Friday, September 10, 2010


Read I Shall, Persistently, Rejoicingly

George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (Spring, XVII):
Scholarship in the high sense was denied me, and now it is too late. Yet here am I gloating over Pausanias, and promising myself to read every word of him. Who that has any tincture of old letters would not like to read Pausanias, instead of mere quotations from him and references to him? Here are the volumes of Dahn's Die Könige der Germanen: who would not like to know all he can about the Teutonic conquerors of Rome? And so on, and so on. To the end I shall be reading—and forgetting. Ah, that's the worst of it! Had I at command all the knowledge I have at any time possessed, I might call myself a learned man. Nothing surely is so bad for the memory as long-enduring worry, agitation, fear. I cannot preserve more than a few fragments of what I read, yet read I shall, persistently, rejoicingly. Would I gather erudition for a future life? Indeed, it no longer troubles me that I forget. I have the happiness of the passing moment, and what more can mortal ask?
My happiness was considerably increased yesterday by the receipt of volume 1 of Martial, Epigrams, edited and translated by D.R. Shackleton Bailey, and G.S. Kirk's commentary on books 5-8 of the Iliad, the very generous gifts of "David F." Thank you, David—these books will give me weeks of unalloyed enjoyment.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 94 Degrees in the Shade

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