Tuesday, December 02, 2014
I sent you the other day a printed copy of my opinion in the Communists Appeal.50 I did so only because you asked it in such a way as to make me think you wanted it. Even so, I was doubtful, remembering the feelings which similar tenders had produced upon me when judges sent me their cerebrations. But you don't have to read it; it ain't interesting. Opinions fall within Charles Lamb's classification βιβλια αβιβλια,51 along with actuarial tables and reports of the Interstate Commission.The editor's note 51 completely misses the mark. First, there should be a reference to the relevant passage in Charles Lamb's essay "Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading," from The Last Essays of Elia:
50. United States v. Dennis, 183 F.2d 201 (2d Cir. 1950), aff'd, 341 U.S. 494 (1951).
51. I.e., in a book, [there are] books.
I can read any thing which I call a book. There are things in that shape which I cannot allow for such.Second, the translation should be the one Lamb provides—"books which are no books." How anyone could get "in a book, [there are] books" out of βιβλια αβιβλια is a mystery.
In this catalogue of books which are no books—biblia a-biblia—I reckon Court Calendars, Directories, Pocket Books, Draught Boards bound and lettered at the back, Scientific Treatises, Almanacks, Statutes at Large; the works of Hume, Gibbon, Robertson, Beattie, Soame Jenyns, and, generally, all those volumes which "no gentleman's library should be without:" the Histories of Flavius Josephus (that learned Jew), and Paley's Moral Philosophy. With these exceptions, I can read almost any thing. I bless my stars for a taste so catholic, so unexcluding.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.
Labels: typographical and other errors