Friday, September 23, 2011

Publishing on the Cheap, II

A few posts ago I said bad things about an OCRed edition of Memories and Milestones. They were all accurate, and I've collected a few since, as for example the rendering of Phi Beta Kappa as 0 B K. However, the essays themselves are worth reading, though to my mind Unbought Mind  collect sthe best of them. Yet how can I resist passages such as
Mrs. Whitman was surrounded by geniuses. I didn't always believe in the rest of them, but I believed that somehow I must be a good one--not so great as she believed, but still something quite considerable in my own way.
I have sometimes thought that the difference between French and German literature is that the Frenchman is always in a parlor; while the German, on the other hand, lives in the mining-camp of his profession. Of course there are German poets and  novelists who deal with social life; but the hewers and diggers of the race are always encroaching; they occupy history, they invade journalism, they set up their barracks around philosophy. They have destroyed the German language; and all this because they work in silence.
Both passages are from the essay "Mrs. Whitman", on a hostess whose fame must otherwise, I imagine, be forgotten even in Boston, and likely had faded when the book came out. Yet the Mrs. Whitmans and Mr. Brimmers afford Chapman a starting point for reflections as worth reading as do those on Charles Eliot Norton or President Eliot.


  1. A discussion I listened to on Radio 3 the other day suggested that what made French literature distinctive was its loucheness. I've been trying to decide if this is right - or even what exactly it means - ever since. Can one be louche in the parlour?

  2. Can one find a parlor to be louche in? My great-grandparents had a parlor in their house, but subsequent generations have made do with living rooms. Still, I'd probably prefer a cafe to be louche in.

    I know much too little of French literature to guess whether this even makes any sense.