Showing posts with label amaneunsis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label amaneunsis. Show all posts

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia Day 17: Amanuensis

Today's word is...

An amanuensis (noun) is a person employed to write from dictation or to copy manuscript - from the 17th century, referring to a scrivener, scribe or secretary.  Pronounced: "ah-man-yuh-WEN-sis."

This sounds like a very important job title.  Imagine if we secretaries and copyists went by such a title these days?  I love the way it looks.  Copy-work isn't exciting.  If you've ever read Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener", you know what I mean: three men were employed in the narrator's office to keep track of documents and duplicate them.  Margaret Lea, the narrator in The Thirteenth Tale, describes herself as an amanuensis to a famous writer telling her last scintillating tale.  Amanuensises (is that right?) are the first listeners of a story, becoming the silent narrators upon its retelling.  It is a role we inhabit when we're constructing our stories: the story/novel comes out of us, it is our job to obey and see where it wants us to go instead of the other way around.  The story dictates.  We do our best to copy.  Writing is humble, but it can indeed be glorious work.


You may have noticed I located a manual typewriter.  All I had to do was inquire of my roommate.  As this was her grandparents' house, I am surrounded by hidden treasures waiting to be used.


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