Keep the Aspidistra Flying

I’m fairly certain I came across the word, “aspidistra” for the first time while reading Mark Twain. There’s also a George Orwell tale that goes by the name of “Keep the Aspidistra Flying,” which I believe to be a quote from Twain, also from a music hall tune of the same name.

Aspidistra became a ubiquitous house plant among working class Victorians because it can thrive in low light and because it tolerates the fumes of gas lights and gas heating much better than most other potted plants. Aspidistra thus became a symbol for dull, middle class values and propriety, particularly in Great Britain.

It’s a pretty, hardy plant, but I enjoy the word because the name is playful and fun to say. One of my characters, at some point, is going to use it in a personal expostulation, along the lines of, “My blessed aspidistra!”

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2 comments on “Keep the Aspidistra Flying

  1. Oh, how I love new words!! Each time I see one here, I try to use it at work. Confuses the heinous of my dispatchers!!