Category Archives: Quotations

Italian pride

Stendhal’s love of gossip, acerbic comment and piercing observation throw up a continual stream of delight. Here he is, in 1816, on Italian pride speaking truth to power. In Bologna, it would take more courage than I possess to hint … Continue reading

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Teachers’ status

One of  my Italian relatives has found this interesting apophthegm about the status of teachers and reposted it on Facebook.  Translated, it says: “In Japan, the only citizens not obliged to bow to the Emperor are teachers.  This is because … Continue reading

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Cold wind

The freshening cold winds of autumn in southern England always bring to mind some delightful lines of poetry I’ve collected over the years.  To introduce some here, I’d like to recall reading an interview by the actress Angie Dickinson, in … Continue reading

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An Estonian in Paris

For a rich young Estonian aristocrat, a decorated officer in the victorious allied armies entering Paris in March 1814, the city was clearly a paradise in which he could live life to the full; in his case, very much a … Continue reading

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Race the servants

Some index entries are even more interesting than the content of the book itself.  The index to Richard Coe’s translation of Stendhal‘s Rome, Naples and Florence (Calder, 1959) contains gems like this for which there are no actual referents in … Continue reading

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Heaven and Hell

A famous joke, probably politically incorrect, first told to me by an Armenian businessman in East Africa 27 or so years ago: HEAVEN is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian, and … Continue reading

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Poems by Rumi

Until last month, I confess, I had never even heard of the Persian poet and Sufi mystic Jalal ad-Dïn Muhammad Rumi, ‘Mawlana‘ (1207-1273).  I am indebted to Estelle Gillingham for her recently quoting the great philosopher online.  From Rumi’s extensive … Continue reading

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The English, by a German

In this Jubilee and Olympics year, it’s interesting to go back 400 years or so and come across this description of the English.  It is from a book found by Project Gutenberg and called Travels in England during the reign … Continue reading

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Employer employee relations

A vignette from that master of gossip, John Aubrey.  Discussing Sir William Petty (died 1687) he suddenly diverts us with this little tale: Sir William Petty had a boy that whistled incomparably well. He after wayted on a Lady, a … Continue reading

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Napoleon to the Prince Regent

How nobly French can be written when the writer is as well educated, perceptive and realist as Napoleon was when he addressed this letter to the Prince Regent (who wanted to reply, but his ministers stopped him).

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