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Cold Bean Porridge and a Virgin Milkmaid

Disgruntled Goodreads Expat

I Heart Woolf

I was in some sort of weird mental state this week and couldn't seem to focus on reading (it was a strange feeling), but I think I'm over it now, and this is the first thing I read today:



The Greeks--yes, that was what they talked about--how when all's said and done, when one's rinsed one's mouth with every literature in the world, including Chinese and Russian (but these Slavs aren't civilized), it's the flavor of Greek that remains. Durrant quoted Aeschylus--Jacob Sophocles. It is true that no Greek could have understood or professor refrained from pointing out--Never mind; what is Greek for if not to be shouted on Haverstock Hill in the dawn? Moreover, Durrant never listened to Sophocles, nor Jacob to Aeschylus. They were boastful, triumphant; it seemed to both that they had read every book in the world; known every sin, passion, and joy. Civilizations stood round them like flowers ready for picking. Ages lapped at their feet like waves fit for sailing. And surveying all this, looming through the fog, the lamplight, the shades of London, the two young men decided in favour of Greece.

"Probably," said Jacob, "we are the only people in the world who know what the Greeks meant."

They drank coffee at a stall where the urns were burnished and little lamps burnt along the counter.

Taking Jacob for a military gentleman, the stall-keeper told him about his boy at Gibraltar, and Jacob cursed the British army and praised the Duke of Wellington. So on again they went down the hill talking about the Greeks.

(Jacob's Room, pp. 87-88)








Jacob knew no more Greek than served him to stumble through a play. Of ancient history he knew nothing. However, as he tramped into London it seemed to him that they were making the flagstones ring on the road to the Acropolis, and that if Socrates saw them coming he would bestir himself and say "my fine fellows," for the whole sentiment of Athens was entirely after his heart; free, venturesome, high-spirited....She had called him Jacob without asking his leave. She had sat upon his knee. Thus did all good women in the days of the Greeks.

(p. 88)


Can you blame me for being a bit enamored?