There was a recent piece on NPR about dementia and how it develops. There is a corrolation between the the profundity of descriptive vocabulary, cognitive ability and the ability to predict decline. The researcher used Agatha Christie’s novels as the barometer since she was a prolific writer and most likely had dementia later in life. The discovery was that long before anyone may have suggested dementia, Christie’s writing exhibited a slow ebb of complex narrative.
I have been reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and to my delight I have stumbled upon several words the either I see rarely used or have no inkling of their meaning. I adore a novel in which I must pull down my Thesaurus or open www.dictionary.com. Also, I am of the opinion that no matter how large a body of work, there are some words that are too large or exotic to be used more than once. Within the first 150 pages, Grossman uses the word capacious twice, once to describe sinks. Admittedly, I had to reference the word. In context, I knew it must mean deep. I envisioned farmhouse sinks. But, the word capacious is an elaborate, haute couture word. It is a lovely word, but ample or large would have sufficed. Use it once: cool. Use it twice and your overdressed.
horological: an adjective referring to horology. OKAY…so what is horology? It is the science of making timepieces and measuring time.
brio: energy,liveliness, vivacity, determination, vigor, and also honor, dignity and authority.
glebe: soil, land, field
sangfroid: coolness, calmness, composure
flense: to strip the skin or blubber from (a whale or seal)
miscegenation: the intermarriage or cohabitation of two from different races
orgiastic: wanton, licentious, debauched
kludge: [slang] an inelegant software or hardware configuration that still gets the job done
surcease: to cease and desist
persiflage: a frivolous or flippant way of discussing a topic; light banter
I intend on adding all my new found words.
Addendum: I finished the book and it did have a Thesaurus low note to its flavor. The ending felt rushed while the fantasy component, while Quentin is in Fillory felt too far-fetched from the very modern setting of the rest of the book. It was like an odd grafting of Narnia or Oz onto the parallel but invisible wizarding world of Harry Potter. I will read the sequel due out next summer, but I was not very satisfied with this book.