Vocabulary in The Author to Her Book

Vocabulary Examples in The Author to Her Book :

The Author to Her Book 9

"vulgars ..."   (The Author to Her Book)

With a book so flawed and unrefined, the speaker insinuates that its readers must be “vulgars,” or people lacking sophistication or taste. As such, the book is doomed to “roam,” or circulate, around a lower echelon of readers since people of finer sophistication would be quick to notice its flaws or failings.

"trim..."   (The Author to Her Book)

This is another example of double meaning. In the practice of sewing, the verb “to trim” means to apply ornament or embellishment to either clothing or furniture. When applying this meaning to writing, to trim a book may mean to add further ornamental detail or language. From this line, we see that the author had wished to “trim” her book in better dress, or to add further detail before publication, but was prohibited from doing so.

"amend..."   (The Author to Her Book)

The verb to amend means to make changes or improvements, often within a written text. Its use here is yet another example of language that can be used to refer to a book and to a child. In this context, the speaker aims to amend the already-published text in much the same way as one would attempt to clean a grubby child. However, the book is already published, and the speaker finds her attempts ultimately fruitless.

"visage..."   (The Author to Her Book)

The noun visage is a person’s face or facial features. The use of visage here describes the ‘face’ of the book as irksome, meaning irritating or annoying to its author. Thus, while this line uses older Elizabethan vocabulary, its meaning is relatively simple: the book is irritating to look at for the author. We may deduce from earlier lines that this irritation is due to its perceived imperfections or flaws, which causes the author to recoil from it in disgust. This line furthers the exasperated tone of the speaker as one disgusted by the flawed product of her own making, thus unfit or unready for release into the outside world.

"rags..."   (The Author to Her Book)

The word “rags” here has a deliberate double meaning. First, it literally describes clothes, illustrating the book (“child”) as poorly dressed and ill kept. In addition, rags also serves as a wordplay on the book-publishing industry—more specifically, on the quality of printing paper, which was referred to as “rag content.”’ In Elizabethan times, cotton rags were the principal material used in the book-making process. Paper with a high-rag content had a higher ratio of cotton fiber to pulp, and therefore the clothing was of better quality.

"brat..."   (The Author to Her Book)

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the noun “brat” was used to refer to a child that was insignificant or of questionable parentage. It was generally used to show contempt for the child.

"rags..."   (The Author to Her Book)

In the era in which Bradstreet wrote, every-day clothing was generally made in the home instead of bought at a store. It was a mother’s job to dress her family and keep them warm. Here, the speaker dresses her metaphorical child in “rags,” or threadbare clothing that has been tattered by overuse and time. The disheveled appearance of this child would reflect badly on the mother tasked with clothing it; in other words, the rags are a sign of the speaker’s failures as a mother.

"thee..."   (The Author to Her Book)

The pronouns “thee” and “thou” are archaic forms of singular “you” that showed familiarity or a close, personal relationship between two people. Notice that the speaker addresses her book with this pronoun to show their familiarity even though she seems to have cast it aside.

"friends, less wise than true,..."   (The Author to Her Book)

Notice the forgiving tone with which Bradstreet introduces this betrayal. She calls the people who took her work from her “friends” and characterizes their decision as “less wise than true.” This phrase suggests that they took her work because they were unwise or foolish, not because they had truly malicious intentions. While a modern reader might see “snatched” as connoting violence or stealing, the word in Bradstreet’s time meant obtained in a hasty manner. This original definition builds on the idea that these “friends” took the manuscript hurriedly, without thinking; it suggests carelessness rather than malevolence.