Tuesday, July 02, 2013


Commentators on Commentators

Bernard Berenson (1865-1959), One Year's Reading for Fun (1942) (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960), p. 85 (30 June; footnote omitted):
It may be deplorable, but I read ever so much more about the great writers and their works than I read the works themselves. It is not only because many of them are too archaic in both language and thought to be enjoyed in the raw, rather than as premasticated or prepared by critics who have extracted and tabloided them; it is also because I am more and more interested in what others have thought and said about them in the course of the ages. Furthermore, I am envious to know what expositors who have devoted lives to understanding this or that great author have to say about him, and to have them draw my attention to points that have escaped me. I shall, for instance, never forget the explanation of certain Chinese verses given by Yoshio Markino in his When I Was a Child. It seemed as if he had revealed a treasure of which hitherto I had seen only the casket that contained it. Not satisfied with the commentators, I gladly read commentators on commentators, just as now.

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