Some Things Don’t Change That Much

Henry Brooke Irish writer Henry Brooke (1703 – 1783) in his The Fool of Quality (1766 – 1770) talked about an editor he was acquainted with who said the following about his authors: I can get one of these gentlemen […] on whose education more money has been spent […] than would maintain a decent family to […]

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Gleanings from the Past #72

On the Spot When [John] Dryden was a boy at Westminster school, he was put, with others to write a copy of verses on the miracle of the conversion of water into wine. Being a great truant, he had not time to compose his verses; and, when brought up, he had only made one line […]

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Gleanings from the Past #71

Keynes on Newton I believe that the clue to his mind is to be found in his unusual powers of continuous concentrated introspection. A case can be made out, as it also can with Descartes, for regarding him as an accomplished experimentalist. Nothing can be more charming than the tales of his mechanical contrivances when […]

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Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” in “N Plus 7” Oulipo

In 1999, Harry Matthews presented an “Oulipian” rendition of Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” during a lecture on the Oulipo in Key West, Florida. Matthews belonged to the group, “Oulipo” or OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) which translates to Workshop of Potential Literature. Oulipo is a French-based group interested in creating works […]

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Don’t You Know Me?

English novelist Anthony Trollope related the following story which occurred in 1872 in his autobiography, posthumously published in 1883: I came home across America from San Francisco to New York, visiting Utah and Brigham Young on the way. I did not achieve great intimacy with the great polygamist of the Salt Lake City. I called […]

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Lines On A Twister

The following tongue twister is found in Samuel Johnson’s seminal book A Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1755, under the definition of TWISTER: When a twister a-twisting will twist him a twist, For the twisting of his twist, he three twines doth intwist; But if one of the twines of the twist […]

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Gleanings From The Past #66

We Regret the Error An Irish editor, apologizing for a rather serious blunder in his paper, said: “I never saw the manuscript till it was in print.” — The St Louis Republic [St. Louis, Missouri], April 28, 19011  The Will of a Virtuoso I, NICHOLAS GIMCRACK, being in sound health of mind, but in great weakness […]

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Gleanings From The Past #65

Yankee Doodle A writer in Harper’s Magazine for the current month, seems to find his Dutch blood dancing to a new tune in the delight he experiences at a discovery, in recent researches into American literature, concerning the much-disputed origin of Yankee Doodle. Of course we cannot find it in our hearts to criticise the […]

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A One Syllable Per Line Sonnet

The following is an remarkable short “sonnet” titled “An Aeronaut to his Lady” composed by Frank Sidgwick (1879-1939) quoted in David McCord (Editor), What Cheer: An Anthology of American and British Humorous and Witty Verse, 1945: I Through Blue Sky Fly To You. Why? Sweet Love, Feet Move So Slow! This sonnet differs from traditional […]

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Gleanings From The Past #64

The Value of Books Anthony Panormita, a learned Sicilian, in the fifteenth century, sold an estate, that he might be able to purchase a copy of Livy. Of this circumstance we have a curious account, in a letter written by Panormita himself, to Alphonsus, king of Naples, to whom he was secretary. It is as […]

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