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Post Info TOPIC: The Odd Word


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Date: Oct 15 11:29 AM, 2017
RE: The Odd Word
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Ladies,

I had the same reaction to Ross' comment that you did when I first read it, but reading this whole entry got me thinking that maybe the word's meaning changed over the years so I checked the two dictionaries of the period I consult when I come across an unfamiliar word or usage in a "Poldark" volume (Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, 1756 edition, and Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition). 
 
And it looks like we owe Ross an apology for thinking he had called his wife a stupid whore/strumpet/whatever other synonym for prostitute you choose. In his day, "slut" had no sexual connotation at all. Instead it meant a woman who did not keep her body, her clothing or her surroundings clean and tidy aka Prudie, but it was also a term "of slight contempt for a woman." 
 
Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, 1756 edition (available online at whichenglish.com): 
SLUT. . [pdde, Dutch.]
1. A dirty woman. King.
2. A word of light contempt to a woman. L'Etrange.
 
Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition (available online at webstersdictionary1828.com):

SLUTnoun

1. A woman who is negligent of cleanliness, and who suffers her person, clothes, funiture, etc., to be dirty or in disorder.

2. A name of slight contempt for a woman.



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Date: Oct 9 11:51 AM, 2017
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JanetMaison wrote:

In the The Loving Cup after Demelza discovers that Jeremy has robbed the stagecoach, she gets drunk. Ross comes home, realizes she's drunk and says "You stupid slut. How long has this been going on?" I don't know what I'm more shocked about. Ross calling Demelza stupid or calling her a slut. Every time I read this passage, I feel a little upset.   Does anyone have any insight as to why Winston Graham would have Ross saying this? 


 Janet Maison - I am so glad you posted this. When I read those words "You stupid slut" I felt hatred towards Ross for the first and only time. Even the night with Elizabeth didn't shock me like these three words did. As Mrs Gimlett has said, it seemed so out of character.



-- Edited by Stella Poldark on Monday 9th of October 2017 11:52:17 AM

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Date: Oct 9 9:19 AM, 2017
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Janet, that phrase offends me, too.  It seems very out of character for Ross.  He rants and rises quite quickly to anger, but he rarely curses or uses coarse language.  I can only think that, in the first realisation his wife has overdone the port, he says the first thing that comes into his head.  Ross does have a history of calling some women sluts, mostly Lucy Pipe and her ilk.  However, you would hardly expect him to use it to describe Demelza.  That he dislikes seeing drunkenness in females I can understand.  It offended his idea of how they should behave.

He does redeem himself, though.  Ross is extremely worried about his beloved wife and cannot understand her behaviour.  It occupies his mind for some while and he does correctly divine that something extraordinary has happened and somehow it involves Jeremy.  What he never knows is what really occurred.

I can offer no reason why WG wrote that line.  Perhaps he felt those words would best express Ross' shock at discovering Demelza drunk.



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Date: Oct 9 7:51 AM, 2017
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In the The Loving Cup after Demelza discovers that Jeremy has robbed the stagecoach, she gets drunk. Ross comes home, realizes she's drunk and says "You stupid slut. How long has this been going on?" I don't know what I'm more shocked about. Ross calling Demelza stupid or calling her a slut. Every time I read this passage, I feel a little upset.   Does anyone have any insight as to why Winston Graham would have Ross saying this? 



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Date: Oct 9 3:17 AM, 2017
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I was just reading "The Twisted Sword" and came across the word "brat" in this case used by Katie, and I realized it was one word that irritated me.  It is used a lot in the Poldark books, especially by Caroline, but it rubs me the wrong way because of today's connotation of being a child that is ill-mannered and/or spoiled.  Apparently it used to be used in a good sense but knowing Caroline's attitude towards children there still seems to be a slightly negative connotation.   I don't think Ross or Demelza ever referred to their children as brats but I believe Ross used the term for other people's children, not in a negative way.  Also, I often thought the word "desultory" was overused but may perfectly describe the after-dinner conversations that they had. 



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Date: Oct 8 9:30 PM, 2017
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Mrs Gimlett - Just to let you know that I am looking out for odd words as I read. I may have found one but I want to ponder a while before posting.



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Date: Oct 5 10:09 AM, 2017
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WG wrote millions of words. 

Are there any which irritate you?  Do you find yourself wishing he had used a different word at certain times?  Are you surprised by some of the writing?

 

Sometimes, when I have been reading the books, I have thought how odd it is that WGs characters nearly always FUMBLE in their pockets for items.  Ross does it often, others do too.  They never rummage or dig around or grope, search or even feel around the said pockets.  Fumble seems to indicate a clumsiness, which personally I don't think applies to Ross.  Perhaps it is just a word WG liked using.

Another word which I remember discussing with someone a few years ago occurs in the First Edition of RP.  It is STRUMPET.  When the 'blue dress scene' is playing out, many different thoughts go through Ross' mind and one of them is his relationship with his kitchen maid.  'It would degrade her to make a strumpet of her...'  It seems a very odd word choice for WG to use.  The definition of strumpet is a prostitute, a trollop, a whore.  None of these appellations would apply to Demelza, whatever had happened that night.  Somehow it disrupts the flow of narrative because it seems out of character for WG to use it, particularly in that context. 

Stephen Carrington's use of MISANTHROPICAL.  Given what we know of his background, would Stephen even have known the word and if he did, how likely would he have been to use it?

I am sure there are things which all members have noticed.  These are not meant as criticisms, I but just want to open up a discussion to find out what other members think. From an author who measured his words and wrote such beautifully rounded passages, I find the odd word occasionally jars. It is probably because there are comparatively few of these that they stand out.  Do you agree?

 

 



-- Edited by Mrs Gimlett on Thursday 5th of October 2017 07:04:51 PM

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