Monday, May 17, 2010


Maurice Baring

Maurice Baring, C, chapter XXXIX:
The point of this life is—I think—its imperfection. The point of human beings to me is that they are full of faults and weaknesses and wickedness—it is because of all that that they are human, made up of a thousand things: defects, qualities, idiosyncrasies, tricks, habits, crotchets, hobbies, little roughnesses and queer pitfalls, unexpected quaintnesses: unexpected goodness, and unexpected badness; take all that away, and what is left?
Maurice Baring, "High-Brows and Low-Brows," from Lost Lectures:
I mean by the good high-brow the man who is well educated and glad of the fact without thrusting it down other people's throats, who, without being ashamed of his knowledge, his intellectual or artistic superiority, or his gifts and aptitudes, does not use them as a rod to beat others with, and does not think that because he is the fortunate possessor of certain rare gifts or talents, he is therefore a better or a more useful man: such is the good high-brow....My point is that the more of these there are the better for the nation, the better for all of us. When there shall be no more of them, it will mean the extinction of our civilisation.
Both of these quotations are second-hand, from Joseph Epstein's essay "Maurice Baring and the Good Highbrow," in his collection Pertinent Players: Essays on the Literary Life (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993), pp. 349-367. I've never read anything by Maurice Baring, but perhaps I should.

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