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AN Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition [Paperback]

James Lipton
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 7 1993

An "exaltation of larks"? Yes! And a "leap of leopards," a "parliament of owls," an "ostentation of peacocks," a "smack of jellyfish," and a "murder of crows"! For those who have ever wondered if the familiar "pride of lions" and "gaggle of geese" were only the tip of a linguistic iceberg, James Lipton has provided the definitive answer: here are hundreds of equally pithy, and often poetic, terms unearthed by Mr. Lipton in the Books of Venery that were the constant study of anyone who aspired to the title of gentleman in the fifteenth century. When Mr. Lipton's painstaking research revealed that five hundred years ago the terms of venery had already been turned into the Game of Venery, he embarked on an odyssey that has given us a "slouch of models," a "shrivel of critics," an "unction of undertakers," a "blur of Impressionists," a "score of bachelors," and a "pocket of quarterbacks." This ultimate edition of An Exaltation of Larks is Mr. Lipton's brilliant answer to the assault on language and literacy in the last decades of the twentieth century. In it you will find more than 1,100 resurrected or newly minted contributions to that most endangered of all species, our language, in a setting of 250 witty, beautiful, and remarkably apt engravings.


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About the Author

James Lipton is the creator, executive producer, writer, and host of Inside the Actors Studio, which is seen in eighty-nine million homes in America on the Bravo network, and in 125 countries, and has received fourteen Emmy nominations. He is the author of the novel Mirrors, which he then adapted and produced for the screen, and of the American literary perennial An Exaltation of Larks, and has written the book and lyrics of two Broadway musicals. His television productions include Jimmy Carter’s Inaugural Gala, the first presidential concert ever televised; twelve Bob Hope birthday specials, reaching record-breaking audiences; and The Road to China, the first American entertainment program from the People’s Republic. He is a vice president of the Actors Studio, is the founder and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, has received three honorary PhDs, is a recipient of France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Emmy by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

