Dive in, splash around, skim and dip and spout about the latest quotations, metaphors, words and, of course, triologisms. You’ll feel better for it!

Up hill and down dale

Up hill and down dale

Gavin Maxwell chose to live in a remote house on a remote island in Scotland. Here he describes the extraordinary efforts made by the local postman...

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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.

Always get a receipt

Always get a receipt

Rory Stewart walked the length of Hadrian's Wall, staying at the homes of strangers on the way.  Here he mentions one descended from a Victorian who...

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One wrong move

One wrong move

Babur is one of my favourite dogs, full of character and occasionally stubborn and ornery. Here his new master, Rory Stewart, accidentally hits him...

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War in all its gory

War in all its gory

Steinbeck met a number of people in the Soviet Union who had survived the worst depredations of the Second World War, including the battle for...

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An insolence of goats

An insolence of goats

Reading Gavin Maxwell's lively description of a kitchen takeover by goats makes me wonder how we can call them collectively by a term so bland as...

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Metaphorically speaking

More marvelous metaphors on Mondays … Monday, metaphor day.

Breathing on a crystal

Breathing on a crystal

A limpid simile to describe a lovely human being. Maggie is simple and direct, but her innate charm and beauty cause considerable complexity of...

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Looking good

Looking good

The poor old boy, pallid and wan, in stark and merciless juxtaposition to the ruddy picture of health and well-being, Sir James.  'Skinned over for...

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Mental shallows

Mental shallows

A splendid simile for a shallow-minded person, and I loved the 'nethermost sediment', in which murk turbid calculations are taking place as to...

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Great grassy hills

Great grassy hills

A beautiful description of a large-hearted calming character, who has a benign influence on those around him. We need more Cadwalladers around,...

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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.

Worm-like creature

Worm-like creature

Balint is one of the most engaging characters in Banffy's splendid trilogy of novels covering the closing decades of the Austro-Hungarian empire, as...

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Plum-coloured distances

Plum-coloured distances

A splendid colour wash of distance, along with that enamelled sea and the scrolls of snow. 'Beyond the islands was the shining enamelled sea, and...

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Hedgehog-like attorney

Hedgehog-like attorney

This is from an excellent trilogy by the Hungarian writer Miklos Banffy, chronicling the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and the role of...

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Grey-mantled scavengers

Grey-mantled scavengers

A powerful image, the scavenger squad bare-picking the bones of dead lambs. I have noticed that crows, normally black as pitch, tend to have grey...

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Tide-swayed fronds

Tide-swayed fronds

An otter's eye view of the world, with its human connections and its human-free watery paradise. Maxwell's classic account of his relationship with...

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Topaz-coloured eyes

Topaz-coloured eyes

Adrienne is far the most interesting female character in this monumental trilogy, and there is great finesse in the author's description of her...

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Words

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

Ullage of sunflower

Ullage of sunflower

Something about this word that you can roll around the mouth like a good swig of wine or cognac, the removal of which would result in its ullage in...

Cragfast

Cragfast

Stuck?  In a tight corner?  No going forward ... or back?  Call yourself Cragfast. A sheep cornered on a crag, to starve in the absence of rescue....

Gummocks

Gummocks

This glorious word being no longer current, I invite you to revive it the next time someone does something daft or useless. Perhaps combine it...

A pippin but not an apple

A pippin but not an apple

I always knew the word pippin to be a type of apple, but then came across a reference to 'the expression of his pippin face'. According to the OED,...

Trim, trig and tickety-boo

Trim, trig and tickety-boo

Came across the upright word 'trig' in another of Arthur Ransome's charming children's adventure stories, Winter Holiday, which I read on suitably...

Szkupcsina

Szkupcsina

This intriguing word turned up in Miklos Banffy's superb Transylvanian Trilogy, tracing the decline of the Hungarian aristocracy in the years up to...

I find it moving that no literary text is utterly original, no literary text is completely unique, that it stems from previous texts, built on quotations and misquotations, on the vocabularies fashioned by others and transformed through imagination and use.  Writers must find consolation in the fact that there is no very first story and no last one.  Our literature reaches further back than the beginnings of our memory permits us, and further into the future than our imagination allows us to conceive, but that must be the only barrier.  

Source: Alberto Manguel, The City of Words, CBC Massey Lecture Series (Toronto: Anansi Press, 2007), p. 139

 

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