Everybody Ejaculates

"Climactic Literature," a literary supercut by Tom Comitta

Everybody Ejaculates

If you read almost any pre-WWI novel, you’ll find liberal use of the word “ejaculated” in moments of intense dialogue. Prior to the early 1900s, authors often used it to denote an exclamation; in the words of the OED, to ejaculate can mean “to utter suddenly.” This literary supercut repurposes these sudden utterances from 35 novels including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Riders of the Purple Sage.

Climactic Literature: A Literary Supercut           

“Oh, Jem!” Jane ejaculated.

“Ah!” ejaculated Grace.

“Humph!” ejaculated Mrs. Thorne.

“Humph!” ejaculated Chet’s mother.

“Dolly!” ejaculated Mrs. Boncassen. “She’s a woman, through and through, if ever thar was one.”

“She is,” ejaculated Keith, looking meditatively at the stove.

“Very glad, very glad!” she ejaculated.

“Good lord!” ejaculated the old man, sitting down feebly and staring.

“Brian!” ejaculated the banker. (The clerk ejaculated the length of his toothpick.)

“Me?” ejaculated the Society Editor, disdainfully.

“As sure as I’m in this room!” he ejaculated.

“But—me!” ejaculated Victor, rolling his eyes upwards in astonishment.

“Confusion!” ejaculated Piers.

“It was a confession,” I ejaculated.

“Heaven give me patience!” ejaculated Penrose.

“Never!” ejaculated Hippy fervently.

“Never!” ejaculated Pendry and Mail together, Tonkin smoking in silence.

Phillip gasped and stared in amazement. “Dondersteen!” he ejaculated loudly, and nearly dropped his half-conscious and swaying burden on the ground.

“What’s that?” ejaculated Joseph Stagg in a sharp tone.

“A comet of gold!” ejaculated the captain. “Thatsh good!”

Freddie nearly rolled out of his chair.

The father of Samoylov threw himself back, and ejaculated broken words behind his wife’s ear. The mother ejaculated in a sudden burst of excitement; she minded less his somewhat rude ejaculation: “Ho! Ho! South! South! The vervloekte Keerl! the plepshurk! the smeerlap!”

“What on earth does this mean?” I ejaculated.

“Can’t you see with your own eyes?” he ejaculated, attempting to walk on.

“Ha!” ejaculated the old lady.

“Hum!” ejaculated Mr. Stagg.

“O Lord!” ejaculated Titmouse, involuntarily, and almost unconsciously, staring stupidly at Gammon. Mr. Gammon soon felt the presence of his secret.

“Lord, Mr. Gammon!” ejaculated Titmouse, passing his hand hastily over his damp forehead—his agitation visibly increasing. Gammon gazed at him for a moment with fury; and “Good thunder!” they ejaculated.

“Great God!” ejaculated the others.

Dinmont at length got up, and, having shaken his huge dreadnought greatcoat, as a Newfoundland dog does his shaggy hide when he comes out of the water, ejaculated. The Little Russian ejaculated. Aunt Nettie, of course, ejaculated, “goodness gracious!” and laughed.

Ben Zoof broke out into the most vehement ejaculations.

“Gentle!” ejaculated Bartlemy, the artist, with profound conviction.

“He’s our little pet,” said Rob. “Come here, Ben, dear. Ben Zoof!” he called aloud.

“Ben who?” inquired the major.

“Zoof! Ben Zoof!” ejaculated Servadac, who could scarcely shout loud enough to relieve his pent-up feelings. "That's our—our nice—gentle—oh, dear me!—our nice, gentle, old Ben.”

“Well, this is a pretty piece of business!” ejaculated Marilla.

“Incredible!” ejaculated the colonel.

“Incredible!” echoed the major. But of a sudden he ejaculated. “God bless my soul!” ejaculated that startled gentleman adventurer, and collapsed onto a settee as if his legs had been mown from under him.

“Holy cats!” he ejaculated.

“Brother!” ejaculated the other.

“Bless my soul!” ejaculated the landlord, in bewilderment. “Where did he come from?”

“Bless me! Yes!” ejaculated the hardware man finally.

“Humph!” ejaculated the hardware dealer again.

“Eh wow! Eh wow!” ejaculated the honest farmer, as he looked round upon his friend’s miserable apartment and wretched accommodation—“What’s this o’t! what’s this o’t!” he ejaculated.

The place was, in fact, becoming less tenable. Members of the congregation were interjecting, “Glory Hallelujah!” “Praise be His Name!” and the other worshipful ejaculations which make a sort of running accompaniment on such occasions.

“Great Heavens above!” ejaculated Piers.

“Heaven be praised!” ejaculated the captain, and he went on in the tones of a keen excitement.

The Dominie groaned deeply, and ejaculated.

At this unexpected and involuntary explosion of his weapon, the Dominie exclaimed, “Prodigious!” which is his usual ejaculation when astonished. “Great God!” ejaculated the others, but “Pro-di-gi-ous!” was the only ejaculation they ever extorted from the much-enduring man. This escaped my notice at the time, you may easily believe; but in talking over the scene afterwards, Hazlewood made us very merry with Dominie’s ignorant but zealous valor.

