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Words mean what they’re generally believed to mean. When Charles II saw Christopher Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral for the first time, he called it “awful, pompous, and artificial.” Meaning roughly: Awesome, majestic, and ingenious.

– S. M. Stirling

Comments

  1. #1 alias Ernest Major
    April 28, 2008

    An earlier version of this quote forms the first and last paragraphs of Poul Anderson’s “A Tragedy of Errors”.

    “Once in ancient days, the then King of England told Sir Christopher Wren, whose name is yet remembered, that the new Cathedral of St. Paul which he had designed was ‘awful, pompous, and artificial.’ Kings have seldom been noted for perspicacity.

    In the case of the king and Sir Christopher a compliment was intended. A later era would have used the words “awe-inspiring, stated, and ingeniously contrived.”

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