An overlooked and undervalued benefit of reading old books

One of the pleasures of reading books that are described as ‘classic’ is the reintroduction of words that have fallen out of common, everyday use.

I am reading “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene at the moment and the writing is beautiful in a particularly British voice.

Little words like ‘odd’ and ‘queer’ and ‘stimulated’ and ‘scuttled’ are just some of the words I have encountered which I rarely hear nowadays, or read on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook etc.

The use of the word ‘stimulated’ is of particular interest as the embittered narrator of the novel, Bendrix, uses the word in the context of men being excited by certain sexual activities. You would never hear the word ‘stimulated’ in that context nowadays.

Or Henry describing his house as ‘queer’ after the death of his wife Sarah.

Or the exceedingly British diction and phraseology of the private detective, whose name escapes me at the moment.

This is one of the overlooked and undervalued pleasures of reading these books from some decades in the past.

By the way, I would recommend the book even though the bitter outlook of the narrator, Bendrix, often prompts the thought of ‘a plague on all your houses’.

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