September 2, 2003 by AK

Manner is Matter

To quote from Dr. Weevil:

In Chapter 4 (‘The Zinc-Lined Trunk’) of his delightful novel, Antigua, Penny, Puce (1936), Robert Graves puts the following words in the mouth of an anonymous form-master:

“What I like about Lucretius is that the substance of his writing is, to all intents and purposes, negligible. Read him in search of knowledge or good sense and you are misinformed and misdirected at every turn. But ah, what noble nonsense! Concentrate on the manner, gentlemen, and forget the matter.”

I do not know to what extent Graves endorsed the opinion of his character.

Mikhail Kuzmin, a truly outstanding but underappreciated Russian poet of the early 20th century, said, “To write about nothing is the highest hallmark of talent.” Or, depending on what you take proba to mean, “the ultimate test of talent”.


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