Monday, September 27, 2010

the uses of history...

Robert Richardson said of Henry David Thoreau,

"...reading Virgil...Thoreau was struck by passages about the buds swelling on the vines and fruit scattered about under the trees. The point, he told himself, was that 'It was the same world.' His second observation followed naturally enough. If Virgil's was the same world as ours, then 'the same men inhabited it.' Neither nature nor human nature has changed, in essence, from Virgil's time to ours..."

And this from the Thoreau's Journal:

Sept. 27, 1857. How out of all proportion to the value of an idea, when you come to one, in Hindoo literature for instance, is the historical fact about it, the when, where, etc., it was actually expressed, and what precisely it might signify to a sect of worshipers! Anything that is called history of India or of the world is impertinent beside any real poetry or inspired thought which is dateless."

(Illustration:  "Virgil and the Muses of History and Tragedy")

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