The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Terrible learning, Mr. Newman

Correctly,—ah, but what is correctness in this case? This correctness of his is the very rock on which Mr. Newman has split. He is so correct that at last he finds peculiarity everywhere. The true knowledge of Homer becomes at last, in his eyes, a knowledge of Homer’s ‘peculiarities, pleasant and unpleasant.’ Learned men know these ‘peculiarities,’ and Homer is to be translated because the unlearned are impatient to know them too. ‘That,’ he exclaims, ‘is just why people want to read an English Homer,—to know all his oddities, just as learned men do.’ Here I am obliged to shake my head, and to declare that, in spite of all my respect for Mr. Newman, I cannot go these lengths with him. He talks of my ‘monomaniac fancy that there is nothing quaint or antique in Homer.’ Terrible learning,—I cannot help in my turn exclaiming,—terrible learning, which discovers so much!

—Matthew Arnold, On Translating Homer: Last Words


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