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"...inflated language and other windy humbuggeries..."

Mark Twain, on the chivalric novels of Sir Walter Scott:

The South has not yet recovered from the debilitating influence of his books. Admiration of his fantastic heroes and their grotesque “chivalry” doings and romantic juvenilities still survives here, in an atmosphere in which is already perceptible the wholesome and practical nineteenth-century smell of cotton-factories and locomotives; and traces of its inflated language and other windy humbuggeries survive along with it.

Of Twain's works, I am sorely under-read. I should do something about that. This passage reminds me a lot of Mencken, of whom I'm a big fan. 

April 15, 2017 in Books, History | Permalink


I'm also not as widely read in Twain as I'd like to be, but I think what surprises me about him when I do read him is that he's not quite the writer I expect. On medieval matters, he's also rather charming, because as much as he hated the way the South romanticized the Middle Ages, he was, by his own admission, in love with Joan of Arc. He's harder to figure out than I'd expected, but the effort is worth it.

Posted by: Jeff at Apr 17, 2017 10:57:09 AM

That being said, I still might never crack open Volume 1 of his autobiography, which has been sitting on my shelf for five years. When I asked for it as a Christmas gift, I had no idea how massive it was. Reading it (or even just dabbling) is a daunting prospect.

Posted by: Pete at Apr 17, 2017 3:34:25 PM