Sunday, July 14, 2013

Doomsday Book

Connie Willis' Doomsday Book is amazingly good. It features time-travelling Oxford historians of the future, rural English peasants of the past, and the epidemics and personal connections that intertwine their lives across hundreds of years. It is excellent. I had intended to ration out the nearly 600-page novel, but instead ended up reading it in one contiguous binge. It is not a tense page-turner, but such a quality novel, with intriguing characters and plot, and well-written, that I did not want it to end. And indeed, as the book in my right hand dwindled, I became increasingly worried about the yet-unresolved fates of the many characters.

The themes concluded on the melancholy, yet woven throughout was a persistent thread of the hopefulness of all academics and those who seek and disseminate knowledge. I can see echoes in Doomsday Book of To Say Nothing of the Dog, but the shared world and frantic action which were used to comedic result in that book, were used to other ends in this. Computers, paradoxes, math, history, survival skills, the art of consuming a gobstopper, and the curious evolution of the English language, are each given focus in turn. Intelligent characters keep their senses of humor while determinedly solving problems and achieving goals. 

So good. You should read it.

This post's theme word is calque, "a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation." Wikipedia informs us that determining a word is a calque is often more difficult than identifying mere loan words.

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