Wednesday, March 27, 2019


A Specialized Eccentricity

Donald R. Howard (1927-1987), Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1989), p. 32:
The classical humanism that was just coming into vogue at the end of the fourteenth century became the center of the university curriculum in the sixteenth century and remained so until the beginning of our own century; it became obsolescent for us over fifty years ago—about as many years as the Old Humanism had been obsolescent in Chaucer's time. But it is not yet obsolete. All those editions with scientific-looking textual notes, all those philological disquisitions (and dissertations) line the shelves of libraries; there are still Classics Departments in our colleges, and classical scholars, and a smattering of students who can read Latin and Greek. It is only that where once Classics was the essence of a university education, it is now a specialized eccentricity, like playing the krummhorn.

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