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Gargantuan Words and Thoughts

March 01, 2017 12:00 PM | Anonymous

Here’s something to discuss around the water cooler. Or not. Publisher’s Weeklyreports that ten books had print unit sales notably higher in the first four weeks of this year compared to last year. The one that sold the most was George Orwell’s 1984, a whooping 38,826 year-to-date units. Other unusually heavy sales, all in the thousands, included Orwell’s Animal Farm, We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Constitution of the United States, Hannah Arendt’s The Origin of Totalitarianism, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal.

“Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to stick to what you  can make people believe is the truth.” [Small town newspaper in Washington State]

Tuesday, March 21 is World Poetry Day. UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) established the day in 1999, to “promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world.” Publisher’s Weekly (again) notes that two poetry books made the bestseller list for April 1, 1916: “The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke, from the British poet famous for his sonnets about World War I (and for his good looks), and the seminal Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, an enduring collection of poems about an imaginary small town.”

Rabelais, who wrote Gargantua in the mid-1600s, and who would be in trouble with Citizens for Unpolluted and Nice Reading today, loved gargantuan words that he surely made up on the spot, i.e., trepignemanpenillorifrizonoufresterfumbledtumbled and squeezed her.” You won’t find that nonce word in Funk and Wagnalls.

Gustave Flaubert, author of the classic Madame Bovary, was once asked who the real-life Emma Bovary was. Flaubert’s wonderful answer was “I am Madame Bovary.” Flaubert also said, “An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.”

Katherine Hepburn remarked, “What acting means is that you’ve got to get out of your own skin.” A definition of reading a good book, too!

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