James Wolcott, Vanity Fair culture critic, wrote a piece on the HBO series True Detective, including the following segment:

What lifts creator Nic Pizzolatto's show above the misabilerist monotony and addiction pathology of Nordic noir and its derivatives is Proustian time-shifting, sharp, sneaky-funny writing, and even sharper, sneaky acting from Matthew McConaughey, whose detective Rush Cohle is so stick-figure insectile, his man-who-fell-to-earth alienation and perceptions ("I can smell the psychosphere") so cryptic and deflective, that he could have come across as a David Lynch scarecrow if it weren't for the real, ground-in, damaged-goods pain that McConaughey communicates on a deeper frequency, between cigarette drags and beer sips: a redneck existentialism that Flannery O'Connor might have summoned from beneath the rotting floorboards.

I've been looking for a definition of "misabilerist" or a different with the same root, and I can't find anything. Is this most likely just a misspelling of "miserabilist" or is it a real word? Or, considering Wolcott's pension for esoteric language, is it a play on words or subtle reference?

2 Answers 2


Likely a typo of miserabilist

  • a person who appears to enjoy being depressed, esp a performer of or listener to gloomy music.

The use of this term has been increasing in the last decades, as shown in Ngram.


I think there's a spelling mistake. It should be miserabilist which means the one who is unhappy. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/miserabilist

  • I suppose that makes the most sense. Wolcott uses such wandering prose, though, that I assumed I was missing something.
    – tylerharms
    May 25, 2014 at 18:39

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