Dictionary of the Arts

Dictionary of the Arts

Dictionary of the Arts

Dictionary of the Arts

Excerpt

Many years ago I coined an epigram which has, often defaced, been coming back to me ever since, usually as "of unknown origin." It goes: The world contains far too many people who have nothing to say--and persist in saying it. That is a charge which nobody will ever be able to make against DICTIONARY OF THE ARTS.

Yet I have a very grave charge to make. Against myself, for having failed to think of the idea. This is decidedly a book I shall constantly use in my lexicographical and other philological work. Still, I shouldn't, after all, complain, for I have providentially been spared the trouble of inciting some publisher to gather a team of experts and of urging him to get on with the job before some other fellow beat him to it. Instead of writing this introduction--an introduction similar to one that I should endeavor to write for some dear friend and, incidentally, extremely able man at his profession or his trade--I should be writing to the Philosophical Library and thanking them for performing a memorable public service and for doing me, personally, such a good turn.

To employ an idiom popularized by Mr. Evelyn Waugh, I feel that there is something "blush-making" in my writing at all about DICTIONARY OF THE ARTS. Don't get me wrong! Although adult and indeed mature, this dictionary contains nothing that would bring a blush to the most maidenly cheek (Où sont les joues d'antan?); yet one hesitates to write intimately about a happy marriage. That is what we have here. A marriage, consummated and fruitful, between imagination and scholarship.

Since, as the old proverb has it, "there goes more to marriage than four bare legs in a bed," and since what causes marriage to endure is neither passion nor ecstasy but friendship and sympathy, I should like . . .

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