Wednesday, November 18, 2020


A Holy Text

Clive James (1939-2019), "Ernst Robert Curtius," Cultural Amnesia (2007; rpt. London: Picador, 2012), pp. 154-160 (at 155, on Curtius' European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages):
When I was first a student at Sydney University in the late 1950s, my teacher George Russell, himelf a scholar of the Middle Ages, placed his copy of Curtius's masterpiece on a lectern, opened it as if it were a holy text and said: 'This is a great book.'
Si parvum (Gilleland) licet componere magno (James), in the early 1970s, when I was a student at the University of Maine, my teacher Renate Delphendahl let me borrow her copy of Curtius' book. One day, when I was reading it over breakfast, I spilled grape juice on it, staining the fore edge. I tried to scrape off the stain with a razor blade, but it didn't work, and eventually I returned the damaged book with an abject apology. I have my own copy of the holy text now, a paperback, falling apart from constant consultation.

Thanks to my dear and faithful friend Jim K., who gave me a copy of Clive James' book.

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