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Things to do with literature

03.06.01

People sat or sprawled on the lawns, soaking in the sunshine or lolling in the shade. I, meanwhile, was content to walk along the river bank and admire the scene, the hum of bees, &c. The rest of the morning passed amid thoughts of the ancient Greek aristocracy, kaloikagathoi, the beautiful and the good. Have […]

19.10.01 – Friday

compare Scrutinizing my recent reading and find that I’ve been spending far too much time ambling through modern literature — which would, I suppose, be acceptable if I were reading Proust or Eliot or some other frightfully clever & dreadfully important authors, but I’m not — I’m reading the squabblers, with personalities more interesting than […]

Incomplete Associations (Latin)

The prose of Cicero is a ripened plum, the dusky purple austerity concealing a rich and summery sweetness. The lines of Ovid are a silver ring; of Horace, a poet’s faded crown, gone gray and dusty down the centuries. Yet Vergil’s lines are as a shepherd’s staff, for cudgeling foes or correcting friends. The works […]

Incomplete Associations (Greek)

The fragments of Sappho flutter like a silken ribbon caught in thorny centuries. Herodotus is the sound of nodding asleep amid the low murmur of unuttered secrets and improbable truths. The dialogues of Plato are a sly glance between clever friends. Thucydides marshals his words, setting them in trim, ordered lines, bristling and iron-edged. The […]

the end of English letters

April 9 [1937]: VirginiaWoolf’s The Years and F. Tennyson Jesse’s A Pine to See the Peep Show read at once—what with rain and fairies and walloping bells at Oxford and Missie dying of love for Teacher with a dash of beans and fish with the lower middle class—impress one again with the constipation of English […]

now that’s quality

Having finished reading Randall Jarrell’s1 first novel, Pictures from an Institution (1954),2 I now understand why people go ga-ga for Kerouac: general American fiction of the 1950s was rotten.3 Take offense if you will, but I stand by my statement. When seen against the backdrop of such insipid, feeble prose as Jarrell’s, where flashes of […]

Citation (7)

T.E. Hulme pontificates…

Anxiety of Influence (i): Laurence Sterne

in which the author babbles about Tristram Shandy.

pseudaphoristica (1)

heart of darkness.

revilement

It bodes no good to identify with the mother in Sons and Lovers.

Note

After reading Adam Bede and Paul Clifford I think it’s safe to say that Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a really good book.

An Errant Academic

I mentioned Seth Lerer’s Error and the Academic Self more than a month ago and, having finally finished reading it, there are a few more comments I would like to make. To begin, though, with a summary: errô, errare, erravi, erratus – to wander, to go astray, to err. The record of scholarship, particularly of […]

at the circumlocution office

How to evade the tendency to view an individual life as somehow symbolic or representative of the lives of an entire group of people (or subculture); for instance: repressed homosexuality (‘abnormal sexual desires’) the root of all Corvo’s problems according to

poena sine fine

After reading Donna Wilson’s Ransom, Revenge, and Heroic Identity in the ‘Iliad’ (based on the dissertation she prepared for the University of Texas, Austin) the largest question I have for the author concerns her relationship with her father. Her discussion of the character of reparation in the Iliad emphasizes the role of the father in […]

heptaphyllon

by way of explanation.

de pumilis libellis

…by falsifying him into something monstrously charming and extraordinary they hope to be able to keep him alive forever. — Pär Lagerkvist (2002.47, p. 159) Owing to my best efforts to keep an open mind and my almost miraculous attempts to overcome my aversion for the word ‘snark’ and most people who use it, the […]

Citation (16)

the author disinterested in finances…

the mind diseased

Modern Greece, in history and literature, has been viewed as a transitory moment squeezed between two larger and more important entities. Viewed chronologically, modern Greece rests between the glory of the classical Greek past and the hope of a resurrected Greek future, which in many Western minds ought to resemble the democracies of Western Europe […]

The Sacred Font

and other puzzles

literary virtues

I ordered the book from the library after reading a quotation from it somewhere on the internet. I don’t remember my source, which is probably just as well; I had also heard the author mentioned favorably, and thought I might as well take a look. The book arrived and, as usual, I judged it by […]

dialogue in solitude

Once again, why Spinoza? When I was talking to Dime T. from Ohrid, Macedonia, one afternoon about parapsychology, he asked me: ‘Why do you think you are writing about Spinoza?’ Had it been a conversation with a philosopher, I would have said something like: ‘Because of his unique philosophy, because of his divergence from Descartes’ […]

Citation (34)

When you reached your goal, you were locked in again, each having first been handed a small piece of paper, the size of two railway tickets. (At the Lubyanka this was not particularly interesting. The paper was blank and white. But there were enticing prisons where they gave you pages of books – and what […]

substantiation

I was almost exactly halfway through Céleste Albaret’s recollections of Monsieur Proust when I realized I had erred in the matter of genre. I had supposed it was merely a servant’s memoir of her eccentric employer. Given the pains she takes to clarify her stances on her employer (not crazy, not malingering, not a bit […]

2666

‘Ejemplar Acontecimiento! Un Espiritu maligno en figura de mujer bonita’ (cf.) The style was strange. The writing was clear and sometimes even transparent, but the way the stories followed on after another didn’t lead anywhere: all that was left were the children, their parents, the animals, some neighbors, and in the end, all that was […]

in a style to endure

In the world of literature and art, Goldsmith and Johnson had gone; Cowper was not yet much known; the most prominent poets were Hayley and Darwin; the most distinguished prose-writer, Gibbon. […] Miss Burney, afterwards Madame D’Arblay, surprised the reading world with her entertaining, but somewhat vulgar novels; and Mrs. Inchbald, Mrs. Charlotte Smith, and […]

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