One Such Quote

“Almost all the contents of the ‘advanced’ reviews are just ‘Mary had a little lamb’ translated into Hebrew and written in cipher. Re-Englished and decoded, they astonish the reader by their silliness. Catching the sense at two removes, or ten, he is annoyed to find that it is either nonsense or platitude’ (A Huxley, ‘Texts and Pretexts’)

Responses, three:

1. It’s a fair point, well made. Beware of things that hide between the sheets of quotation marks, from ‘advanced’ to ‘geniculate’ (see below). Avoid them like the plague! Flee from them like a fleet of poisonous bees!

2. Forgive me if I have stumbled into an error, but I seem to remember one of the larger idiots who congregate on the letters page of my journal questioning the existence of Mr. Huxley. He is – this cretin confidently claimed – a fictional character, made up by yours truly to prove a point. To this I say ‘tch!’ (and many other things besides). Huxley not only walked the earth, but did so on rather long legs.

3. ‘Mary had a little lamb’ is, as you no doubt know, a nursery rhyme of American origin. But who knew that in the eighteenth century certain central Europeans used to sing a similar song? Ermak Oipic’s translation of ‘Josef possessed a diminutive donkey’ is just one of the songs to be found in a recent publication entitled (with little originality) ‘Eighteenth Century Central European Songs and their Origins’ (the title is in fact a touch misleading, for the origin of Josef and his donkey is not explored at all). If I had a link, I’d post it. As it is, I haven’t. (Here, however, is a donkey).


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