Thursday, May 24, 2012

Naught, Save . . .

Literary historian, Paul Fussell has died at age 88. He wrote several books, the best known are The Great War and Modern Memory and Wartime.
One of my favorite sections of The Great War and Modern Memory is a brief discussion of elevated, heroic language:
The tutors in this special diction had been the boy's books of George Alfred Henty; the male-romances of Rider Haggard; the poems of Robert Bridges; and especially the Arthurian poems of Tennyson and the pseudo-medieval romances of William Morris. We can set out this "raised," essentially feudal language in a table of equivalents:
A friend is a               comrade
Friendship is             comradeship, or fellowship
A horse is a               steed, or charger
Danger is                   peril
To conquer is to       vanquish
. . .
Warfare is                strife
. . .
Nothing is                naught
Nothing but is         naught, save
. . .