This week's topic: pesonalities described by naming an eponymous character in literature. We'll leave out characters from the bible, ancient Greece, Shakespeare or Dickens, since each of thoser could be big enough for to be a "weekly theme" of its own.
Panglossian: marked by the view that all is for the best in this best of possible worlds; excessively optimistic [a $50 word] From Dr. Pangloss, a character in Voltaire's Candide (1759). Dr. Pangloss is notable for his incurable, absurd optimism, regardlesss of circumstance, and his contant refrain, "All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds." [Per MW; also MW Dict. of Allusions on the etymology]
quote: Engagement in the world on the basis of these values, not isolationism from it is the hardheaded pragmatism for the 21st Century. Why? In part it is because the countries and people of the world today are more interdependent than ever. That calls for an approach of integration. When I spoke about this issue in Chicago in 1999 and called it a doctrine of international community, people hesitated over what appeared to be Panglossian idealism. --- Speech by Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sunday 7 April 2002
Big Brother was a "character" in George Orwell's dystopian (good word!) book Nineteen Eighty-Four. In fact Big Brother is not a real person. All-present as he is, he is only seen on TV. Big Brother stands for all dictators everywhere. Orwell may have been thinking about figures in certain religions when he invented Big Brother. The mysterious, powerful, God-like figure who sees and knows everything -- but never appears in person.
He is, of course, used in the eponymous TV show which has turned whole countries into voyeurs. Before the TV show's release, Big Brother's name was used to describe any totalitarian dictator, and any changes in society that were perceived to impinge on an individual's personal liberties were often hailed as being inspired by Big Brother.
Not bad for a character who didn't exist, even in the book!
i recently told a friend not to drift around europe and become dick diver (from tender is the night).
also, daisy buchanan. a new, pretty girl at an office is often a daisy buchanan, seated in the parlor with a plethora of boy suitors around her (the great gatsby).
and gatsby himself, a tragic figure who did it all for one woman and ended up alone.
special note: please, i hope no one brings up anything from f*cking gone with the wind. i had a gay guy friend in college for whom every person (me) and every situation (mine) was JUST LIKE in gone with the wind. oh well. tomorrow is another f*cking day. ⁄
Ozymandian: something huge or grandiose but ultimately devoid of meaning; an ironic commentary on the fleeting nature of power and the enduring power of hmuan egotism. (M-W Dict. of Allusion)
From the lovely sonnet (1818) by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The word, though not yet in any word-dictionary I could find, is in use -- most recently in today's Pacific-edition issue of Time Magazine:
Glenn Murcutt's tallest building is three storeys high-and that's at the big end. But he joins some giants in architecture this week as he becomes Australia's first [winner of the] Pritzker Prize, the architectural equivalent of a Pulitzer ... The events of Sept. 11 may have made many feel queasy about skyscrapers, but more than that, the Pritzker committee seemed to appreciate Murcutt's eschewing of Ozymandian edifices for architecture that "touches the earth lightly," as his credo goes. Big, whether in egos or buildings, is just not au courant.
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Mon Aug 12th, 2002 at 22:19.]
With quiet pride, I point modestly to part of my own name, invented by the great Dr. Seuss in his If I Ran the Zoo: (near the end)
quote:The whole town will gasp, "Why, this boy never sleeps! No keeper before ever kept what he keeps! There's no telling WHAT that young fellow will do!" And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo And bring back an IT-KUTCH a PREEP and a PROO A NERKLE a NERD and a SEERSUCKER, too!
I'll hunt in the Jungles of Hippo-no-Hungus And bring back a flock of wild Bippo-no-Bungus! The Bippo-no-Bungus from Hippo-no-Hungus Are better than those down in Dippo-no-Dungus And smarter than those out in Nippo-no-Nungus. And that's why I'll catch 'em in Hippo-no-Hungus Instead of those others in Nungus and Dungus. And people will say when they see these Bips bounding, "This Zoo Keeper, New Keeper's simply astounding! He travels so far that you'd think he would drop! When do you suppose this young fellow will stop?"
