June 25, 2010

Friday's Philology

Twice, maybe thrice, I have encountered the word "perfervid" used in Thomas Hardy's beautiful novel, The Return of the Native (1878). Hardy uses the word, each time, in describing the actions or thoughts of one of his protagonists, the beautiful, dark-haired and -eyed, Miss Eustacia Vye. 

perfervid - (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) Literary extremely ardent, enthusiastic, or zealous
[from New Latin perfervidus, from Latin per- (intensive) + fervidus fervid]

perfervid - characterized by intense emotion; "ardent love"; "an ardent lover"; "a fervent desire to change society"; "a fervent admirer"; "fiery oratory"; "an impassioned appeal"; "a torrid love affair."

Anyone who has read The Return of the Native will undoubtedly see that this word certainly applies to Eustacia Vye, 'The Queen of Night.' Hardy describes Eustacia with the following words, "To be loved to madness--such was her great desire." That must be perfervidness!

Say the word perfervid out loud, and feel it on your tongue and lips. To me, the word just becomes an evocative portrait of passion and ardent desire. Cool, huh?

[The photograph used in this posting is of the actress, Catherine Zeta Jones, who played 'Eustacia Vye' in the 1994 Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Hardy's The Return of the Native]

1 comment:

  1. Excellent word, indeed! It's sorta like "extra-fervent."

    I love the blog make-over. Fits your content quite nicely. Keep up the awesome posts!