Thursday, January 17, 2013

"What did he do with the horse?"

Today's reading and browsing has included Gil Brewer, Robert Musil, and my introduction to another Austrian writer often mentioned alongside Musil and who, in fact, knew him.

But no sentence I read today was more delicious than the one that ends Chapter Two of the fourth of the day's books:
"All I could think to ask her was: `What did he do with the horse?'"
And that leads to today's Detectives Beyond Borders question: What words have you encountered for the first time in books and had to look up in a dictionary?

P.S. My admiration goes out to anyone who recognizes the quotation or who can figure out its source from the clue provided here.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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30 Comments:

Blogger Bill Crider said...

I can't remember the first time, but I remember reading MOBY DICK with a dictionary by my side and a little notebook to write down definitions in.

January 17, 2013  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

anyone who recognizes the quotation

But only because I recently purchased and read this book, after seeing it mentioned on Allan Guthrie's list of "Noir Originals."

January 17, 2013  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I dont know if you know this but Broch's life was probably saved by the intervention of James Joyce who wrote letters after the Anschluss demanding Broch's right to travel to Switzerland.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Gavin said...

I think there was a new word for me every 10 pages in "Infinite Jest."

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Bill: Not au courant with whaling terms, are you? The writer who used to send me to the dictionary (or rather, who would make me figure out words' meanings by context or else just luxuriate in their sound) is S.J. Perelman.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

_Finnegan's Wake_ (not dictionary will help!) Damned Joyce!

January 18, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

CORRECTION: NO dictionary will help.

And today's reading for next week's classes (Marlowe's Doctor Faustus has me digging through my Latin-English dictionary. Damn you, Marlowe!)

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth: So you'd have known the source even without the clue (which might have been easier for you than for other readers in any case)?

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I did read about some intercession by Joyce on Broch's behalf, and I know about Joyce's admiration for Italo Svevo. Interesting, his attraction to writers from crumbling empires and liminal spaces.

Incidentally, I am making good progress with The Man Without Qualities, about 625 pages and 113 chapters in. (I'd have read more, but I have to read something other than Musil occasionally so I can have something to post about here.)

The Broch could tide me over until my copy of Volume II of The Man Without Qualities arrives.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Gavin, those were real words and not coinages, I presume? I once read an assessment that called "Infinite Jest" deliberately unreadable. I haven't read the book so I can't assess that assessment, but I have read an essay or two of David Foster Wallace's, and I know that at the very least, he had the verbal chops to break down complicated phenomena in an interesting manner, at least when it came to tennis courts.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

Another correction: Damn you, Faustus! (Redundant, isn't it?)

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T, my acquaintance with Faust is through the intermediary of Berlioz, unless Christa Faust counts.

I've never read more than a few sententences (a typo that I decided not to correct, which seems appropriate considering the subject) of "Finnegans Wake" at a time, but like anyone who pays a bit of attention, i noticed the suggestive coinages. It's quite a prospect to imagine that interest being sustained for hundreds of pages,

January 18, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

Peter, some lit-crit types swear by _Finnegan's Wake_. Those folks and I do not agree. I swear instead that Joyce's _Wake_ is an elaborate publishing hoax by a modernist who wondered how much of a fraud he could perpetrate on all those oh-so-serious lit-crit folks. That is my humble theory, which is another reason I am a pariah among my colleagues. I'm just a plain speaking, plain thinking lit teacher, and I ain't one of 'dem 'dar sudo-interlekshuls suckin' the system dry in the tenure racket!

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You probably of in for Musil when talk turns to classic twentieth-century European novels.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

"You probably of in for Musil . . ."?
You have lost me there.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Goddamn auto-correct!

That should have been: "You probably go in for Miusil."

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Er, Musil, that is, and I can't fault auto-correct this time.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

Computer keyboards have been the undoing of typing skills. Back in the day--as that annoying expression goes--we learned on manual typewriters that were unforgiving of errors, so we learned to touch-type with care because we did not want either to type errors or waste time by correcting those errors (earlier with erasers and later with correction strips and ribbons). I think Mrs. Brandfass, my high school typing teacher, would not be a fan of contemporary "typists'" computer keyboarding skills (or lack of skills).

I also think keyboarding skills are further destroyed when people spend a lot of time texting on their cellphones. Who knew "back in the day" (God, I hate that phrase) that people would someday "type" with their thumbs!

Once upon a time, when I was a military court reporter using the IBM typewriter for records of trial, I was a much better "typist." Now I am one of the sloppiest. Shame on me.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Poor Mrs. Brandfass. I can imagine the fun the calss had with her name behind her back.

I wonder how badly auto-correct will affect "typed" matter. Like many people, I'll give what I've typed a cursory look before I send it into the world. A misspelled word is apt to stand out in such a hasty inspection, a correctly spelled on less so, even if it is not the word I want.

What likely happened above is that I typed "fo" rather than "go," and my computer auto-corrected my mistake, but to "of" rather than "go."

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ideas of progress and its opposite are especially entertaining to me these days as I read The Man Without Qualities.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

I do not recall any sniggering or jokes about Mrs. Brandfass's name. Anyone who would have made such a mistake would have had a very short life.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You'd have sniggered behind her back, as we did about our grade-one teacher, Mrs. Urovich.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I had heard of this book before Guthrie, but he's the guy who got me to buy it. Historian and evangelist of hard-boiled crime fiction are among his many hats.

January 18, 2013  
Blogger Dave Whish-Wilson said...

A word that I didn't have to look up, but have only seen in Westlake's Parker novels is 'jouncing'. I love the word, but is it a Westlake neologism, or was it in common currency in North America once?

January 19, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Its first known use occurred in the fifteenth century, apparently. I like to imagine that I read it first in Dr. Seuss.

My guess is that it's a portmanteau of jolt and bounce. It's an unusually humorous word for a Parker novel, which is a tribute to Westlake. I've read all the Parker novels, and now I'll have to read them again, looking for "jounce."

January 19, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Jounce" or any of its derivative forms, that is.

January 19, 2013  
Blogger Dave Whish-Wilson said...

I like the way it captures (because W always seems to use it to describe an engine jouncing on its axles, or jouncing on a rutted track) the words joist, and bounce..

January 20, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Now, joist a minute there, mate, you must know your way around walls and ceilings if you expect me to believe that was the first word that occurred to you.

January 20, 2013  
Blogger Dave Whish-Wilson said...

I live in an old asbestos cottage, on stumps. Home repairs aplenty. Joists are never far from my mind...

January 20, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sounds like a setting for some horrid Southern Gothic noir.

January 20, 2013  

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