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254 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY the province of literary scholarship. One wonders whether a sOllnd aesthetic judgment of any Elizabethan writer is possible without the use, in part, of the sociological method. One wohd·ers how many of our conventional academic opinions about literary form, imagery) symbolism, characterization, etc.) in Elizabethan literature may be changed by the sch·olarly work of the next ten years. SHORTER NOTICES The Translations of Lucian by Erasmus and St. Thomas More. By C. R. THOMSON, Ithaca, N.Y. 1940. . MR THOMSON, who is an Instructor in English at Cornell, has written a pleasant and illuminating foot-note to the history of sixteenth-century literature. For us, · Lucian is a magnificent journalist, amazingly able, facile and witty, familiar with all contemporary and earlier thought, art and literature, using the whole ancient civilization as material for charming satirical essays, stories and dialogues that are always clear-headed, always utterly disillusioned. His sharpness of outline, his glittering, somewhat metallic wit, his smiling yet deadly hatred of cant, bring to mind our own Jewish writers-Disraeli, Zangwill, Mr Max Beerbohm. But for those puissant saints and scholars who were involved in . the controversies of the Reformation, his \importance was both greater and more varied. "St. ·Thomas More, a pious Catholic, enjoyed his wit and his satire of vice and hypocrisy. Luther, who did not know him so well) thought of him only as an atheistic scoffer at religion.... That grave and earnest Christian Sir Tho·mas Elyot recommended Lucian's dialogues for boys) but he was careful to add that some of them ought to remain untouched." Erasmus and More were close friends: they studied Lucian together and incited one another to translate him. Their enthusiasm has left clear traces in those celebrated works, The Praise of Folly and Utopia. Both learned from him the value of irony in literature and thus became the first to exhibit that Lucianism which has so often given brilliance and pungency to later writing-the spirit of Landor, Heine and Anatole France. Students of either More or Erasmus will find much profit in this book, for Mr Thomson's account appears no less complete , I REVIEWS 255 than lucid, and his businesslike notes prove him a master of aU the "literature." (From them, by the way, we learn that a few years ago one passionate microscopist saw fit to bestow on mankind apaper some thirty pages long about aThoihas More der Heitere." If even the blitheness of the great must quiver on our operatingtables , why are there no "studies" or "aspects" of Erasmus' , remarks on the English superiority in kissing?)' What comfort, what inspiration, may the Hellenist of our time draw from chance sentences in Erasmus' letters written in days when Europe was realizing anew not only the charm and splendour of Greek, but its indispensabiJity also! HExperience tells me that in all literary pursuits we are nothing without Greek scholarship." HAs soon as I get hold of money, I shall buy first some Greek authors, and then some clothes"-a striking parallel to a famous sentence of Chaucer. He has now ceased to translate Lucian because "knowledge of Greek begins to spread everywhere." One reason for this eagerness was the very scarcity of books and , teachers. Nowadays tQO many of us, commanding marvellous facilities, appear to think that if we read without compulsion so much as a single book o(Xenophon we should receive a gilt-edged certificate. He who was perhaps the greatest classica~ scholar that ever lived, J oseph Justus Scaliger, carried out his immense reading on the march and beside camp-fires during the French wars of religion. G.N. This Great Argument: A Study oj Milton's De Doctrina Christiana as a Gloss upon ~aradise Lost. By MAURICE KELLEY. (Princeton Studies in Engli~h, volume XXII.) Princeton: Princeton . University Press. 194:1. ($5.00) THE relationship between De Doctrina Christiana and Paradise ' Lost has been)n 4ispute since the treatise was discovered in 1823, largely because it has been variously assigned to the years before 1640, to those between 1643 and 1645, to those immediately preceding the epic, and to the closing years of Milton's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 254-255
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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