Tuesday, December 06, 2016


What Else Does a Gentleman Need?

Adam Makkai, "Meeting Tibor and the Wlassics Family," In remembrance of Tibor Wlassics, savio gentil (Charlottesville: The Graduate Students of the Department of Italian, University of Virginia, 1999), pp. 1-2 (bracketed material in original):
(7) Just a few weeks before the National Uprising of 1956 his father, Dr. Géza Wlassics, who instilled in Tibor the love of Dante and that of the Italian language, commits suicide in deep depression. We roam the streets of Budapest for many nights reciting poetry to one another and dream of a better world.

(8) Not knowing what happened to him, I stumble across him at midnight in the Stefanskirche in Vienna in early December of 1956. When I ask him what he brought with him, he answers: "One white shirt, and the Dramas of Sophokles [in Hungarian translation by János Arany, Hungary's Goethe (1817-1882)], after all, what else does a gentleman need?" This becomes proverbial among Hungarian literati in the West.
In the title of the Gedenkschrift, the phrase savio gentil comes from the description of Vergil in Dante's Inferno 7.3—quel savio gentil, che tutto seppe (that noble sage, who knew everything).

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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