Word + Quiz: querulous

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Word + Quiz: querulous

: habitually complaining

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The word querulous has appeared in nine articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on July 23 in the book review “A Stubborn and Sturdy Love in the Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald” by Parul Sehgal:

Various versions of the couple’s letters have been published over the years, but “Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda” claims to contain the fullest collection of Zelda’s side of the correspondence. The editors, Jackson R. Bryer and Cathy W. Barks, write that “the new letters, placed chronologically with those collected previously, allow us to view their relationship in a more evenhanded manner than heretofore has been possible.”

… This collection has been marshaled with the hope of rehabilitating Scott’s reputation, to portray him as a victim, too — of his alcoholism — and as more supportive of Zelda than commonly believed. The editors and the Fitzgeralds’ granddaughter Eleanor Lanahan, who contributes an introduction, want absolution for Scott, but where is he in this book? His letters are wan and few compared to Zelda’s, often dictated to a secretary. He was never a dazzling letter writer — far too querulous and carping and always, you sense, warming up to ask for a loan. His correspondence, Gore Vidal once said, ought to be preserved, not published.


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