Monthly Archives: March 2022

pedantic words and phrases (an authorial “sin”? I would say, it depends on the author)

 

Another of Gissing’s stylistic quirks — the pedantic term imported from Latin or Greek — appears near the climax of “Too Wretched to Live”*: “As he glanced at the handwriting, a woman’s delicate chirography . … ” From the Greek root kheirographon, that bookish final word intrudes upon a scene of supposedly high emotion. The former classics student from Owens College, Manchester, never lost his taste for ink-horn phrases. To the end of his writing career, he retained a preference for erudite words over plain ones — for visage or physiognomy over simply face. Even in Born in Exile (1892), one of his finest novels, we find a broad sprinkling of learned expressions: “susurration,” “sequaciousness,” “intenerates.” Thus the fancy word chirography in the Daily News story provides further evidence of George Gissing’s authorship.

— Robert L. Selig, “An Unknown Gissing Story from the Chicago Daily News,” Studies in Bibliography, 36 (1983), pp. 208-209.

*An early story by George Gissing, published in the Chicago Daily News  during the period Gissing spent in the United States during the late 1870s.

 

Stylistic peculiarities in “A Game of Hearts” also suggest Gissing’s youthful handiwork. The story’s prose contains the same stilted diction that frequently shows up in his signed early tales: “albeit” as a variant for although, “peradventure” for the noun doubt, “metropolis” for city, the high-flown “missives” for letters, and the pedantic “contained therein” rather than simply in it. Similar pompous usages occur, for example, in Gissing’s early story “My First Rehearsal.” “Be it premised that” for assume that; “the moon, which luminary” for the moon, which; “I doubted not” for I felt sure that; and “a trifle hot for pedestrian exertion” rather than just walking. The stiffly learned style appears to reflect the social unease of the youthful George Gissing–a wish to show off his bookish education and distinguish himself from the unlettered masses.

— Robert L. Selig, George Gissing: Lost Stories from America (Edwin Mellen Press, 1992)

 

– posted by Roger W. Smith

   March 2022

TOO MANY words

 

When asked by a student once, how long should a composition be, my high school English teacher replied: as long as required to cover the subject; no more or less.

 

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The following is an essay about the invasion of Ukraine by Patrick Le Hyaric, a French journalist, politician, member of the European Parliament, and a director of the newspaper L’Humanité.

“Le monde peut basculer dans le pire d’un instant à l’autre”

By Patrick Le Hyaric

Le monde peut basculer dans le pire d’un instant à l’autre

This opinion piece is far too long. The author says far too much. Which is to say, in other words, he tries to say everything he or one can conceivably think about the subject of his essay. Whereby he ends up confusing the reader and not conveying anything clearly, really. His key points — whatever they are — get lost in a muddle.

— posted by Roger W. Smith

    March 1, 2022