Monday, December 14, 2015

Fragment: I was in despair

Fragment from: Wilson, John A. Thousands of Years: An Archaeologist’s Search for Ancient Egypt. New York: Scribner, 1972.
Sprengling knew that he would be out of the country at the time of my oral examination in later May 1926. He told me not to worry about any testing of my ability in Classical Arabic as he had been satisfied with my performance in class. So I dropped that field out of my consideration and I boned up assiduously on other subjects. The examination itself dragged on for three hours. For well over two hours Breasted  took me over the hurdles in hieroglyphic, hieratic, and history. The rest of the department sat back in boredom. Since Breasted's current interests were pretty well known, that long grind went off satisfactorily. Then he turned me over to the other examiners. There were a few desultory questions, and my answers were less precise because I was rather weary by that time.  Then Breasted announced that, since the examiner in Arabic was not present, he himself would set some questions. The shock of that unexpected attack emptied my brain. Not only could I not translate the Arabic, I could not even pronounce it. It was a sorry performance.
At long last I was excused and went outside into the museum to wait for the examining committee to make its decision. I was in despair. How could they pass me after such a collapse? The wait seemed interminable. Finally the secretary of the Department, George Allen, came out to summon me. In his characteristically cautious way he told me first that they had been disappointed. Then he went on to elaborate: instead of passing me summa cum laude, they have been forced to pass me only magna cum laude.
page 46.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fragment: "beautiful and amiable women"

Fragment from: Layard, Austen Henry. Sir Henry Layard Autobiography and Letters from His Childhood until His Appointment as H.M. Amdassador to Madrid Edited by the Hon. William N. Bruce, with a Chapter on His Parliamentary Carreer by the Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Otway. 2 volumes vols. London: John Murray, 1903.
At Aleppo I found Mr Mitford, who, tired of waiting for me, was about to continue his journey towards Baghdad. He had established himself in a small lodging in the Christian quarter outside the town, where I joined him. We remained there together for a week, spending  most of our time with our kind and hospitable friends, the Barkers, who collected in their house the best native and the only European society in the city. There with pleasant and instructive conversation, for there  were at that time several accomplished and interesting men residing in Aleppo, with beautiful and amiable women; and with picnics in the gardens and the neighbourhood which were then in the full glories of Spring, the few days we could spare passed too rapidly away. I still look back to that short week, which is like an oasis in my toilsome and lonely wanderings.
page 283.

“Confessions of a Humble Country Historian.”

Reading autobiographies outside of the area of scholars of Antiquity.  This one is very interesting.

Enteen, George M. “Confessions of a Humble Country Historian.” Perspectives on History, May 1997.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Fragment: It is best to slip away...

Fragment from Murray, Margaret Alice. My First Hundred Years. London: W. Kimber, 1963. 
Though I ought to have regarded myself long ago as being on the shelf, I have deliberately refused to go on that uncomfortable flat resting-place, and continue to do some research, which I hope may be of use to other researchers. Now I would give a piece of advice to those about to retire from a post they have held for years. Never allow your colleagues to give you that heart-breaking ceremony "a good send-off", i.e. a big dinner followed by speeches in your honour, with possibly the presentation of  some object to which all your friends have subscribed. The recipient of these tokens of esteem and affection will know when he comes to reply that he is no longer a part of the organization which has been a part of his life, and that knowledge will try his self-control to its utmost limits. It is best to slip away without formality, and to stay away until your successor is firmly established.
Not having had "a good send-off" into limbo, and not liking the dullness of that dismal place, I set out to have a new career, and went out to Petrie's dig in Palestine...
page 105.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fragment: Collaboration

