Saturday, August 31, 2019


Stern Nincompoops

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974), "Illusions of Likeness," The Condemned Playground. Essays: 1927-1944 (London: Routledge, 1945), pp. 41-46 (at 41-42):
The last ten years have witnessed a welcome decay in pedantic snobbery about dead languages. A knowledge of Greek is no longer the hallmark of a powerful intellectual caste, who visit with Housmanly scorn any solecism from the climbers outside it. The dons who jeer at men of letters for getting their accents wrong command no more sympathy than doctors who make fun of psychiatrists or osteopaths; the vast vindictive rages which scholars used to vent on those who knew rather less than themselves seem no longer so admirable, like the contempt which those people who at some time learned how to pronounce Buccleuch and Harewood have for those who are still learning. The don-in-the-manger is no longer formidable. There was a time when most people were ashamed to say that The Oxford Book of Greek Verse required a translation. That time is over. We shall not refer to it again except to say that if people as teachable as ourselves couldn't be taught enough Greek in ten years to construe any piece unseen, as we can with French, or with any other modern language, then that system by which we were taught should be scrapped, and those stern nincompoops by whom we were instructed should come before us, like the burghers of Calais, in sackcloth and ashes with halters round their necks.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?