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The Secondary Colors: Three Essays

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  77 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
Alexander Theroux, with these essays on the secondary colors - orange, purple, and green - continues to explore by way of literature, music, art, poetry, linguistics, sports, religion, food, science, botany, movies, fable, anecdote, and no end of satire and strong opinion the innumerable facets of each color, which, like the magic of his writing, scintillate like perfect d ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Owl Books (NY) (first published 1996)
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Color by Victoria FinlayInteraction of Color by Josef AlbersChromophobia by David BatchelorMauve by Simon GarfieldBlue by Michel Pastoureau
The History of Colors
21st out of 34 books — 17 voters
Color by Victoria FinlayInteraction of Color by Josef AlbersTheory of Colours by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheConcerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily KandinskyThe Elements of Color by Johannes Itten
Best Books About Colors
33rd out of 33 books — 50 voters

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MJ Nicholls
Dec 04, 2014 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, merkins
This book opens with: “Orange is a bold, forritsome color.” And this book closes with: “Green in its virtuosity is like an aria, the basic and essential cantata, its elemental color, providing a melodic skeleton or frame, as it were, completed by the song of nature in spectral and splendiferous bel canto from her vast repertoire of ornaments, graces, roulades, trills, embellishments, portamenti, arpeggios, octave skips, slurs, and rapid scale passages. Green in its jubiliance is lyrical, though ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Colors are the deeds
and sufferings of light.


A Review via three secondary colors and their introductory paragraphs.


“Orange is a bold, forritsome color. It sells, it smiles, it sings, it simpers, combining the aura of Hollywood musicals, the leisure of sunshiny Florida--Moon Over Miami in Technicolor--and South American festivals. Orange is ‘hot,’ gives back light, and sits at the center of one’s ch’i (cosmic or vital energy). It is an active, warm, advancing earthy color, indicative
Jul 12, 2013 Rowena rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, essays
Another greatly impressive book by Alexander Theroux. I enjoyed it just as much as I liked Theroux's The Primary Colours. This essay collection talks about the secondary colours orange, purple and green. Like in the last book, it goes into what these colours symbolize, and how they are represented, in a wide range of subjects, such as art, history, linguistics and literature.

It's actually delightful to read Alexander Theroux's essays as it's obvious that he loves words, and his enthusiasm shows
Dec 03, 2008 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Purple, Orange, Green. Who would have thought? Theroux' essays are symphonic.
Oct 08, 2010 Jenn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think this was as successful as The Primary Colors for two reasons that might be entirely personal. I think the historical associations for the primary colors are more compelling, perhaps by their very nature. I also find that any second attempt of a charmingly unique format loses a little of its charm.
Dec 24, 2010 Rissi rated it really liked it
Such a lot of information about colors. How we see them, how they get named, what they have meant to different societies. Enjoyable and fascinating reading.
Malik Purvis
Jul 20, 2015 Malik Purvis rated it really liked it
This man knows too much. He must be assassinated.
Dec 19, 2009 Nathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Loved it.
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Alexander Theroux...: The Secondary Colors (1996) 1 4 Jan 09, 2013 12:32AM  
  • Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction
  • Tests of Time
  • Theory of Colours
  • Black: The History of a Color
  • Chromophobia
  • Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color
  • The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent: Selected Essays of Lionel Trilling
  • ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color
  • The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky
  • The Difficulty of Being
  • The Letters of William Gaddis
  • Sketchbooks: The Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators and Creatives
  • The Deep Zoo
  • The Novel of the Future
  • Every Force Evolves a Form: Twenty Essays
  • Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind
  • Joseph Cornell's Theater of the Mind: Selected Diaries, Letters, and Files
Alexander Theroux is a novelist, poet, and essayist. The most apt description of the novels of Theroux was given by Anthony Burgess in praise of Theroux's Darconville's Cat: Theroux is 'word drunk', filling his novels with a torrent of words archaic and neologic, always striving for originality, while drawing from the traditions of Rolfe, Rabelais, Sterne, and Nabokov.
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