Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:08 pm

In recent years I find myself coming upon words that I know I used to know, but just can’t recall the meaning of now. It’s a bit annoying – perhaps old age setting in! (>:). Anyway, I’ve decided to begin to post some of them, and not just one’s I’ve never seen before, and perhaps help others who have forgotten or perhaps never knew their meaning.

Recently, in scrounging around for a new book to read, I thought of Brideshead Revisited (1945) by Evelyn Waugh. It had been made into a television series in 1981, which my wife and I looked forward to watching while we sat back on Sunday nights in our double-reclining chair soaking it up. I had never read anything by Waugh and was wondering if I might like the book (If anyone has read it, I would appreciate any comments on it and also on Waugh’s writings in general if you are familiar with it.). In reading the short Amazon description of the book, I found the following:
“At once romantic, sensuous, comic, and somber, Brideshead Revisited transcends Waugh's early satiric explorations and reveals him to be an elegiac, lyrical novelist of the utmost feeling and lucidity.”
elegiac adjective

1) Of, relating to, befitting, characteristic of an elegy or comprising elegy or an elegy. <an elegiac poem on the death of a friend> (Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? But I just didn’t relate the two.(>:))

a) especially: Expressing sorrow, lamentation, mourning, or regret often for someone or something which is now irrecoverably past or lost: plaintive, nostalgic, mournful, melancholy. <an elegiac regret for departed youth> <an elegiac lament for a long-lost tradition>

b) Wistfully mournful. <‘She watched repeat serials, fixed on their moody and elegiac characterization.’>

Etymology: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from French. Partly a borrowing from Greek. Etymons: French elegiaque, Latin elegiacus, Greek ἐλεγειακός; from elegy - Latin elegia, Greek elegeia, elegeion, from elegos song of mourning or lamentation accompanied by the flute.

First known use: 15th century

(Oxforddictionaries.com, Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, and Oxford English Dictionary)

For alternate spelling Wordwizard discussion see: here

The following quotes are from The Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1901 “Out of the stress and anguish of that bitter period came ‘In Memoriam’, the noblest elegiac poem to be found in any language.”— Loiterings in Old Fields by J. B. Kenyon, i. page 11>

<1921 “It must not be thought . . . that the mood of Henry Higginson's last years was elegiac.”—Life & Letter of Henry Lee Higginson by B. Perrry, xiv. page 524>

<1960 “The smaller, sophisticated, elegiac sound of modern jazz.”—Sunday Times (London), 11 September, page 37/1>

<1983 “It’s a magnificent film, lyrical, elegiac, rich with resonance and meaning.”—The Boston Globe (Boston Massachusetts), 15 September, page 90>

<1998 “No writer since Raymond Chandler has done better at forming his own fictional world around the stoic, elegiac essence of Hemingway at his best.”—Daily News (New York, New York), 17 May, page 802>

<2012 “There is a strongly mournful, elegiac quality to the film.”—George Clooney by M. Browning, page 188>

<2019 “Set in and around the titular coastal community, Manchester By the Sea is an elegiac drama, which eloquently explores universal themes of grief, guilt and sexual awakening . . .”—Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), 12 January>


Ken Greenwald — February 1, 2019

Re: elegiac

Post by Rufus Miles » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:00 pm

Hi Ken, you are lucky if you have not yet read much Waugh. He is a master of style. He used to be generally considered one of the greatest of English writers but seems now to be a bit out of fashion, perhaps partly because of his rather reactionary persona. I would recommend Scoop, Black Mischief or The Loved One as light reading. But if you enjoyed Brideshead then the autobiographical Sword of Honour trilogy, about WW2, is very good.
Signature: "Being an agnostic means all things are possible, even God, even the Holy Trinity. This world is so strange that anything may happen, or may not happen." Jorge Luis Borges

Re: elegiac

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Feb 02, 2019 3:36 am

Thanks Rufus,


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