Saturday, February 10, 2007

I came across this wonderful passage from Nietzsche that perfectly describes my beliefs about how the reading of literature should be taught. Perhaps I am a philologist at heart!
("Lento" means "slowly"...and the bold printing is mine.)

"I have not been a philologist in vain -- perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading. I even come to write slowly. At present it is not only my habit, but even my taste -- a perverted taste, maybe -- to write nothing but what will drive to despair every one who is "in a hurry." For philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all -- to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow -- the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. For this very reason philology is now more desirable than ever before; for this very reason it is the highest attraction and incitement in an age of "work": that is to say, of haste, of unseemly and immoderate hurry-skurry, which is intent upon "getting things done "at once, even every book, whether old or new. Philology itself, perhaps, will not "get things done" so hurriedly: it teaches how to read well: i.e. slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar, with delicate fingers and eyes . . . my patient friends, this book appeals only to perfect readers and philologists: learn to read me well!"

--from Daybreak, 1881

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