Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Victorians at their best

Mark Pattison's name calls to mind a whole lost world of Victorian learning. Its locale ranged widely in character and location: from the great domed reading rooms of the British Museum, lined with its hundreds of calf-bound books, to James Murray's Scriptorium. lined with its thousands of paper slips bearing quotations. But its inhabitants were more uniform: the bald, bearded, energetic men of letters who founded literary societies, created workingmen's colleges, taught young women to row, edited arcane texts, and wrote essays for the common reader more learned than most of what appears in modern scholarly journals. We still batten upon the rich fruits of their industry: The New English Dictionary, the Dictionary of National Biography, and the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Anthony Grafton, World Made of Words


We’d be better off if we were a little more Victorian

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