In graduate school I took a class with the French semiotician Michael Riffaterre, who one day told a story about refusing to study Latin as a child. His father was concerned enough about this that he brought a famous local writer over to the house to convince his son of the importance of learning Latin. This is how the eminent man convinced the stubborn child: "My dear boy, if you do not learn Latin, how will you quote?"
I will devote my last blog of the week to answering that question. I'll begin with this remark by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which ended up on the cutting room floor of the post I wrote about the paintings of Michele Araujo, and which I first read in a beautiful and soon-to-be-published book by Lisa Cohen called All We Know:
Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests and mines and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors. And this grasping inventor puts all nations under contribution.
And here is the work of a ...