Wednesday's word: quixotic - caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals; idealistic without regard to practicality. 1791, from Don Quixote, romantic, impractical hero of Cervantes' novel (1605).
quote:The author of 'Lonesome Dove' is out to save his Texas hometown -- by turning it into the world's largest used bookstore. He is buying up commercial buildings and filling them with used books -- hundreds of thousands of used books gathered from all over the country -- as part of a quixotic scheme to turn this sleepy rural community into a mecca for book lovers. His dream is to create an American version of Hay-on-Wye, the legendary British book town that draws visitors from all over the world. -- New York Times 12/7/97, Larry McMurtry's Dream Job by Mark Horowitz
Hay-on-Wye is one of the most visited tourist spots in Wales. It's a small market town and the national boundary with England, plus the county boundaries of Brecknockshire and Radnorshire run through the town. For some reason a large number of bookshops (it has 1300 people and 39 bookshops) opened in the town. The Hay Festival of Literature takes place there annually.
quote:do you brits pronounce "quixote" the same way we do on our side of the pond: key-OAT-e, rhyming with he-BOAT-he?
That depends on the education level of the speaker: many will say something like QUICKS-oat, whereas those who've been on holiday to Spain will say key-HOT-tay or similar.
i know ted bundy was a real person, but there are so many books about him. deliberate stranger, intimate stranger, the stranger beside me. he still strikes fear in the heart of women even though he fried in 1978. i have had 4 different girlfriends bring up his name, just recently when talking about the safety hazards of dating. it's because he looked like the kind of guy my friends are looking for and they are afraid and so am i that we might fall for someone like him who will end up killing us.
any guy who looks perfect then shows sign of being a complete psycho is a bundy.
munchkin - from the Munchkins, diminutive creatures in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) by L. Frank Baum
AHD: 1. A very small person. 2. (Informal) A child. 3. (informal) A minor official.
Merr.-Webster: a person who is notably small and often endearing (1972)
Free On-line Dictionary of Computing: A teenage-or-younger micro enthusiast hacking BASIC or something else equally constricted. A term of mild derision - munchkins are annoying but some grow up to be hackers after passing through a larval stage. The term urchin is also used. See also wannabee, bitty box
Googling shows frequent use of "munchkin" to mean a breed of cat.
quote:[on a Sunday in August 1983] Barbara Honegger, a special assistant in the Justice Department's civil-rights division, published a guest editorial in the Washington Post, attacking the president on women's issues. On Monday she quit her job. On Tuesday a Justice Department official memorably dismissed Honegger as "a low-level Munchkin" Newsweek, May 13, 1985
Horatio Alger - (1925) of, relating to, or resembling the fiction of Horatio Alger in which success is achieved through self-reliance and hard work (MW) American writer of inspirational adventure books, such as Ragged Dick (1867), featuring impoverished boys who through hard work and virtue achieve great wealth and respect. (AHD)
quote: The White House and Congress are trumpeting their determination to bring economic opportunity to the people of Africa. But ... Nancy Birdsall, president of the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank, said the farm bill belies the "Horatio Alger" ethic that the U.S. encourages poor countries to embrace. Warren Vieth, Los Angeles Times May 27, 2002
Simon Legree: A brutal taskmaster. [After Simon Legree, a cruel slave dealer in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.]
But to me, it seems to have come to be broader, meaning not just a taskmaster but rather any villain of the "Snidely Whiplash" sort of the old silent movies. As in this quotation form Lance Morrow, writing in Time Magazine:
quote:Enemies picture Newt [Gingrich] as the Simon Legree of school lunches and Medicare, the golfing partner of capital gains, the Churchill from K Mart, the nerd pistolero of the punitive right, the all-purpose villain.
Pollyanna - (1921) a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything (M-W) Etym. online: 1913, in allusion to child heroine of Eleanor Hodgman Porter's novels "Pollyanna" (1913) and "Pollyanna Grows Up" (1915), noted for keeping her chin up in the darkest situations.
Strike up the band for the song performed by Doris Day:
quote:Who's the most popular personality? I can't help thinkin' it's no one else but me Gee, I feel just about ten feet tall, ... havin' a ball Guess ya might call ... me ... a Pollyanna
Everybody ... loves a lover I'm a lover ... everybody loves me Anyhow, that's how I feel Wow, I feel ... just ... like ... a Pollyanna I should worry, ... not for nothin' Everybody loves me, ... yes they do And I love everybody Since I fell in love with you
Let's not forget the words that are relavant to our (male) priorities : - Lothario (n.) - Man whose interests in women are...errr...'less than wholesome'. Taken from the name of such a character in The Fair Penitent (1703), a tragedy by Nicholas Rowe. (Isn't it always a tragedy?)
- Tristan (n.) - A man who mistakes vainglory for romantic honor. So named for Tristan of "Tristan and Iseulte", the middle english epic poem, (and later the Wagner opera).