Palimpsest (
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rick green 6th Aug 2005 0:07

I found a palimpsest
I've recently come across the word twice in two different books. Maybe it would be fun to post any passages we find that use it.


Henceforth this was what I wanted to discover: the authentic being, “the old Adam” whom the Gospels no longer accepted; the man whom everything around me—books, teachers, family and I myself—had tried from the first to suppress. And I had already glimpsed him, faint, obscured by their encrustations, but all the more valuable, all the more urgent. I scorned henceforth the secondary, learned being whom education had pasted over him. Such husks must be stripped away.
And I would compare myself to a palimpsest; I shared the thrill of the scholar who beneath more recent script discovers, on the same paper, an infinitely more precious ancient text.
This is from Gide, The Immoralist, p. 51


"This country is a palimpsest, in which the Bible is written over Herodotus, and the Koran over that."
--Lady Duff Gordan: Letters from Egypt
This is from Alan Moorhead, The Blue Nile, epigraph to ch. 7.

I guess this will be a pretty quiet thread. Besides these two occurrences, I don't think I've seen the word in any of the books I've read over the past year or more.

Colyngbourne 7th Aug 2005 19:28

I read it in one of my summer hol read this last fortnight but I'm blowed if I can remember which and I'm not bothering to hunt. I think there's a thread somewhere where we had found a few, including the original for the site (from The Name of the Rose).

Lucoid 8th Aug 2005 14:33

I spotted one somewhere recently but can't remember where, though I think it's one that has been mentioned in another thread.

Stewart 8th Aug 2005 14:37

I spotted it in Perdido Street Station - what a crappy book. :x

Digger 10th Aug 2005 15:10

I get to use it for work in my reports lots, because archaeology is frequently a palimpsest! :D

Lucoid 11th Aug 2005 14:11

I wonder how may archaeologists wander in here by mistake, attracted by the name that's so pertinent to their career.

jim 11th Aug 2005 19:31

It definitely cropped up in Middlesex (the book rather than the county).

John Self 11th Aug 2005 19:35

You just back from hols, jim? Haven't seen you around for a bit.

Lucoid 12th Aug 2005 14:22


Originally Posted by jim
It definitely cropped up in Middlesex (the book rather than the county).

Ah, that'll be it. Ta!

jim 12th Aug 2005 17:00


Originally Posted by John Self
You just back from hols, jim? Haven't seen you around for a bit.

Yes. Still on holiday but at home this week.

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