The Thursday Three #9

This post on Anthony’s blog inspired me to start reading Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, which starts off with Justine. It’s one of those lovely older novels that doesn’t get as much attention as novels from the same period that often get studied in school (and for some strange reason reminds me of a mash-up of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu and John Fowles’s The Magus). It also keeps sending me to the dictionary because I have never seen some of the words before. In the first 24 pages, I’ve come upon these three words:

  • aniline (adj.) “… her sullen aniline beauty awoke no response in me.” This is either a toxic organic compound or a type of leather dyed with soluble dyes that retain the leather’s natural surface.
  • pegamoid (adj.) “He is a pegamoid sloth of a man…” This is a waterproof varnish applied to surfaces, which makes me think that this guy is kinda slick and shady.
  • littoral (n.) “… washed up like a half-drowned bird, on the dreary littorals of Alexandria …” It’s a region lying along a shore, which was easier to figure out from context than either of the previous two words. But on first glance, the word made me think of something related to literature.

I’m going to keep noting other interesting words I come across while reading this book. Who says vocabulary lessons aren’t fun? 🙂

4 thoughts on “The Thursday Three #9

  1. This is exciting. I’m eager to find out what you think of it.

    I’d forgotten about “pegamoid” — the others made more of an impression, I guess.

    I’ve never thought of the books in terms of what gets taught in school — but of course when I was in school (thinking of high school here) they were still pretty recent, and most of the books we studied were more like Moby Dick, Beowulf, and various books about people named “Silas” — plus Shakespeare, of course.

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    • I love the language, and although the structure is a bit confusing, I think I got the gist of it. The way the characters are described makes them seem so fascinating and mysterious.

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