Someone's mention of Gormenghast reminded me that I didn't especially like Titus Groan (the first book) but that it did contain one of my favorite paragraphs/exchanges. Some day I'll get around to reading the second and third books, for cultural-literacy purposes even if I don't actually enjoy them. Anyway, here's the quote, Steerpike flattering Clarice and Cora Groan:
'Glorious,' said Steerpike, 'is a dictionary word. We are all imprisoned by the dictionary. We choose out of that vast, paper-walled prison our convicts, the little black printed words, when in truth we need fresh sounds to utter, new enfranchised noises which would produce a new effect. In dead and shackled language, my dears, you are glorious, but oh, to give vent to a brand new sound that might convince you of what I really think of you, as you sit there in your purple splendor, side by side! But no, it is impossible. Life is too fleet for onomatopoeia. Dead words defy me. I can make no sound, dear ladies, that is apt.'
'You could try,' said Clarice. 'We aren't busy.'
—Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, p. 305 of the most common paperback edition