On July 11, 1960, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published for the first time. Given its place in American literature and its widespread use in schools and classrooms, it’s almost hard to believe that there is hardly any constructive literary analysis of the book from the time of its publication. Apparently, at the time, many critics thought Lee’s novel was fairly picayune. If only they had the foresight to know what an incredible force it would become.
Adjective; from Dictionary.com:
1. Of little value or account; small, trifling
2. Petty or prejudiced
From my perspective, Madame Brassart lacked professional experience, was a terrible administrator, and tangled herself up in picayune details and petty politics. (My Life in France, Julia Child)
Originally, picayune was more commonly used as a noun; in its noun form, the word refers to a small coin most likely worth five cents or less. Coming into English from French (specifically Louisiana French and Provencal), eventually picayune developed as an adjective. Since the coin was small and relatively worthless, the adjective form of the word refers to something that is small or of little value. (I am endlessly delighted by the fact that Julia Child uses a French origin word in her book about cooking in French. I have no idea if it was an intentional inclusion, but it’s a little detail that makes me smile.)
Your turn, bookworms – do you include picayune opinions about specific books in your reviews, or do you try to stick to the important stuff?
[Photo Credit: Google Images]