Thursday, November 04, 2004

Sors Virgiliana, Nov 3

"Sometimes you meet, coming down the leafy path along which you are walking, a man dressed as Napoleon; as he talks to you you look at him with distrust, pity and amusement -- carefully do not look, rather. But as the two of you walk along, and people come up with wallpaper designs full of Imperial bees, rashly offer their condolences on the death of the duc d'Enghien, ask for a son's appointment as Assistant Quartermaster-General of the army being sent to the Peninsula, you realize that it is not he but his whole society that has 'lost touch with reality'" -- Randall Jarrell, Pictures from an Institution

[Pictures from an Institution, by Randall Jarrell (Faber, 1954). Exhaustingly witty academic and literary satire. You are never more than four sentences away from an epigram. Lots of interesting stuff on the difficulty of seeing other people as fully human; which points up, possibly deliberately, the not-quite-humanness of everybody here described.]

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