy (the Game of Thrones stuff) – so it’s very much a cart of mixed apples and oranges. Do we want straight history? Then why isn’t Sharon Kay Penman on this list? Do we want historical fantasy? Where’s Judith Tarr or Guy Gavriel Kay?
I realize that it’s only a short list and they were trying for exhaustive, but that’s the problem with lists like this. People like T H White and J R R Tolkien get mentioned only in passing in order to leave space for the “modern”, i.e. post mid-last-century, contributions. Apples and oranges…
I write fantasy myself, both the epic high-fantasy kind (“Hidden Queen”/”Changer of Days” duology) and historical (“Secrets of Jin Shei”, broadly based in a milieu inspired by historical China, or my forthcoming Byzantine epic, “Empress”), So I have a stake in books like this, I love reading them, I love getting immersed in them, I love the fact that they underlay, through fiction, a real and inspired interest in both literature and history in those who read them… but this list is a little, erm, eclectic…What exactly are the criteria here?
Larrington’s Top 10 modern medieval tales include:
Sean Connery and F Murray Abraham in the film version of The Name of the Rose. Photograph: THE RONALD GRANT ARCHIVE
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (1980): This dazzling first novel has brilliant plotting and witty in-jokes (its hero – played by Sean Connery in the film version – is William of Baskerville in a nod to the great detective), combined with a profound understanding of medieval intellectual history. How might medieval – and, indeed, our own culture – have been different if Aristotle’s lost second book of the Poetics, exploring the importance of comedy, had survived? Vividly explaining the primary political and theological questions of the 13th century, the novel finds a kind of sequel in Baudolino (2000), but it’s this one that I regularly reread.
In an essay at The Los Angeles Review of Books, Christopher Grobe discusses
The Case of the Missing Detective: William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes
When an actor playing Sherlock Holmes dons the the deerstalker cap, smokes a curved pipe, and crows, ‘Elementary, my dear fellow’, he may believe he’s being faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle, Grobe writes.
“But he’s actually paying homage to William Gillette, the American actor who wrote, produced, and starred in the first dramatization of Doyle’s tales.”
When I tweeted about Grobe’s article and confessed that I had never heard of William Gillette, a New England friend quickly enlightened me.
“Nobody does until the 5th grade field trip to Gillette Castle,” Mary Jo Place told me. “After that I think it’s on the Connecticut Residency Test.”
She offered to take me to the castle the next time I visit and I may have to take her up on that.
It is common, Grobe writes in his LARB article, to calculate Gillette’s contribution to the Sherlock Holmes mythology — one deerstalker hat plus a meerschaum pipe times a half-dozen Elementaries! But, he adds, this hardly does justice to Gillette’s impact.
“Doyle may have invented the character, but it was Gillette who created the man. He gave a body to that infamous mind, a voice to those words, and a style to Holmes’s very being. As one critic observed in 1929, while announcing Gillette’s return to the stage, Gillette’s face and figure, his voice and manner, gave the entire English-speaking world their mental image of Sherlock Holmes.”
Quote of the Day
And you forget THAT at your peril!
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