Monday, January 16, 2012


No Aesthetics, Please

Edward FitzGerald, letter to W.A. Wright (July 1878):
Ask some one—and tell me—some good Schoolboy Edition of Virgil—English notes and no Aesthetics.
Cf. FitzGerald's letter to Wright (February 23, 1880, on Wright's editions of Shakespeare):
I saw some stuff in the Academy about the want of Aesthetics in the Clarendon Press notes: a pretty mess the Aesthetics make of it: and I hope you will stick to the Incontrovertible.
and his letter to Fanny Kemble (March 1, 1880):
This Wright edits certain Shakespeare Plays for Macmillan: very well, I fancy, so far as Notes go; simply explaining what needs explanation for young Readers, and eschewing all aesthetic (now, don't say you don't know what "aesthetic" means, etc.) aesthetic (detestable word) observation. With this the Swinburnes, Furnivalls, Athenaeums, etc., find fault: and a pretty hand they make of it when they try that tack. It is safest surely to give people all the Data you can for forming a Judgment, and then leave them to form it by themselves.

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