Friday, February 28, 2014


Widely Read and Thoughtful Men

Norman Douglas (1868-1952), Old Calabria (1915; rpt. London: Oxford University Press, 1938), pp. 44-45 (from chapter V):
One is astonished how large a literature has grown up around this small place—but indeed, the number of monographs dealing with every one of these little Italian towns is a ceaseless source of surprise. Look below the surface and you will find, in all of them, an undercurrent of keen spirituality—a nucleus of half a dozen widely read and thoughtful men, who foster the best traditions of the mind. You will not find them in the town council or at the café. No newspapers commend their labours, no millionaires or learned societies come to their assistance, and though typography is cheap in this country, they often stint themselves of the necessities of life in order to produce these treatises of calm research. There is a deep gulf, here, between the mundane and the intellectual life. These men are retiring in their habits; and one cannot but revere their scholarly and almost ascetic spirit that survives like a green oasis amid the desert of 'politics,' roguery and municipal corruption.

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