Monday, January 30, 2006

A Word Some Reviewer Will Call Foul

Deep in a work of fiction, I have found myself writing a piece of verse, one that seems (in the story) to be either by Percy Bysshe Shelley or a by contemporary who is able to manage a good imitation. I am expending a lot of effort in avoiding anachronisms, getting a feel for Shelley's rhythms, punctuation, the kinds of rhymes he relied upon or avoided, and much else.

My poem employs the word "unbeholden," meaning not obliged to anyone. Shelley used the word himself at least once, but in its more common sense, unperceived. The other meaning, though attested back to the seventeenth century, is much less common, but he would have known of it -- "not beholden" was common enough in his time -- and not hesitated to use it if he needed to.

I'm sure I'm going to get called on this, though. Well, tough.


Anonymous L.N. Hammer said...

I'm hardly a philologist, but to my ear it sounds eminantly Shelleyan. Purported Keats, I'd look askance -- not really his style.


10:23 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I am doubtless an old fashioned girl: "unbeholden" makes perfect sense to me, meaning "not owing anyone anything" or something like that. There are so many other words out there one could cry Foul over.

10:30 PM  
Blogger \ On The Streets of Philadelphia \ said...

Your writing, insofar as it has accumulated on deck with my experiences to date, is so unselfconscious, so apparently effortless, high-minded, starlight pure, well-directioned, full-crewed, that I am astonished at the genius/engine and durability in the winch of man's finding pleasure in nature (yet again); but (N.B.) rarely from an author.

Many thanks for future readings,
Wallace D. Brindle

1:53 PM  
Blogger JeffV said...

How "deep" can you be in that piece of fiction if you're worried about this? LOL. ;)


6:22 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

Hey, I'm like a dolphin: no matter how deep my dives, I do come up regularly for air.

As it happens, I fussed my way through numerous words -- hurrah for my OED, not to mention numerous online tools -- and finished that section of the tale. For what I am now writing (a discussion of how myths resembles jokes) I am looking at all of last week's Super Bowl commercials, courtesy of

Wallace Brindle, thanks for the kind words. If my prose is "apparently effortless," my strenuous Potemkin Village campaign has worked. (Unless, of course, you mean, "He can't have taken any pains over that.")

11:47 AM  
Blogger Scraps said...

Greg, we didn't get home last night till late. I now find that I don't seem to have your email address on my current computer. Drop me a line?

6:34 AM  
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