I read recently an article about Dorothy Sayer’s education in Latin. She assess various teaching techniques, pronunciation methods, why Latin is essential for one’s education, and what content to include. For much of the article, I found myself in agreement with Miss Sayers. However, I disagree with Dorothy Sayers about Cicero, when she said something like “throw that old fool out the window.” I felt that way about reading Caesar when our Latin III class was reading from the Gallic Wars. We found out that Caesar was extremely selective in the battle reports that he presented and that he liked himself a lot. Although Cicero is way over my head and has a number of idioms, I’m enjoying him more because of his facility with language.
I started Middlemarch this weekend. Some bill it as “the greatest novel in the English language.” I had begun reading Rebecca Mead’s My Life In Middlemarch, an interesting enough memoir about how reading Middlemarch at different stages of life has shaped her as a person. About halfway through this book, I decided that Middlemarch itself may be more interesting than Ms. Mead’s experience of the novel. I’m only to chapter six, but so far, I haven’t seen any reason why Middlemarch can’t live up to this billing. Moby Dick and a couple of other novels, maybe Bleak House, compete with MIddlemarch for this but it’s absolutely top drawer. I love reading books in which it appears that the author has read everything that you have and the book is a conversation between the author and you. That’s what I enjoyed so much about both Moby Dick and am enjoying about Middlemarch.