Friday, May 11, 2018

X is for X-Division, Xenagogue, Xenium, Xenization, Xenodochium and Xyresic: Zelazny A to Z

I wanted to do something different with this post, seeing as most A to Z lists fall back on X-ray or xylophone. I consulted this handy list of 40 words that begin with X and came up with a few contenders.

 X-DIVISION: Victorian slang for criminals or pickpockets, or people who make a living by some underhand means: This could work, seeing as many of Zelazny’s characters operate within the underworld.

XENAGOGUE: Derived from the same root as xenophobia, a xenagogue is someone whose job it is to conduct strangers or to act as a guide: Roger Zelazny is our xenagogue to his fantastic worlds.

XENIUM:  A xenium is a gift or offering given to a stranger, which in its native Ancient Greece would once have been a lavish feast or a refreshing spread of food and fruit. In the 19th century art world, however, xenium came to refer to a still-life painting depicting something like a extravagant display of food or a bowl of fruit: It doesn’t map exactly, but I could imagine the word evolving to apply to the Star-Stone in Doorways in the Sand.

XENIZATION: A 19th-century word meaning “the act of traveling as a stranger.”: Yeah, this list is kind of a cheat because they all have the same root word, but this is another theme common to Zelazny’s work.

XENODOCHIUM: A guesthouse or hostel, or any similar stopping place for travelers or pilgrims. Such as The Sign of the Burning Pestle, which lay upon a coach road near the ocean.
"My name is Jack, and I've traveled far to reach this place, Haric," he replied. "I seek an old woman who was coming here to spend her final days. Her name is Rosalie. Tell me what you know of her."
Haric creased his brow, lowered his head and squinted.
"Bide a moment," he said. "There was an old hag . . . Yes. She died some time ago."
"Oh," said Jack. "Tell me then where she is buried, that I might visit her grave."
Haric snorted and quaffed his wine. He then he began to laugh. He wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, then raised it to wipe his eyes with his sleeve.
"Buried?" he said. "She was worthless. We only kept her here for charity's sake, and because she knew somewhat of healing."
Tiny bulges of muscle appeared at the hinges of Jack's jaws.
"Then what did you do with her?" he inquired.
"Why we threw her carcass into the ocean.- Small pickings there for fishes, though."
Jack left the Sign of the Burning Pestle burning at his back, there on the coach road by the ocean.

XYRESIC: Means “razor-sharp.” That is a pretty great word. Zelazny’s writing is always pretty xyresic.

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