The good Dominie uttered his usual ejaculation of “Prodigious!” and then strode back to his post.

Hazlewood seconded him with great spirit. “Oh, your Excellency,” ejaculated the orderly, “look there! look there!” Then pointed to a table, upon which was some cold meat, and a spirit lamp, and a captain of the 8th Artillery & two officers who had presumed to do their duty.

Hazlewood longed to accompany the military. The Dominie looked upon him with that sort of surprise with which we can conceive a tame bear might regard his future associate, the monkey, on their being first introduced to each other. Sir Robert Hazlewood was rather puzzled at this intimation. “Please!” he ejaculated.

But the other heeded not, and with head thrown back against the wall, and brawny chest expanded, almost drowned the rest of the voices by his marvellous roars. Then with an ejaculation of “Here goes!” he jumped over the intervening crack of space and landed in the middle of us like a sack of coal. Had I not been seated really I think he would have knocked me off the rock.

“Cursed friar!” I ejaculated mentally.

“Well, I never!” ejaculated Abner Balberry.

“For Heaven’s sake!” ejaculated Aunt Nettie. “Thanks to the saints no further harm was done,” ejaculated the old lady shuddering. And with this compassionate ejaculation, she retreated into her own premises. (No wonder the girls ejaculated at her smartness.)

The good Dominie stretched out with a murmur of relief and comfort. The ground felt like the softest couch. “Hullo!” he ejaculated softly.

“You!” ejaculated Halicarnassus, contemptuously.

“The devil!” ejaculated Pritchen.

As for the Dominie, my father took an opportunity of begging to exchange snuff-boxes with him. The honest gentleman was much flattered with the proposal, extolled the beauty of his snuff-box excessively, smiled at the snuff box fondly, caressing it with his finger.

My father looked at him again. “This snuff box, to which so great a value is attached!  How did you get such a… Gold!” he ejaculated, but the Dominie made no answer.

Peter meanwhile was looking at the snuffbox, which the priest still held in his hand, and admiring its brave repoussé work of leaves and flowers, and the escutcheon engraved on the lid. “My that’s fine!” he ejaculated, wiping the perspiration from his forehead with the sleeve of his coat.

The Dominie groaned. “Wait. I'll tell you the whole story. You shall see for yourself.”

“Go on,” ejaculated Tregear.

"Yes, yes, yes,” cried Tinfoil, "where did you get such a thing as this?”

“Oh!” I cried.

The Duchessa’s eyes were intent. “The story—? Tell me the story,” she pronounced in a breath, with imperious eagerness.

He told his story accordingly, often interrupted by ejaculations.

Source texts in order of appearance:

In the Closed Room by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Grace Harlowe's First Year at Overton College by Jessie Graham Flower
Esther by Rosa Nouchette Carey
Carolyn of the Corners by Ruth Belmore Endicott
The Duke’s Children by Antholy Trollope
The Frontiersman by H. A. Cody
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Woven with the Ship by Cyrus Townsend Brady
The Re-Creation of Brian Kent by Harold Bell Wright
I Walked in Arden by Jack Crawford
Missy By Dana Gatlin
From Farm To Fortune, Or, Nat Nason's Strange Experience by Horatio Alger, Jr.
The Bars of Iron by Ethel May Dell
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Bernard Brooks’ Adventure by Horatio Alger, Jr.
The Adventures of Dick Trevanion by Herbert Strang
The Land of Joy by Ralph Henry Barbour
The Laughing Cavalier by Baroness Orczy
Off on a Comet or Hectory Servadac by Jules Verne
The Little Warrior by P. G. Wodehouse
Mother by Maksim Gorky
Grisly Grisell by Charlotte M. Yonge
The Laughing Cavalier by Baroness Orczy
Gala-Days by Gail Hamilton
Ten Thousand a-Year: Volume 3 by Samuel Warren
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott
The Little Grey House by Marion Ames Taggart
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Hilda Lessways by Arnold Bennett
When the World Shook by H. Rider Haggard
A Christian Woman by Emilia Pardo Bazán
The Ivory Snuff Box by Arnold Fredericks
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
The Cardinal’s Snuff-Box by Henry Harland

More Like This

7 Novels that Defined the Obama Era

Andrew Ridker, author of "Hope," recommends books that capture the cultural moment of Obama’s America

Sep 21 - Andrew Ridker

Even the Smartest Phone Can’t Find Water in a Desert

"Find Water Near Me," a short story by Jessie Ren Marshall

Aug 23 - Jessie Ren Marshall

If You Give the Job Your Heart and Soul, You Might Lose Both

Ben Purkert’s novel "The Men Can’t Be Saved" incisively portrays the ways toxic masculinity pervades in capitalist spaces

Aug 4 - Jacqueline Alnes
Thank You!