Saturday, August 18, 2007

Housman's Letters

I'm fairly certain that Dennis has already seen this, but just in case and for the benefit of other readers--David Butterfield has reviewed Archie Burnett's The Letters of A.E. Housman, a massive 960-page volume, in BMCR. Here is the lead paragraph:

The name of A. E. Housman (1859-1936) causes an instant reaction in the Classical community. The very intensity, and indeed variety, of sentiments that the letters 'A. E. H.' can evoke is startling when it is considered how few, whether scholars or not, have engaged directly with his Classical work. Housman has never lacked attention from both a deeply respectful following and a firm band, regrettably more numerous, of detractors. It is of course one of the wearying but unsurprising facts of Classical scholarship that each bold and revisionary scholar is met with a less than positive reception. Yet Housman's lot deserves particular attention: why should a man, reserved but polite in company, passionate for accuracy and excellence in print, inspire such strong feelings among academic circles even of the present day? A satisfactory answer to this question remains to be given.

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