Sunday, October 21, 2007


A Quirkily Laconic Character

Peter Watson writes:
Your post today reminded me of another quirkily laconic character, Saxon Sydney-Turner (1880-1962), who was on the margins of the Bloomsbury Group. This is how Leonard Woolf describes him in Sowing: An Autobiography of the Years 1880-1904 (1960) pg. 67:

"Both physically and mentally Saxon was ghost-like, shadowy. He rarely committed himself to any positive opinion or even statement. His conversation – if it could rightly be called conversation – was extremely spasmodic, elusive, and allusive. You might be sitting reading a book and suddenly find him standing in front of you on one leg in front of the fire knocking out his pipe into the fireplace and he would say without looking up: 'Her name was Emily'; or perhaps: 'He was right.' After a considerable amount of cross-examination, you would find that the first remark applied to a conversation weeks ago in which he had tried unsuccessfully to remember the christian name of Miss Girouette in Nightmare Abbey, and the second remark applied to a dispute between Thoby Stephen and myself which I had completely forgotten because it had taken place in the previous term."

The full sketch (too long to quote) actually takes up two pages and describes more of his numerous eccentricities, bibliomania among them.

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