multiverse
Posted: 10 June 2017 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m reading Saul Bellow’s 1953 novel The Adventures of Augie March and was surprised to encounter the word multiverse in this passage:

I’ve never gone through a place like Racine without thinking which house with the rubber-tire swing for kids and piano-practicing inside was like Stiva Lausch’s, who had two daughters brought up with every refinement, including piano lessons, and how such little-speaking Odessa-bred sons had gotten on a track like this through the multiverse.

Brave New World (the OUP sf dictionary) has its first cite from 1963, and I’m wondering what the online OED has, assuming they include it by now.  (I’m also wondering if Bellow might have changed the text for a later edition, since Google Books provides no access to the original one.)

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Posted: 10 June 2017 08:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The OED has two senses for the word. The first is “the universe considered as lacking order or a single ruling and guiding power.” This sense was coined by William James in 1895. I’m guessing the Bellow usage fits this sense. It seems to, but I can’t be sure without more context for the quote.

The second is the SF/cosmological sense, with a first cite from 1963 Michael Moorcock’s SF Adventures, but not the same cite given in Brave New World; it’s from the same issue of the magazine, so it’s not an antedating, just a different quotation. The OED entry predates BNW by four years.

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Posted: 11 June 2017 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Interesting, many thanks!  I hadn’t been aware of the first sense.  (I don’t think more context would make any difference with the Bellow.)

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