Frank impiety

An incisive summary of the effect of Irish writers on English literature; I liked the English-rose-pruning metaphor and the 'frank impiety' of their robust influence. See Borges also on the illusion of definitive texts. '(Irish writers) … made deep...

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Religion or weariness

I liked this sharp reminder that literature is always work-in-progress, particularly in translation. While I have used the term 'definitive' for some translations, it inevitably implies the caveat 'so far'.   ‘The concept of a definitive text belongs to...

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Something more pressing

Yes, you can find a thousand things more urgent than writing, or at least more insistent. Writing for this and other websites takes precedence over a series of children's stories I have begun. Blogs have a rhythm or schedule, books are open-ended. I find...

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Being never wholly so

This line from a poem concerns being and being written or heard about.  If it isn't written (and presumably, read) or told (and presumably, heard), it cannot fully be. I don't believe I fully agree but it's something to think about. '… what is neither...

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Unintended consequences

A small restaurant in Maine sought to limit the number of reservations by requiring people to send theirs by post. They ended up with more than they could handle, by a long chalk, or pen. Perhaps I could try the same thing with this website. Want to sign...

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Roughing out poems

Hand-written notes and journals have a magic to them. Durrell is a favourite poet and his house in Greece was as close to the coast as you can be without getting your feet wet.  Were these spatterings the voice of the sea telling him when he had a fine...

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A quote to note

Drawing on thousands of sparkling, moving and inspiring quotations amassed during decades of attentive reading. To delight your mind and spirit and improve your presentations beyond belief.

Bad but not dull

How about that for an jowl-shaking quaff? Proof that bad wine can be 'interesting' even if dentally dangerous.See another of Hemingway's graphic descriptions, this time in a vast soup tureen. And for a different but equally florid wine review, see Evelyn...

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A strong soup

Surely one of the most memorable methods for mass disposal of enemies. Hard to compute the numbers in this recipe.  See also Hemingway's lively description of a bad wine. '‘I would like to swim ten leagues in a strong soup made from the cojones of all of...

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Hunger for the universal

Having had such a yearning for as long as I can remember, I was surprised by recognition in seeing it articulated, here presented as a form of hunger. I wasn't born in a ghetto, but did feel constraints in scope which I needed to scramble away from. 'If...

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A transcendent mind

A capacious mind which rises above and speeds ahead of the spillth and swirls of world affairs, political, sociological or technological.  To Zorba, but a pile of rusty old rifles. Here's to similar levels of detachment from time to time.'Why, all these –...

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Metaphorically speaking

More marvelous metaphors on Mondays … Monday, metaphor day.

How the other half lives

Gormenghast has two populations segregated by the walls of the rambling castle. The people outside are treated as lower order beings, but some individuals among them are portrayed with sympathy and admiration, throwing their humble nobility into sharp...

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Towering insult

Gormenghast is a vast, sprawling town of a castle, which seems to have spread organically.  Here one of its towers is likened to an aggressive finger, jabbing at heaven.  See, as a contrast, the similarly graphic description of the hovels limpet-glued to...

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Vague but unmistakable

A perfectly horrific way to intimate the dreadful anticipation of a mortal enemy.  Here Flay realizes, when the hated Chef finally appears in his teeming, steaming subterranean domain, that he had been sensing him all the time, like the growth of a...

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As though unweaned

The birth of the 77th Earl of Gormenghast, innocent Titus Groan, gives celebratory license to the scullions and other assorted assistants and slaves of the Great Kitchen, to drink themselves into stupor.  Here they are portrayed like starving babes at the...

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Triologisms

Bringing you pithy, evocative imagery in the form of three-legged microcosms of meaning. Updated on Tuesdays … Tuesday, triologism day!  You’ll never see this day of the week in the same way again.

Wine-drenched blubber

Swelter, the chef, is vast and rolling excess to Flay's ascetic skinniness, and here presents himself in a stupor.  The contrast between them accentuates their mutual hatred. See another view of Swelter in his drunkenness, and another view of someone of...

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Moss-gloved trees

Years of dripping rain from these moss-soft trees, in an endlessly dank, chill climate, has tanned the leather of a cowl-cape worn by Pentecost, the gardener.  He tends the vast castle gardens with deep love and knowledge, and I liked the description of...

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Sand-coloured teeth

What a compelling description of repellent dentistry. Twice Flay is described so, the second time being further likened to the prehistoric beauty of a turtle. In both cases, he is contemplating Swelter, the cook with whom he is locked into mutual, mortal...

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Prawn-coloured motes

Having spent his long and entire adult life ensconced in the castle walls of Gormenghast, Flay, now dismissed, finds a new existence living wild in the surrounding mountains. At first his exile is desperate, but he eventually develops a certain liking for...

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Storm-nibbled heads

A thousand years of storm wear wipes the faces from the stone heads decorating Gormenghast stormenghast, eyes and features flattened by a million streams of rain. 'Storm-nibbled heads, their shallow faces straited with bad green and draped with creepers.'...

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The brick-dust cough

Flay can be followed by his cough. Being someone who often has a dry cough, I liked this perfect description of that ineluctable irritation in the throat, as in breathing brick dust. '... and then the driest series of brick-dust coughs he had ever heard...

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Words

Sharing words that sparkle, appeal, intrigue or otherwise grab me, including those in other languages.  And adoring alliteration, new words will be added on Wednesdays… Wednesday, word day.   See you back here then.

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Glidder

'It was low tide, and the water ran below glidders, or steep muddy slopes.' Williamson has a helpful habit of using unusual words and then immediately providing his definition of them.  Here he defines 'glidder' as a steep muddy slope, which differs a...

Yarr

'Deadlock yarred through his bare teeth.' 'Between his teeth the hound yarred...' A word now apparently limited to dialect, but feel free to revive it more generally.  If anyone snarls or growls at you, you can tell them to 'Stop yarring'. Deadlock is a...

Glidden

'... to where the banks were glidden into mud smothered by the sea.' An English dialect word meaning to 'glaze over' or cover with ice. Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F. Tunnicliffe...

Mazzard

'... under the mazzard orchards growing on the northern slope of the valley.' According to the OED, mazzard is a 'small, dark, sweet cherry of Devon origin', the fruit or tree of a wild cherry, Prunus avium. It sounds perfect for making the Hungarian sour...

Croodle

'Where pigeons sat and croodled.' A cooing cosy word for a bird, but also meaning to snuggle up, nestle in, cuddle or crouch, for love or warmth. Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F....

Goyal

'... and mossed trees in the goyals.' A dialect word for a trench or ravine, also spelled goyle or or goile and presumably related to 'gully'. Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F....

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