The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides


A while ago, I came across the quote, “Life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think.” Either Horace Walpole or Moliere said it, but I first saw it in A Jane Austen Education. This idea resurfaced and was repudiated several times as I read The Marriage Plot: A Novel, a great, beautifully-written, but mostly humorless book about three young people who both feel and think too much.

Meet Madeleine, a gorgeous WASP-y twenty-two year old English major. She’s in love with Leonard, a huge bearish lower-middle class whiz kid in biology and philosophy.… Read more »


By: Mike Spasoff

According to Jeffrey Eugenides, the word “paradise” originates from the phrase “walled garden” in Arabic. It comes up in a piece of dialogue uttered by the brilliant and manic depressive Leopold in one of his moody states. What he needs is the curative affect of nature, but an ordered nature.

Unfortunately, a quick perusal on Wikipedia reveals that paradise does not literally (perhaps figuratively) mean “walled garden,” nor does it originate from Arabic. The concept of the walled garden as paradise refers more to the Garden of Eden, than some idea of the inherent mind-boggling wonderfulness of gardens.

The word “paradise” entered English from the French paradis, inherited from the Latin paradisus, from Greek parádeisos (παράδεισος), and ultimately from an Old Iranian root, attested in Avestan as pairi.daêza-.[1] The literal meaning of this Eastern Old Iranian language word is “walled (enclosure)”,[1] from pairi- “around” + -diz “to create (a wall)”.[2] The word is not attested in other Old Iranian languages (these may however be hypothetically reconstructed, for example as Old Persian *paridayda-).… Read more »

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