Friday, January 08, 2016


The Smell of Latin

F.D. How, Six Great Schoolmasters, 2nd ed. (London: Methuen & Co., 1905), pp. 120-121:
A grey-haired man in latter middle age remembers the arrival of Dr. Kennedy at his home on a visit to his father, who was one of the Doctor's old pupils, and how the great man produced a copy of his Latin Grammar and presented it to the awestruck little boy. It was bound in bright green cloth, and smelt strongly of bookbinder's paste, a smell which the small boy firmly believed to be that of "Latin," and disliked accordingly!
Edmund Gosse (1849-1928), Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments, chapter VII:
It was almost more than human nature could bear to have to sit holding up to my face the dreary little Latin book, with its sheepskin cover that smelt of mildewed paste.
See Christopher Stray, "The Smell of Latin Grammar: Contrary Imaginings in English Classrooms," Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 76.3 (1994) 201-220, esp. 205.

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