Fragment from: Gardiner, Alan H. My Working Years. London: Coronet Press, 1962.
One day [Battiscomb] Gunn brought me a sheaf of articles on different points of Egyptian Grammar which he had written without my knowledge, and which he wished to submit to my criticism. To my great astonishment these articles included syntactical discoveries of the greatest importance. It is possible, or even probable that the original  work reflected much of our common discussions, but many of Gunn's results were entirely new to me, and I was greatly excited thus to become acquainted with things which could not be described otherwise than as epoch-making. But now Gunn asked me to hand back his typescripts because as he said 'I wish to make some additions and reconsider some points'. To this I replied that he had worked at my expense for a number of years without  giving me any quid pro quo and that I intended to keep his articles and to get them printed. He was very angry with this ultimatum of mine, but he had no choice but to accept it, and I carried out my threat and--made his reputation! In Germany, Gunn's Studies in Egyptian Syntax (1924) created great interest and, in particular, Sethe never tired of referring in his lectures to die Gunnische Regel! I daresay that my treatment of my old friend Gunn in this matter was unpleasantly dictatorial, but it was not long before he forgave me, as will be seen from the paragraph of acknowledgments which I quoted above. It will be seen from the bibliography of Gunn which his Egyptian pupil, Bakir, compiled after his death (Ann. du Serv. L. 423-5) that his subsequent publications were relatively meager when viewed in the light of his indisputable genius, but for this there were two reasons, firstly that he was an incorrigible perfectionist and, secondly, because he became enthusiastically absorbed in teaching, an occupation in which he achieved great success, see JEA XXXV, 105.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fragment: Who's it for?

Fragment from Grene, David. Of Farming & Classics: A Memoir. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
The obvious answer as to an audience is one's family. Yes, this is written for my family. But not only the family. Maybe the oddity of the conjunction of my two interests, farming and classical literature, is the reason for describing the way I went. I rather doubt it, for so odd it isn't, though a little unusual. Maybe the book is due to a warmth of feeling for the two professions, some perhaps misguided zeal for two causes not very high on the world's popularity list. That's nearer it I think. Or maybe it's just a rechewing of the joys of the past, and sometime their opposites. I know that many people believe in the genuine isolation of the past: let it bury its own dead, its successes, its failures; continuity is the supreme illusion. I have never been able to see it like that.
page 4.

Fragment: Parentage

Fragment from: Scarborough, William Sanders. The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship. Edited with an Introduction by Michele Valerie Ronnick. African American Life Series. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005.

According to the census of 1850 there were in the state of Georgia [in the decade of my birth] 193 free colored males between the ages of twenty and thirty. Mu father, Jeremiah Scarborough, was one of this number having been set free some years before by his master who was convinced that slavery was wrong and washed his hands of the stain. The same census give 287 as the number of free colored females in Georgia between the ages of twenty and thirty. My mother. Frances Gwynn, was not included in this number.
page 23.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fragment: Slander

Fragment from: Meissner, Bruno. Verleumdung. Zeuthen: Selbstverlage des Verfassers, 1933.
Die nationalsozialistische Bewegung hat neben vielem anderen aus das Gute gezeitigt, das wir alle uns mehr als früher mit Rassenforschung und Familiengeschichte befassen. Jeder will wissen, wie seine Voreltern hiessen, wann, wo und wie sie lebten, und ob sie arischer Herkunft waren. Allerdings interessieren sich auch Fremde manchmal mehr als nötig für solche Dinge und suchen, meist ohne auf die Quellen zurückzugehen, teils in gut- teils in bösartiger Absicht nachzuweisen, dass irgend jemand, auf den sie ihr Augenmerk gerichtet haben, Jude oder mindestens Halbjude sei. Gegen derartige Unterstellungen, wenn sie unzutreffend sind, muss natürlich scharf Front gemacht werden. Leider bin auch ich in eine solche unangenehme Lage gekommen.
page 5.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fragment: Audience

Fragment from Donker van Heel, Koenraad. The Three Muskebeers: Down and Out in Paris and Pisa. [Leiden], 1993.
This booklet is merely meant to serve as a souvenir for those who are willing & and able to procure & appreciate it. That is, for those who appreciate how to wield an axe. There is something for those, who appreciate the razorsharp variety & something for those who only understand the blunt. There is also something for those, who don't understand anything at all.
page [i].