Autodidact: self-taught



by V. L. Craven

Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey
01. …And it was not enough that each particle of the past should be given the stability of metal or of marble: the whole collection, in its arrangement, no less than its entity, should be immutably fixed…Every single article in the Queen’s possession was photographed from several points of view. These photographs were submitted to Her Majesty, and when, after careful inspection, she had approved of them, they were placed in a series of albums, richly bound. Then, opposite each photograph, an entry was made, indicating the number of the article, the number of the room in which it was kept, its exact position in the room and all its principal characteristics. The fate of every object which had undergone this process was henceforth irrevocably sealed. The whole multitude, once and for all, took up its steadfast station. And Victoria, with a gigantic volume or two of the endless catalogue always beside her, to look through, to ponder upon, to expatiate over, could feel, with a double contentment, that the transitoriness of this world had been arrested by the amplitude of her might.
Thus the collection, ever multiplying, ever encroaching upon new fields of consciousness, ever rooting itself more firmly in the depths of instinct, became one of the dominating influences of that strange existence. It was a collection not merely of things and of thoughts, but of states of mind and ways of living as well.

Queenan Country Queenan Country by Joe Queenan
001. p74: Bound spread-eagled on the roasting coals of Great British Literature while still a meek, vulnerable adolescent, I began to think of high school reading requirements as a brutal military campaign. The advanced guard (A.E. Houseman, William Blake, John Donne) first appeared on the foreboding bluffs to the left. Arrayed on the starboard side were William Wordsworth, Robert Browning, and Richard Sheridan. Suddenly, the onslaught was unleashed with all three Brontes brandishing their fearsome battle-axes. Having already survived a flanking action by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Jane Austen, I was now forced to battle the pitiless oppressors to a fare-the-well. But just when it seemed the attack might be repelled, the Red coats wheeled up the seige guns (Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens). Now, all avenues of retreat were cut off by George Bernard Show, E.M. Forster, and the ferociously cruel Gerald Manley Hopkins. Forced to surrender, survivors were dragged in fetters to the death camps where John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Dryden and Alexander Pope sat sharpening their knives. Then, next semester, the ordeal started all over again with Philip Sydney, Edmund Spencer and Algernon Swinburne. The Brits were merciless—and they just kept coming.

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