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First Sentence
Most introductory chapters are written in the well-grounded expectation that they will be blithely ignored. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brouse of Readers.. Nov. 8 2003
Format:Paperback
This is simply a wonderful book that you should have on your shelf.Lipton did a pile (there,s gotta be a better word) of work coming up with the source of many of these words.When one doesn't exist;his off-the-wall mind creates one.
Just a few gems:
An Advance of Authors
A Royalty of best-selling Authors
An Engima of Mystery Writrs
A Bosum of Romance Writers
A Blizzard of Quotes
A Tedium of Footnotes
A Providence of Publishers
THis ought to wet your appetite..but how come no word for a collection of bibliophiles . Is a Reading of Books legit for a bunch of books?
Maybe you get the point;it's great fun to come up with your own.
By the way;we know about puns,aphorisms,maxims,and so on,but what is the term for these 'collection' words?
You gotta get this book ,learn a few new ones every day,make up new ones,drive everyone around you bonkers,or even worse,have them imitating you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid curiosity July 1 2002
Format:Paperback
James Lipton's "An Exaltation of Larks" is a splendid curiosity and a must for any etymology lover's bookshelf. In it, Lipton gathers together virtually every known existing grouping phrase (as in a murder of crows, a leap of leopards, and, naturally, an exaltation of larks) and even admits to adding a few of his own--ones which he felt ought to be in use, even if they weren't already. The result is exhilarating good fun.
A few of the choicer phrases are shown below, although of course it's difficult to pick out just a few gems when there is a treasure trove within these covers:
A rash of dermatologists;
A pound of Englishmen;
A solidarity of Poles;
An outback of Aussies;
A quicksand of credit cards;
A thrill of brides;
A convulsion of belly dancers;
An insanity of clauses.
Lipton gives all sorts of fascinating background on the existing phrases and provides many good reasons for the ones he makes up. The result is a hoot, and lots of fun to read aloud to your friends and family. Accompanying the text are superb, crisp old engravings of everything under the sun, each appropriate to the particular section in which it appears (sections include "Romance and Raunch," "People, Places & Things," "The Unknown," "The Unexpected," "Professions," and more). "An Exaltation of Larks" is the perfect gift for the word-lover who has everything else.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Delight of Words April 4 2001
Format:Paperback
Here's a real gem! AN EXALTATION OF LARKS (Ultimate Edition) is the culmination of more than two decades of Lipton's research of "nouns of multitude," which he prefers to call "terms of venery."
Many of these terms are commonplace: plague of locusts, pride of lions, litter of pups. Imagine, though, hearing these expressions for the first time. Lipton invites us to "sharpen our senses by restoring the magic to the mundane."
Lipton traced a number of these terms back to the 1400s, specifically to THE BOOK OF ST. ALBANS, printed in 1486. In addition to today's ordinary terms, he discovered some that had a fresh sound, precisely because they had not made the 500-year journey to our modern era.
Lipton identifies six sources of inspiration for the terms. He lists these "Families" with the following examples:
1. Onomatopoeia: a murmuration of starlings, a gaggle of geese.
2. Characteristic (by far the largest Family): a leap of leopards, a skulk of foxes.
3. Appearance: a knot of toads, a parliament of owls.
4. Habitat: a shoal of bass, a nest of rabbits.
5. Comment (pro or con depending on viewpoint): a richness of martens, a cowardice of curs.
6. Error (in transcription or printing; sometimes preserved for centuries): "school" of fish was originally intended to be "shoal."
Lipton enthusiastically joined the "game" of coining terms, which had been in progress for more than 500 years. In 1968 he published his first EXALTATION OF LARKS, which contained 175 terms -- some from Middle English, some original. Neither the hardbound nor the paperback edition went out of print before the Ultimate Edition (with more than 1,000 terms) was published in 1991.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Celebration of English March 11 1999
Format:Paperback
Why do English speakers say, "A pack of dogs" when refering to a number of dogs together, but always refer to puppies as "a litter of puppies"? Is it the random quirkiness of our spoken language?
Would you believe such sayings have a tangible history, and have been planned?
This is the topic of James Lipton's sometimes humorous but always classic book, An Exaltation of Larks. If you've ever the privledge of watching the actor's studio, then you know of James Lipton--one of television's finest interviews and hosts.
In 1968, he wrote a book about the beauty and flexibility of the English language called an Exaltation of Larks. It is a study of the English-speaking tradition of coupling words to describe a set, where both words indicate the same thing, such as "a rope of pearls" and "a school of fish."
For the first part of the book, Mr. Lipton list the more common phrases and the research that has gone into finding out their meaning--where, for instance, "a pride of lions" originated and how long ago it was first used. (The oldest in the English langauge, apparently!)
Where the 1968 edition--which has never been out of print--had only had 118 pages and 175 terms, the Ultimate edition has 300 pages and 1,100 terms.
This would make a very fine gift for any Anglophile, artist, writer or comic. Witty, warm, and extremely observant, with clever line illustrations; a plus to any friend's library or your own.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An exaltation of larks
The new version of this book now has an index, with the ability to enter the names given to groups
This feature was absent from the old version
This latest version has... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Hans Bauer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference book
This is great for someone who loves the English language - not only full of information, but really fun to look at and pick up from time to time.
Published on Nov. 30 2011 by Joanne Iliopoulos
5.0 out of 5 stars You can learn so much
mr. Liton was my acting coach when I lived in New York. I was studying to be a methodist actor. That's when you become the character. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by monkeytot
4.0 out of 5 stars fun for wordsmiths
This is a great book for those who love words. I ordered it because I was fascinated with the fact that a group of ravens is called a "murder. Read more
Published on June 19 2003 by Elise Paxson
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton ( the 1968 Edition)
This book is absolutely fascinating, and I thought it would by out of print by now. I am thrilled that there is a new updated version, and am going to order two copies; one for us... Read more
Published on March 9 2002 by Daphne W Cheatham
5.0 out of 5 stars nice powder room reading
If you have reluctant young readers it the house, buy this book and put it in the bath room or lay it on the cereal table. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2001 by The Accidental Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars surprizingly ...
of all the books i own (and that/s quite a lot), my evil nemesis, upon moving in, found this book and has spent the last few days raving abt how great it is. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2000 by Richard W. Martin
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