Saturday, January 25, 2020


How Long Does it Take to Make a Mummy?

W. Jackson Bate (1918-1999), "The Crisis in English Studies," Harvard Magazine 85.1 (September-October 1982) 46-53 (at 49):
If you took a Ph.D. here in English as late as the 1930s, you were suddenly shoved — with grammars written in German — into Anglo-Saxon, and Middle Scots, plus Old Norse (Icelandic), Gothic, Old French, and so on. I used to sympathize with the Japanese and Chinese students who had come here to study literature struggling with a German grammar to translate Gothic into English! William Allan Neilson, the famous president of Smith College, had been a professor of English here for years. Forgiveably, he stated that the Egyptians took only five weeks to make a mummy, but the Harvard English Department took five years.

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