Monthly Archives

September 26, 2004

Advantages Of Reading Dull Prose

I don't recall whether I read this in the primary or a secondary source, but I jotted it down on a piece of paper years ago:

But it is not in verse alone that a pupil will stumble over artificial collocations. They abound in prose, wherever a writer is affecting the grand style, or is talking fine; whenever Livy begins scene-painting; or Cicero to roll in flood; or Tacitus to ‘glower into a puddle;’ or Juvenal to pour the vials of his carefully-bottled wrath upon excesses with which he betrays a suspicious familiarity. A pupil, by being brought into too early an acquaintance with the tricks of rhetoric, fails later on to appreciate their force. With a sober-tinted background of natural Latin, these artificial figures would be brought out in full relief: as it is, they blend with the surrounding landscape, and the whole picture, to the art-student, has a dim and hazy look.

— D'Arcy Thomson, Day Dreams of a Schoolmaster (1864), page 87.

Posted by Michael Hendry at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

Bierce: Not Dead Yet

Last March I began three experimental literary blogs, publishing interesting authors in convenient daily or weekly slices. Gracián's Oráculo Manual turned out to be much too time-consuming, though I may relaunch it in January if I can get far enough ahead on the translating to maintain a reasonable schedule. I will be returning to M. R. James' Ghost Stories of an Antiquary before then, but not this week. However, the blogging of Ambrose Bierce's little book of prescriptive grammar, Write It Right, continues on a more-or-less daily basis: we are in the middle of the Ls. Do visit if you have the time and interest. Just to be perverse, I put the latest entries at the bottom of the page.

Posted by Michael Hendry at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)