Thursday, October 30, 2014



E.R. Dodds (1893-1979), "The Rediscovery of the Classics," The Irish Statesman 2.42 (April 10, 1920) 346-347, rpt. as "The Classics and Classical Humbug," The Living Age 305 (April, May, June 1920) 607-609:
It is notorious that the hardest books to rediscover are those we have lived with all our lives—the Bible, for instance. In such cases the delicate sensibilities which thrill to the impact of a new experience have been dulled by custom, and the fineness of the aesthetic palate overlaid with a thick coat of inherited sentiment and second-hand judgments. The Odes of Horace and the Psalms of David oppose to our critical appreciation the same barrier as Hamlet—they are too full of 'quotations'. If we would free ourselves from the tyranny of suggestion, neither yielding lip-service to the 'classics' in obedience to other people's formulas nor blindly flouting them to assert an illusory independence, if we would see our literary inheritance steadily and see it whole, we must simplify our vision until it is as intense and naive as the vision of a child or an early explorer or a Renaissance scholar.

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