Wednesday, December 30, 2015


An Assigned Task

Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1848-1931), My Recollections, 1848-1914, tr. G.C. Richards (London: Chatto & Windus, 1930), p. 210:
[S]cholars are too apt to pursue only what pleases them, if possible also in their lectures. So each of them should at the outset have a task assigned to him, which he is to perform, because it has got to be performed. It must be finished, too, a chef-d'oeuvre in our craft.

[D]ie Gelehrten sind zu leicht geneigt, nur zu treiben, wozu sie Lust haben; womöglich auch in den Vorlesungen. Darum sollte jeder zu Anfang eine Aufgabe zugewiesen erhalten, die er machen soll, weil sie gemacht werden muß. Fertig werden muß sie auch: das Meisterstück in unserm Handwerk.
Cf. Paul Oskar Kristeller (1905-1999), "Medieval and Renaissance Studies: Reflections of a Scholar," Speculum 52.1 (January, 1977) 1-4 (at 3):
Younger scholars may be encouraged to pursue scholarly desiderata, but should not be pressed to do so. Each individual scholar, young or old, has the right and the duty to pursue those subjects and problems that are of genuine interest to him. Each of them should stubbornly follow that natural curiosity which is the ultimate source and justification of our quest.
Wilamowitz was one of Kristeller's teachers.

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