May 23, 2008

An ivy'd hall dream

If only one could come back to this quiet place, where only intellectual achievement counted; if one could work here steeadily and obscurely at some close-knit piece of reasoning, undistracted and uncorrupted by agents [and] contracts...abolishing personal contacts, personal spite, personal jealousies; getting one's teeth into something dull and durable; maturing into solidarity like the Shrewsbury beeches--then, one might be able to forget the wreck and chaos of the past, or see it, at any rate, in a truer proportion. Because, in a sense, it was not important. The fact that one had loved and sinned and suffered and escaped death was of far less ultimate moment than a single footnote in a dim academic journal establishing the priority of a manuscript or restoring the lost iota subscript. It was the hand-to-hand struggle with the insistent personalities of other people, all pushing for a place in the limelight, that made the accidents of one's own personal adventure bulk so large in the scheme of things.

-Harriet Vane contemplating life at Oxford in Gaudy Night

1 comment:

dancinghobbit said...

lovely. good for me to hear right now, as i apply to grad school!