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United States: Essays 1952-1992 - Study Guide "On Prettiness" (1978) Summary & Analysis

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The Parting Years, one of Sir Cecil Beaton's diaries, records his quest for beauty in people, clothes, dycor, landscapes and manners. "To the extent that Sir Cecil falls short of beauty in his life and work, he is merely pretty," Vidal writes. "But that is not such a bad thing." Vidal instructs the reader that the word pretty made its way from the Old Teutonic pratti or pratta (meaning trick or wile) into English in the 15th Century. The word was wonderfully expressive and widely used until the late 1800s, when "pretty" became a pejorative adjective. Vidal, however, wants to bring it back in its original sense, which is how he uses it in this essay.

Vidal believes Beaton is at his best as a designer for the theater, where his sense of...

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This section contains 329 words
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Buy the United States: Essays 1952-1992 Study Guide
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