Thursday, March 27, 2014

The class

I am teaching this semester is one of the strangest, easiest and most purely pleasurable teaching experiences I have ever had! Today we were reading the amazing pair of narratives by Johnson and Boswell, Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.

Johnson's narrative is studded with amazing formulations (“If an epicure could remove by a wish, in quest of sensual gratifications, wherever he had supped he would breakfast in Scotland”), but this observation of Johnson's about aphorism - mediated through Boswell - also especially caught my eye:
Besides, I love anecdotes. I fancy mankind may come, in time, to write all aphoristically, except in narrative; grow weary of preparation, and connection, and illustration, and all those arts by which a big book is made. If a man is to wait till he weaves anecdotes into a system, we may be long in getting them, and get but a few, in comparison of what we might get.

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