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Vocabulary - Salvador Dali in a lawn chair.
I'm invisible without 3D glasses.
lost_angel
lost_angel
Vocabulary
I'm almost finished with Quicksilver and will be starting on The Confusion after I've taken a break and read something less exhausting. It's not that it's difficult to read; it's just minutely detailed about everything, setting, characters, interaction, description, all of it. It's cool to be able to really feel immersed in the book, to feel what it was like to live in 17th century London/Vienna-under-siege/Versailles/Amsterdam, but it makes it a little too dense for bedtime reading.

Neil Stephenson's vocabulary is astounding. He has used more words that I didn't know than even A. S. Byatt did, and she used all sorts of words from British literary academia. Some of Stephenson's words are archaic or rarely used in a modern setting or are simply trade/science/jargon.

The only difference is that I can usually figure out the meanings of those new words from its context from Stephenson's work. Byatt is much more troublesome. I still enjoyed Byatt, but I enjoyed her more after I threw the dictionary away from me and stopped trying to look up every word I couldn't figure out.

What novels or non-fiction have you enjoyed that you felt you had to chew through sometimes to get through it?

music: Simon & Garfunkel - "Baby Driver"

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Comments
yermie From: yermie Date: July 1st, 2004 10:07 am (UTC) (link)

hmm.

I think the latest was "Dick and Jane: a school primer"

but I don't read as much as I used to...

:)
yermie From: yermie Date: July 1st, 2004 10:10 am (UTC) (link)

Re: hmm.

I'm currently trying to work my way through the sequel. It's all about Spot...

but sometimes the big words make my head hurt, so I go lie down. ;)

(Since nobody else had responded to you, I thought I would. I honestly can't remember when I looked up words I couldn't figure out a meaning for from context... But I've been reading some simple stuff lately - fantasy / sci-fi / and Pratchett... So there aren't too many hard unusual words in most of those.)
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: July 1st, 2004 03:28 pm (UTC) (link)

Re: hmm.

Bah, I can't remember any examples at present, and I know if I went and got the book from my bedside table and tried to find a few to list here, I wouldn't be able to locate a single one.

Even though I don't know you very well, I've gotten the impression that I shouldn't feel insulted so I won't be. Instead I'll tease you for reading very simplistic novels. How dare they use only everyday, plain-spoken words!

Or maybe instead of insulted I should feel stupid for not being able to reason out some of these words from their context. Most of the time I am able, and usually just want to double-check my assumption with the dictionary, because usually if I start to think of a word as having a certain meaning, it's hard to break myself of it if I find out later that it's wrong. All of which is something I try to avoid.
yermie From: yermie Date: July 1st, 2004 04:47 pm (UTC) (link)

Re: hmm.

Yes, you shouldn't be insulted... I'm just silly.

And as for not knowing me very well, neither do I. So Hi there, pleased to meet me.

Besides, I grew up reading the dictionary, so I learned lots of fascinating words...

Of course, I then took up drinking, and proceeded to "liberate" those brain cells...

I think you should be impressticated with yourself, that you're reading such stimulating literature to cause you to need to do research to broaden your vocabulary skills.

Keep up the good work!

lyricalpink From: lyricalpink Date: July 1st, 2004 06:04 pm (UTC) (link)
How very odd. I just started Quicksilver this past week. I've been on a Neal Stephenson kick for a few weeks now, starting with Snow Crash and most recently The Diamond Age.

Incidentally, I just finished Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, and the dictionary never left the table. Before I read that I thought I had a pretty fine vocabulary.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: July 2nd, 2004 01:40 am (UTC) (link)
Snowcrash was my first and only Stephenson read until The Baroque Cycle. It is still truly one of my favorite novels, albeit Stephenson has a tendency to leave a lot of theory exposition/explanation in huge chunks. It's like reading a stew: tastes great but lots of chewing. I read it many-a-year ago, but I never had a chance to pick up Cryptonomicon (and C.W., dunno if you ever met him, says The Diamond Age is his favorite).

Will gave me Quicksilver for Christmas but I didn't start on it til 'roundabout May. But since I don't give myself more than fifteen minutes to read at night usually, it's taken me a while to get through it. I've got about thirty more pages to go; I'll probably finish it tonight since I'm so close.

In Quicksilver, Stephenson's theories are a lot more socio-political with science to tie it all together. I've been very impressed with how interdisciplinary it is, and there aren't any lengthy stretches of theory-defense (although that might have something to do with the fact that the book is damn near 1000 pages and he had plenty of room to spread it out).

As for vocabulary, I adore learning new words, even if it's something I'll never use in my entire life. But sometimes it can make the novels very slow going. It is a little slap to the 'ole ego, realizing that my vocabulary isn't nearly as impressive as I thought (yet, most assuredly like yours, far superior to the average joe's), but a bearable sting since I'm enjoying the book and word-choice in the process.

Once you're finished with Quicksilver, I've send you an interview I have of Stephenson at salon.com in which he talks about the novel and his ideas therein. There aren't any spoilers in it, but the whole thing will be much more interesting once you've finished the book.

I am glad that you've picked up his novels and that you're obviously enjoying them since you seem to be voluntarily reading more. SnowCrash has to be my number one most-lent-out book from my entire set of bookshelves.
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