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The E-Sylum: Volume 4, Number 12, March 18, 2001, Article 9


Like I said, the smartypants answers are always the first to arrive. In response to the usage of the term "numismatic anguish", one anonymous wag writes:

"Perhaps the term "numismatic anguish" refers to the underbidder on a 1953-S Franklin half dollar selling for $69,000. ... or maybe it refers to the successful bidder."

Bill Bischoff writes:

"The current E-Sylum devotes considerable space to the topic of Nobel Prize-Winning numismatic authors. I would say T. Mommsen is the best answer, because he was a practicing numismatist as well as an historian, whereas Yeats was a poet who had an incidental, short-term encounter with numismatics.

As for Miguel Angel Asturias (not Asturio), who is quoted as saying, "This novel shares - consciously or unconsciously - the characteristics of the indigenous texts; their freshness and power, the numismatic anguish in the eyes of the Creoles who awaited the dawn in the colonial night, more luminous however than this night that threatens us now. Above all, it is the affirmation of the optimism of those writers that defied the Inquisition, opening a breach in the conscience of the people for the march of the Liberators."

The word "numismatic" is used incorrectly here, due either to the Nobel author's or the translator's inadequate command of English. The word "numismatic" in the quotation may be intended for "numinous" -- meaning that the Creoles in question feared for their very Being. But hey, at least the term wasn't "philatelic!"

[Editor's note: this is the best explanation I've heard yet (it's also the only one). But it seems to make sense. You know, the word "philatelist" sounds to me like it ought to mean "one who has gas"... as in "too many philatelists in a room make me feel numinous"]

Wayne Homren, Editor

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