playing sortes virgilianae with Middlemarch…
from The Book of the Knight of La Tour-Landry…
Essays in Idleness…
from the Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké…
Anna Comnena on the character of a good leader…
T.E. Hulme pontificates…
from Tamburlaine the Great…
political advice from Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis…
a glimpse in the mirror.
the cunning Manager.
notions and scruples.
the character of a historian.
I shall say but little at present of their Learning, which for many Ages hath flourished in all its Branches among them: But their Manner of Writing is very peculiar; being neither from the Left to the Right, like the Europeans; nor from the Right to the Left, like the Arabians; nor from up to […]
the author disinterested in finances…
adventurous students always read classics.
athletes and academics.
a love-song, a love-song.
…for certainly Life is so Pretious, as it ought not to be Ventured, where there is no Honour to be Gain’d in the Hazard, for Death seems Terrible, I am sure it doth to Me, there is nothing I Dread more than Death, I do not mean the Strokes of Death, nor the Pains, but […]
marks of the excellent man.
modesty & the art of pronunciation.
language strata at high table.
I was sitting on the side of my bed in my pyjamas, thinking about getting up, but not yet committed. I didn’t feel very well, but I didn’t feel as sick as I ought to, not as sick as I would feel if I had a salaried job. My head hurt and felt large and […]
Our ancestors wrote prose in long, beautiful sentences, convoluted like curls; although we still learn to do it that way in school, we write in short sentences that cut more quickly to the heart of the matter; and no one in the world can free his thinking from the manner in which his time wears […]
ἀρχαιολογία δέ τίς ἐστι περὶ τοῦ ἔθνους τοῦδε τοιαύτη· Ἄρμενος ἐξ Ἀρμενίου πόλεως Θετταλικῆς, ἣ κεῖται μεταξὺ Φερῶν καὶ Λαρίσης ἐπὶ τῇ Βοίβῃ, καθάπερ εἴρηται, συνεστράτευσεν Ἰάσονι εἰς τὴν Ἀρμενίαν· τούτου φασὶν ἐπώνυμον τὴν Ἀρμενίαν οἱ περὶ Κυρσίλον τὸν Φαρσάλιον καὶ Μήδιον τὸν Λαρισαῖον, ἄνδρες συνεστρατευκότες Ἀλεξάνδρῳ· τῶν δὲ μετὰ τοῦ Ἀρμένου τοὺς μὲν τὴν […]
Another man speaks satirically of those people who out of restlessness or curiosity embark on long journeys, who keep no diaries and write no descriptions, who carry no notebooks; who go to see things, and who either don’t see them or forget what they have seen; who are only anxious to look at unfamiliar towers […]
a window to walk away in – Aram Saroyan, from Aram Saroyan (1968)
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 […]
Though ethnie and nationality might be distinguished in any number of ways – size, attachment to territory, secular versus religious identity, ‘soft’ versus ‘hard’ boundaries – the most fundamental difference is not some ‘objective’ characteristic internal to the group, but rather the discursive universe in which it operates and realizes itself. A modern nationality, with […]
Even today, the majority of people in poor countries learn all their language skills without any paid tutorship, without any attempt whatsoever to teach them how to speak. And they learn to speak in a way that nowhere compares with the self-conscious, self-important, colorless mumbling that, after a long stay in villages in South America […]
The important thing for the remembering author is not what he experienced, but the weaving of his memory, the Penelope work of recollection. Or should one call it, rather, a Penelope work of forgetting? […] And is not his work of spontaneous recollection, in which remembrance is the woof and forgetting the warp, a counterpart […]
The method of handling notes is not a makeshift device necessitated by the use of the old plates but it one that I have used in several previous books and found advantageous. In my opinion the text of a book should be written and presented for continuous reading. Calling the reader’s attention to footnotes merely […]
Genocide, after all is an exercise in community building. A vigorous totalitarian order requires that the people be invested in the leaders’ scheme, and while genocide may be the most perverse and ambitious means to this end, it is also the most comprehensive. In 1994, Rwanda was regarded in much of the rest of the […]
I always thought that he did himself injustice in his account of what he had read, and that he must have been speaking with reference to the vast portion of study which is possible, and to which few scholars in the whole history of literature have attained; for when I once asked him whether a […]
The Age of Property holds bitter moments even for a proprietor. When a move is imminent, furniture becomes ridiculous, and Margaret now lay awake at nights wondering where, where on earth they and all their belongings would be deposited in September next. Chairs, tables, pictures, books, that had rumbled down to them through the generations, […]
derring-do among the philologists
in which Lord Chesterfield gives some useful advice regarding time management
a writer’s notebook
A scholar is someone who knows how to limit himself to the matter at hand.
on the Greek language.
on architecture, art, busts, and weight
At Passau the traveller feels that the flowing of the river is a yearning for the sea. That sense of life-to-the-full, that gift of the blood pressure, or of some acid benevolently secreted by the brain, was something I really felt in the alleys and on the river-banks of Passau; or do I just think […]
melodramatic laocoon attitudes…
the dangers of athletics
On his mantel he found a letter from his publisher, in response to a note he had written him the previous day requesting a new advance in return for the promise of a new novel. ‘Hateful profession!’ he exclaimed, unsealing the letter. ‘So I’ll have to write again, write forever, no matter what my state […]
For me, boredom is not the opposite of amusement; I might even go so far as to say that in certain of its aspects it actually resembles amusement inasmuch as it gives rise to distraction and forgetfulness, even if of a very special type. Boredom to me consists in a kind of insufficiency, or inadequacy, […]
There is a legend about a prisoner sentenced to solitary confinement for life. He spent years scratching a boat on the wall with the handle of a prison spoon. One day, they brought him his water, bread, and gruel, as usual, but the cell was empty, and the wall was blank. He had climbed into […]
Pieter van der Borcht, engraving of a pelican from Sancti Epiphanii ad Physiologum (1588) Writing, that powerful myth. The highest degree of distinction; how can it happen? How can the eye become progressively sensitive to reading, how can it get into the rhythm, the music; how can it be hurt – as if the light […]
on the best society…
accumulating and collecting knowledge…
‘La Brioche’ (1763), Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin [Mais aussi quand j’avais une fois ma chère petite brioche, et que, bien enfermé dans ma chambre, j’allais trouver ma bouteille au fond d’une armoire, quelles bonnes petites buvettes je faisais là tout seul en lisant quelques pages de roman !] Car lire en mangeant fut toujours ma fantaisie, au […]
Indifference is endemic. It is a disease which has spread through our whole civilization, and which is a symptom of a lowered vitality. The sensibilities are dulled and the average human being no longer cares to feel the keen edge of life, to have freshness in vision or zest and savour in the senses. He […]
And I have another mania about order which no one seems to respect as I do. I am always disturbed when someone catches me on the wing and asks me if I don’t want to do something. I want to answer: ‘I never want to do anything, at any time, except to continue what I […]
It has often been said the good is its own reward, and that it is in so far not only right but prudent to will the good. A prudent eudaemonist may be capable of understanding this quite well. In thought, in the form of a possibility, he may approach very near to the good; because […]
When we contemplate this display of passions and the consequences of their violence, the unreason which is associated not only with them, but even – rather we might say specially – with good designs and righteous aims; when we see arising therefrom the evil, the vice, the ruin that has befallen the most flourishing kingdoms […]