Monday, January 18, 2010


The Disease of Introspection

Norman Douglas, Old Calabria, chapter XXXVIII:
Know thyself: to what depths of vain, egocentric brooding has that dictum led!
Similarly, in the penultimate paragraph of the book, Douglas referred to the "disease of introspection."

I just re-read Old Calabria, and I also just re-read Elizabeth David's tribute to Douglas, "Have It Your Way," first published (February 1969) in the now sadly defunct magazine Gourmet and reprinted in her book An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1986), pp. 120-124. The first paragraph of David's article is:
'Always do as you please, and send everybody to Hell, and take the consequences. Damned good Rule of Life. N.' I think we must both have been more than a little tipsy the evening Norman wrote those words on the back page of my copy of Old Calabria. They are in a pencilled untidy scrawl that is very different from the neat pen-and-ink inscription, dated 21 May 1940, on the flyleaf of the book, and from the methodical list of 'misprints etc.' written on the title page when he gave me the book. 'Old-fashioned stuff, my dear. Heavy going. I don't know whether you'll be able to get through it.'
Old-fashioned in a good way, and not at all heavy going. In fact, just the right medicine to counteract the disease of introspection.

Related post: An Old Saw and a New One.

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