l'esprit de l'escalier




  • Borrowed from French esprit de l'escalier, with the definite article le at the beginning of the term elided to l'. It refers to a description of the phenomenon in the essay Paradoxe sur le comédien (Paradox of the Actor, completed 1778 and published 1830) by the French encyclopedist and philosopher Denis Diderot (1713–1784). During a dinner at the home of the statesman Jacques Necker (1732–1804), Diderot was left speechless by a remark made to him. He wrote: '''' (“a sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument levelled against him, becomes confused and can only think clearly again at the bottom of the stairs”), that is, when one is already on the way out of the house.

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