Buckley: The Right Wordby William F. Buckley Jr.
William F. Buckley, Jr., who is even more well known for his supple vocabulary, productivity, and remarkable range of interests than for his politics, provides a one-man show of English in action. By examining the variety of ways in which he employs language, and the responses to them, the reader who delights in words will delight in these exchanges of opinion about… See more details below
William F. Buckley, Jr., who is even more well known for his supple vocabulary, productivity, and remarkable range of interests than for his politics, provides a one-man show of English in action. By examining the variety of ways in which he employs language, and the responses to them, the reader who delights in words will delight in these exchanges of opinion about the many meanings of language. Not all the rewards are in Buckley's own words. Drawing on his correspondents, his friends, his critics, and the work of others, the text provides provocative examples, discussion, and, often, debate in various voices. Much of Bill Buckley's extraordinary mail is concerned with questions of usage. Generous samplings of that correspondence appear along with major essays, columns, interviews, introductions, articles, reviews, and appreciations. There is, too, a Buckley Lexicon, hundreds of words he employs, giving definitions plus examples of their uses from his published writings.
Letters, essays, interviews, speeches, and columns by National Review editor Buckley (Brothers No More, 1995, etc.), along with some letters written back to him, explore subjects as varied as the origin of Buckley's fictional spy Blackford Oakes, subjunctives, Norman Mailer, and the Roman Catholic Church's abandonment of the Latin mass. Of course, Buckley does hold forth on fine points of English usage, but even he has his limit, as demonstrated when one correspondent, after taking exception to Buckley's usage of "momentarily," explores various "sleazy blunders in word usage." Buckley's response: "Aw, lay off, fellas." Such moments of humor, generously sprinkled throughout, do much to give the book its appeal. For example, Buckley experiments with translation software by using it to render two brief notes into French and then back into English, with predictably hilarious results. Of the interviews, there is a particularly memorable one with Jorge Luis Borges; discussing his admiration for English, the great writer notes that its Latin and Germanic roots give it "two registers." There is a group of reviews, including one of Henry James's travel writings, which Buckley adores (the prose is "so resplendent it will sweep you off your feet"), and one of the movie The Right Stuff, which, he says, lacks the "leavening humor" that Tom Wolfe's writing brought to the subject. In a chapter of obituaries, Buckley pays respect to a range of people, from Claire Boothe Luce to his own mother. An appendix of "Buckley lexicons" will attract only those burning to know how Buckley uses terms such as "matrix" or "pertinacity."
In all, an assortment to entertain even some language lovers who find Buckley's politics less than amusing.
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.59(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.77(d)
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