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What is the literal and figurative meaning of "turgid" in this extract from the chapter...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 9, 2013 at 4:52 PM via web

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What is the literal and figurative meaning of "turgid" in this extract from the chapter VI of The Great Gatsby?

The none too savory ramifications by which Ella Kaye, the newspaper woman, played Madame de Maintenon to his weakness and sent him to sea in a yacht, were common knowledge to the turgid journalism of 1902. 



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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 9, 2013 at 5:45 PM (Answer #1)

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Literally, "turgid" means to be filled to bursting with water or some other liquid. A balloon, for instance, might be filled to the point of turgidity with water by a child. In this context, however the word takes on a different meaning. "Turgid" in this sense means to be full of hot air, or something close to "bombastic." In the context of the quote, it carries connotations of sensationalism or bluster. The salacious story described here is from the past of Cody, the mining magnate who served as a role model to a young Gatsby. Apparently several women had tried to get their hands on Cody's millions, and the "turgid" press of the day, interested in screaming headlines about personal foibles rather than responsible journalism, latched on to it. 


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