at the edge between where language fails and where it’s at its most powerful

I think the names of colors are at the edge between where language fails and where it’s at its most powerful. … I used to go round the department when I was teaching at UCL, when I was writing Still Life, and try out not the big color words but the little color words. There’s a particular very subtle English language expert and I would say to her, If I put in malachite, what do you see? She’d say, I haven’t the slightest idea, and she didn’t know what ocher was, or gamboge, or viridian. Those people who do will have a completely different experience of what I’ve written from those who don’t.

A.S. Byatt

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