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Style Reveals the Man

From the October 2020 Print Edition

Writing cannot be taught, as I came to realize after attempting to teach it for thirty years to university students, but it can be learned. One can only teach the mistakes bad writers make and provide examples of what makes good writers good. One cannot teach a love of language, the power of . . . . Continue Reading »

Learning Latin

From the April 2020 Print Edition

Some people acquire foreign languages more easily than others. I, alas, am one of those others. I cannot truly say that I have possession of any foreign language. I have perhaps two hundred or so words of Yiddish—just enough to fool the Gentiles into thinking I know the language, but not . . . . Continue Reading »

Bodily Curiosities

From the January 2020 Print Edition

I am not altogether incurious, but one entity about which I have over the years felt little curiosity is my own body. Until recently, I could not have told you the function of my, or anyone else’s, pancreas, spleen, or gallbladder. I’d just as soon not have known that I have kidneys, and was . . . . Continue Reading »

Big Julie

From the April 2019 Print Edition

James Boswell, who knew a thing or two about hero worship, called Julius Caesar “the greatest man of any age.” Alexander Hamilton told Thomas Jefferson that Caesar was “the greatest man who ever lived.” Theodor Mommsen, in his History of Rome, called Caesar “the sole creative genius . . . . Continue Reading »

The Bookish Life

From the November 2018 Print Edition

The village idiot of the shtetl of Frampol was offered the job of waiting at the village gates to greet the arrival of the Messiah. “The pay isn’t great,” he was told, “but the work is steady.” The same might be said about the conditions of the bookish life: low pay but steady . . . . Continue Reading »