Saturday, May 31, 2014

"To read well, that is to say, to read slowly . . ."

Laudator Emporis Acti has two delightful posts on slow reading. One involves the famous classics scholar Eduard Fraenkel:
He lectured effectively on Catullus, Virgil, and Horace; but he exerted special influence through his famous seminars on Aeschylus's Agamemnon, in which he went through the play in almost as much time as it took Agamemnon to capture Troy.

The other cites E. A. Poe, and this from Nietzsche:
It is not for nothing that I have been a philologist, perhaps I am a philologist still, that is to say, a teacher of slow reading....For philology is that venerable art which demands of its votaries one thing above all: to go aside, to take time, to become still, to become slow—it is a goldsmith's art and connoisseurship of the word which has nothing but delicate, cautious work to do and achieves nothing if it does not achieve it lento. But for precisely this reason it is more necessary than ever today, by precisely this means does it entice and enchant us the most, in the midst of an age of 'work', that is to say, of hurry, of indecent and perspiring haste, which wants to 'get everything done' at once, including every old or new book:—this art does not so easily get anything done, it teaches to read well, that is to say, to read slowly, deeply, looking cautiously before and aft, with reservations, with doors left open, with delicate eyes and fingers.

We are not alone! 

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