Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fragment: Gordon on Kramer and Poebel

 Fragment from: Gordon, Cyrus H. A Scholar’s Odyssey. Biblical Scholarship in North America 20. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000.
He [George Aaron Barton] also published Sumerian texts and gave courses on Sumerian in which Samuel Noah Kramer and I were the only students. Interestingly enough Barton's repelled Kramer and discouraged him from pursuing the language. Years later, however, when he was at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Kramer decided to study Sumerian with Arno Poebel, a great Sumerologist. When Poebel told him "Unless you admit that all your previous education is worthless, I cannot accept you as a student," it was precisely the shock treatment Kramer needed.He studied with Poebel for only a few months, but the experience was so intense that it proved to be the foundation on which Kramer's career as a famous Sumreologist was built.
p. 18

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Fragment: A terrible teacher

Fragment from: Kramer, Samuel Noah. In the World of Sumer. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986.
Pedagogically speaking Peobel was a terrible teacher, no better in some ways than my Talmud teachers of yeshivah days who chose to teach the laws of divorce before those of marriage. But in other respects he was stimulating and inspiring, at least for me - and I was at times the only one attending his classes. His speech was rather slow and monotonous; his English was far from idiomatic; he was given to numerous and prolonged digressions and tended to be repetitive and diffuse. But none of these pedagogical failings were defects as far as I was concerned. Not blessed with a quick mind or a superior memory, I found that Poebel's repetitions, digressions, and obiter dicta were just what I needed to help me understand and digest the principles of Sumerian grammar underlying  the intricate and often misleading cuneiform system of writing, as well as the methodology of transforming the dead inscriptions into living informants.
p. 38

Fragment: Nimrud sleeps

Fragment from: Christie, Agatha. Agatha Christie: An Autobiography. London: Collins, 1977.
As for the mound itself, it lost its early beauty, owing to all the great dumps.  Gone was that innocent simplicity, with the stone heads poking up out of the green grass, studded with red ranunculus. The flocks of bee-eaters - lovely little birds of gold, green and orange, twittering and fluttering over the mound - still came every spring, and a little later the rollers, bigger birds, also blue and orange, which had a curious way of falling suddenly and clumsily from the sky - hence their name. In the legend, they had been punished by by Ishtar by being bitten through the wing because they had insulted her in some way.
Now Nimrud sleeps.
We have scarred it with our bulldozers. Its yawning pits have been filled in with raw earth. One day its wounds will have healed, and it will bloom once more with early spring flowers.
Here was once Calah, that great city. Then Calah slept. ...
Here came Max Mallowan and his wife. Now again Calah sleeps.
Who shall disturb it next?
We do not know.
p. 514

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fragment: My way of thanking him

Fragment from: Collingwood, Robin George. An Autobiography. London: Oxford Unversity Press, 1939.
Because an autobiography has no right to exist unless it is un livre de bonne foi, I have written candidly, at times disapprovingly about men whom I admire and love. If any of these should resent what I have written, I wish him to know that my rule in writing books is never to name a man except honoris causa, and that naming anyone personally known to me is my way of thanking him for what I owe to his frienship, or his teaching, or his example, or all three.
p. [i]