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Thread: Flowery language

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    Registered User EmptySeraph's Avatar
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    Flowery language

    I'm interested in the depths of the lexicon. Thus, I've set off in a neverending odyssey for books written in a predominantely ornamental style. Any ideas about (fiction) books that make use (or abuse) of tons of words? Moby-Dick? Bleak House? Ulysses? The Scarlet Letter? Ada or Ardor? The Ambassadors? Nostromo? I've already read the obvious choices. Old, modern, it doesn't matter at all. I can go all the way from Defoe to Pynchon. The words are at stake here, the vocabulary. Suggestions?
    Last edited by EmptySeraph; 03-16-2017 at 08:47 PM.

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    holy cow---tom jones by henry fielding! the majority of the sentences are multiple lines long, full of complexity and elaborate thought. its a chore to read.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmptySeraph View Post
    I'm interested in the depths of the lexicon. Thus, I've set off in a neverending odyssey for books written in a predominantely ornamental style. Any ideas about (fiction) books that make use (or abuse) of tons of words? Moby-Dick? Bleak House? Ulysses? The Scarlet Letter? Ada or Ardor? The Ambassadors? Nostromo? I've already read the obvious choices. Old, modern, it doesn't matter at all. I can go all the way from Defoe to Pynchon. The words are at stake here, the vocabulary. Suggestions?
    Of course Shakespeare is the greatest poetically. Then there's John Milton, Robert Burton, Sir Thomas Browne, and all the authors you mentioned. Then James Joyce, Lawrence Durrell, William Faulkner, and others.

    Not just for their vocabulary but for their peculiar uses of language, especially Milton and Faulkner who are very Latinate in the sentence construction and fluidity and the other things.

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    Best to read for enjoyment, if you can't get into a book lay it aside and pick up the next one. Don't let the idea of classics force your hand to read some or stop you trying to read them. Some stuff like Joseph Conrad leaves me cold, but Dickens really
    strikes the mark. Its the same with music nearly all Debussy sounds like torrents of meaningless notes but Chopin makes me weep every time.a

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    J.K. Huysmans- À rebours
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    Theophile Gautier- Stories and/or Poems
    Walter Pater- The Renaissance
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    Registered User EmptySeraph's Avatar
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    Well, the decadents, with their art pour l'art, are probable to occupy a few seats in a contest of prolix, artificial, dizzyingly ornamental writing. Mallarmé, I think, fits this scenario very well. And because you mentioned Walter Pater, I've just reminded of John Ruskin. A very good aesthetician. Perhaps Wilde is not too far. Do you know any more aestheticians like these? Great stylists, that is...

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    My opinion, for what it's worth, is that we hit peak-flowery-language in the 18th century, with the likes of Swift, Steele, Addison etc.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    Gibbon surely is one of the greatest stylists of all time regarding the English language. Doubtless, the age of peruques produced some great writers.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Give a whirl to Roland Firbank, Valmouth or Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli. Hot house flowery.

    I'd have thought Swift was noted for the plainness of his prose. Didn't he read his pieces to his servants before publication to make sure they could understand?
    Previously JonathanB

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Magnificent though Gibbon is as a stylist, again I wouldn't call him at all flowery, which to me means being lush in language for its own sake. Every word tells with Gibbon.

    Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Grey strikes me as far more an example of flowery.
    Last edited by Jackson Richardson; 03-19-2017 at 04:21 AM.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    I only know it by reputation, but John Lyly's Euphues - 1579 - is known above all for its over elaborate style.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    lichtrausch lichtrausch's Avatar
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    Der Zauberberg has a fair bit of flowery language, helped along by two of the protagonists who love endless debates on esoteric topics.

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what "flowery language" means. Words and their meanings are insuperable, and "style" is not a sauce with which an otherwise unpalatable dish can be rendered edible. As we know from Tennyson, if we could understand a "flower" (and hence what "flowery" means) we would "know what God and man is."

    Nonetheless, if we seek writing in which the sound of the words resonates pleasantly, and enhances the meaning of the paragraph, or if we seek prose that resembles poetry, I vote for Joyce. Here are two examples: First, the last paragraph of "The Dead", which (as per above) is more redolent (flowery?) if one has read the story:

    A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
    Certainly this is poetic (if not "flowery"), the alliteration of "falling faintly" and it's counter part "faintly falling", the imagery of the snow falling on the graveyard, and, then, the way Joyce makes the specific image resonate with universal truths ("through the universe", "all the living and the dead") show how poetic technique can enhance prose writing.

    Here's a fancier example, from the 40-page-long run on sentence at the end of "Ulysses":

    the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
    Of course this is "flowery" (intentionally so, I imagine) because of the reference to "rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums" -- the reader smells the flowers. IN addition, the passage is poetic because it begs to be read out loud -- the repetition of "O" and "Yes" gives it a breathless tone that reminds the reader of rapid speech. The mood created by that breathlessness is essential to the meaning of the passage (as, of course, is the preceding 800 pages of the novel).

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I loved the flowery examples above. "The dead" is one of my favorite short stories. But couldn´t "flowery language" also mean that one has to read the text more than once to understand what it is about?

    Take for example this Shakespeare sonnet (or most of his other ones)

    SONNET III

    Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
    Now is the time that face should form another;
    Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
    Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
    For where is she so fair whose unear'd womb
    Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
    Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
    Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
    Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
    Calls back the lovely April of her prime:
    So thou through windows of thine age shall see
    Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.
    But if thou live, remember'd not to be,
    Die single, and thine image dies with thee.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    To me, "flowery language" means (something like) "poetic language". So it's not surprising that poetry qualifies. "An ornamental style" is one phrase the OP uses to describe the language he seeks, but I wonder if the language used in any literary work is"ornamental". An ornament adorns the Christmas tree, but is not essential to it. Surely whatever language an author uses to create a work of art is essential to the work (the story or play or poem couldn't exist without it) rather than "ornamental". I'm not sure the language used to tell a story as "ornamental" to the story -- as if the "plot" or the characters could exist without words (although perhaps it can).

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