Thursday, December 23, 2010


A Howler

Saul Bellow, Looking for Mr. Green, in his Collected Stories (New York: Viking, 2001), pp. 174-190 (at 181):
"I also sold shoes."

"You've been a shoe-dog, too. Well. And prior to that? Here it is in your folder." He opened the record. "Saint Olaf's College, instructor in classical languages. Fellow, University of Chicago, 1926-27. I've had Latin, too. Let's trade quotations—'Dum spiro spero.'"

"'De dextram misero.'"

"'Alea iacta est.'"


Raynor shouted with laughter, and other workers came to look at him over the partition. Grebe also laughed, feeling pleased and easy. The luxury of fun on a nervous morning.

When they were alone and no one was watching or listening, Raynor said rather seriously, "What made you study Latin in the first place? Was it for the priesthood?"


"Just for the hell of it? For the culture? Oh, the things people think they can pull!"
A former teacher of classical languages wouldn't be likely to make such a mistake as "De dextram misero." Read "Da dextram misero."

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