Wednesday, March 30, 2016


A Grotesque Idea

Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), "Apologia transfugae," Didaskolos 4 (1972) 393-412 (at 407):
How can anyone understand a society who does not read its literature? The professional historian goes back to the original documents: the documents of state. But what documents are more original than the art and literature of any people, the still living documents of society? Historical writing which is not nourished from such sources is dry and dead — as most academic theses, and most textbooks, too dismally testify. To study Elizabethan England without reading Shakespeare, or Puritan England without reading Milton, or Restoration England without reading Dryden — the idea is, to me, grotesque.

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