Reading Joan Acocella’s piece “All England,” on renderings of The Canterbury Tales in “translation” (that is, in modernized English), made me remember this observation, which as an undergrad I wrote in pencil on the inside front cover of my Chaucer:
Anyone who is too lazy to master the comparatively small glossary necessary to understand Chaucer deserves to be shut out from the reading of good books forever.I remember that I used a large paper clip to hold together the thirty or forty pages preceding the glossary, which was, yes, small. The clip made it easier to flip to the glossary and not be shut out from the reading of good books forever. It was life B.P.E. (Before the Post-it Note Era). The nationwide sale of Post-it Notes began in 1980.
Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading (New York: New Directions, 1960), 99.
Acocella’s piece appears in the December 21, 2009 issue of The New Yorker (online for subscribers only).