Mihai-Alexandru

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The Scar
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I, Spy: How to Be...
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The Scar (Bas-Lag, #2)
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Endgame by Samuel Beckett
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More of Mihai-Alexandru's books…
Stephen Fry
“Fawcett also shared with me a passion for words and we would trawl the dictionary together and simply howl and wriggle with delight at the existence of such splendours as ‘strobile’ and ‘magniloquent’, daring and double-daring each other to use them to masters in lessons without giggling. ‘Strobile’ was a tricky one to insert naturally into conversation, since it means a kind of fir-cone, but magniloquent I did manage.

I, being I, went always that little bit too far of course. There was one master who had berated me in a lesson for some tautology or other. He, as what human being wouldn’t when confronted with a lippy verbal show-off like me, delighted in seizing on opportunities to put me down. He was not, however, an English teacher, nor was he necessarily the brightest man in the world.

‘So, Fry. “A lemon yellow colour” is precipitated in your test tube is it? I think you will find, Fry, that we all know that lemons are yellow and that yellow is a colour. Try not to use thee words where one will do. Hm?’

I smarted under this, but got my revenge a week or so later.

‘Well, Fry? It’s a simple enough question. What is titration?’

‘Well, sir…, it’s a process whereby…’

‘Come on, come on. Either you know or you don’t.’

‘Sorry sir, I am anxious to avoid pleonasm, but I think…’

‘Anxious to avoid what?’

‘Pleonasm, sir.’

‘And what do you mean by that?’

‘I’m sorry, sir. I meant that I had no wish to be sesquipedalian.’

‘What?’

‘Sesquipedalian, sir.’

‘What are you talking about?’

I allowed a note of confusion and bewilderment to enter my voice. ‘I didn’t want to be sesquipedalian, sir! You know, pleonastic.’

‘Look, if you’ve got something to say to me, say it. What is this pleonastic nonsense?’

‘It means sir, using more words in a sentence than are necessary. I was anxious to avoid being tautologous, repetitive or superfluous.’

‘Well why on earth didn’t you say so?’

‘I’m sorry, sir. I’ll remember in future, sir.’ I stood up and turned round to face the whole form, my hand on my heart. ‘I solemnly promise in future to help sir out by using seven words where one will do. I solemnly promise to be as pleonastic, prolix and sesquipedalian as he could possibly wish.’


It is a mark of the man’s fundamental good nature that he didn’t whip out a knife there and then, slit my throat from ear to ear and trample on my body in hobnailed boots. The look he gave me showed that he came damned close to considering the idea.”
Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot

Flann O'Brien
“Sweet to me your voice, said Caolcrodha Mac Morna, brother to sweet-worded sweet-toothed Goll from Sliabh Riabhach and Brosnacha Bladhma, relate then the attributes that are to Finn's people.

[...]

I will relate, said Finn. Till a man has accomplished twelve books of poetry, the same is not taken for want of poetry but is forced away. No man is taken till a black hole is hollowed in the world to the depth of his two oxters and he put into it to gaze from it with his lonely head and nothing to him but his shield and a stick of hazel. Then must nine warriors fly their spears at him, one with the other and together. If he be spear-holed past his shield, or spear-killed, he is not taken for want of shield-skill. No man is taken till he is run by warriors through the woods of Erin with his hair bunched-loose about him for bough-tangle and briar-twitch. Should branches disturb his hair or pull it forth like sheep-wool on a hawthorn, he is not taken but is caught and gashed. Weapon-quivering hand or twig-crackling foot at full run, neither is taken. Neck-high sticks he must pass by vaulting, knee-high sticks by stooping. With the eyelids to him stitched to the fringe of his eye-bags, he must be run by Finn's people through the bogs and the marsh-swamps of Erin with two odorous prickle-backed hogs ham-tied and asleep in the seat of his hempen drawers. If he sink beneath a peat-swamp or lose a hog, he is not accepted of Finn's people. For five days he must sit on the brow of a cold hill with twelve-pointed stag-antlers hidden in his seat, without food or music or chessmen. If he cry out or eat grass-stalks or desist from the constant recital of sweet poetry and melodious Irish, he is not taken but is wounded. When pursued by a host, he must stick a spear in the world and hide behind it and vanish in its narrow shelter or he is not taken for want of sorcery. Likewise he must hide beneath a twig, or behind a dried leaf, or under a red stone, or vanish at full speed into the seat of his hempen drawers without changing his course or abating his pace or angering the men of Erin. Two young fosterlings he must carry under the armpits to his jacket through the whole of Erin, and six arm-bearing warriors in his seat together. If he be delivered of a warrior or a blue spear, he is not taken. One hundred head of cattle he must accommodate with wisdom about his person when walking all Erin, the half about his armpits and the half about his trews, his mouth never halting from the discoursing of sweet poetry. One thousand rams he must sequester about his trunks with no offence to the men of Erin, or he is unknown to Finn. He must swiftly milk a fat cow and carry milk-pail and cow for twenty years in the seat of his drawers. When pursued in a chariot by the men of Erin he must dismount, place horse and chariot in the slack of his seat and hide behind his spear, the same being stuck upright in Erin. Unless he accomplishes these feats, he is not wanted of Finn. But if he do them all and be skilful, he is of Finn's people.”
Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds

Upton Sinclair
“I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”
Upton Sinclair

Thomas Pynchon
“And when Franz Ferdinand pays, everybody pays!”
Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
“See
it was like this when
we waltz into this place.
A couple of papish cats
is doing an Aztec two-step

And I says
Dad let's cut
but then this dame
comes up behind me see
and says
you and me could really exist

Wow I says
Only the next day
she has bad teeth
and really hates
poetry.”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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