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VAUGHANS VOCABULARY Testing knowledge of a visionary masterpiece...

October 12, 2010

Recently I was skimming the 1847 masterpiece Wuthering Heights, authored by Emily Bronte (1818-48). Holding a prominent position in the canon of world literature, it actually began with a whimper and not a bang. Initially, readers found WH appalling and inappropriate, and few copies were sold.
Emily Bronte’s sister Charlotte (1816-55) stated in a preface to the book, “Whether it’s right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know. I scarcely think it is.”
This week’s Vaughan’s Vocabulary tests your knowledge of Emily Bronte’s masterpiece of visionary power.

1. Which one of the following is a character in Wuthering Heights?
A. Edward Rochester
B. St. John Rivers
C. Nelly Dean
D. Helen Graham
E. Gilbert Markham

Edward Rochester and St. John Rivers are characters in Charlotte Bronte’s book Jane Eyre. Helen Graham and Gilbert Markham are in Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Nelly Dean is known formally as Ellen Dean.

2. Wuthering Heights is
A. an autobiography.
B. a biography.
C. a novel.
D. a place in Brooklyn, New York.

3. wuthering (WUH-thurr-ing)
A. (of a wind) blowing strongly with a roaring sound
B. (of a place) characterized by such a sound
C. deteriorating
D. None of the above

The verb wuther means to blow with a dull roaring sound. Both A and B are correct for wuthering.

4. appalling (uh-PAW-ling)
A. humdrum (HUM-drum)
B. vulgar (VUL-gur)
C. hackneyed (HACK-need)
D. causing dismay or horror
E. roborant (ROB-uh-runt)
No. 4, appalling, is D.

Last week’s mystery word clue was pertaining to the Italian composer Paul Creston (1906-1985), whose birthday was this past Sunday. The word described him not long after he began taking music lessons. You are right if you thought of “precocious.”
I realize that I frequently mention classical composers, but I love classical music and learning more about it. The first four letters in the mystery word are the last name of the German-born U.S. composer who composed Echoi (1961-63). The mystery word means to search for by or as if by rummaging, ferret out.

Contact Don Vaughan at

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