Wednesday 7 May 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday

For Wharton Review month I am reading a Wharton biography (by Hermione Lee) and autobiography (A Backward Glance).

Both books have provided a lovely excursion into the language usage of the time, both in New York and Paris.

On pg 8 of the biography, Lee writes about Wharton receiving the Légion d'honneur and being described in France as...

une des personnalités les plus connues de la colonie américaine

one of the most famous personalities of the American colony

And on pg 32, we find out about the possibility of 

"an intramural affair between Lucretia (Edith's mother) and her sons' cultured young English tutor".

According to google intramural means "situated or done within the walls of a building."

Edith then talks about her time in Paris as a child on pg 39 of A Backward Glance.

"The carriage, of the kind called a daumont, (below) was preceded by outriders, and swayed gracefully on its big C-springs to the rhythm of four high-stepping and highly-groomed horses, a postilion on one of the leaders, and two tremendous footmen perched high at the back. But all I had eyes for was the lady herself, leaning back as ladies of those days leaned in their indolently-hung carriages, flounces of feuille-morte (dead leaves!!) taffetas billowing out about her, and on her rich auburn hair a tiny black lace bonnet with a tea-rose above one ear."

I can imagine a little girl being thrilled by such a splendid spectacle driving by.

I also imagine the 'dead leaves' taffeta was like the dress, second from right, below.


  1. I thought intramural which I have come across before was something about being within walls, close there :) A daumont is new to me. thank you for stopping over to see my words earlier today. I couldn't reply directly :(

  2. I've only known intramural in relation to sports- thanks for this expanded outlook. I guess if we think about murals on walls, it makes sense that the word should mean "within walls." Great pictures- they definitely help me grasp the words better. Thanks!

  3. I'm with Julia - I've only heard intramural used about sports and I've never really thought about its meaning.

  4. Thank you for the words and paintings. Like daumont.

  5. Anonymous8/5/14

    Love the fashionable dresses, thanks! for sharing.

  6. I agree with Julia and Kathy. I love all the images you had on this post. Beautiful.

  7. Anonymous9/5/14

    Thanks for the tidbits ... clarifying the def. of 'intramural' for me. Interesting post of what looks like two great reads. Love the illustrations.


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