Finishing a recent re-read of my copy of Simon Winchester's "The Professor and The Madman" (1998) - a transfixing tale about the first version of the Oxford English Dictionary - I was pleased to see how few of the underlined words from my first pass through the book in 2005 remained unfamiliar to me. Growth.
Soon after, my pleasure was slightly mitigated while reading "American Audacity" (2018). As the top margins in my notes on William Giraldi's brilliant book filled with words like agon, thew, motet - all three appear in my 1984 Random House Dictionary though the first two earn red underlining in my version of Spellcheck - gratitude supplanted my initial dismay. Thank goodness I gave up learning a second language. For me, the feast of the English language is a lifetime meal. My review of the unfamiliar words from "American Audacity" spanned an entire glorious morning.
And as that morning ended, I reflected on another indicator of my personal growth. A younger Pat - over-invested in ego and a misguided belief in my intelligence - would likely have been annoyed or defensive about a book as vocabulary-rich as "American Audacity". How wonderful to instead be challenged and energized by all that's left to learn, to be - as Giraldi says -" … worshipping at the altar of the English language."
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