Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Dilemma of All Human Philosophizing

It is a bold undertaking to pick out a single pair of concepts from a closed system in order to get to the bottom of them. For the "organon" of philosophy is one, and the individual concepts that we may isolate are so intertwined that each sheds light on the others and none can be treated exhaustively outside of its context.

Such is the dilemma of all human philosophizing: truth is but one, yet for us it falls into truths (plural) that we must master step by step. At some point we must plunge in to discover a greater expanse; yet when this broader horizon does appear, a new depth will open up at our point of entry.

[Edith Stein, Potency and Act, Redmond, tr., ICS Publications (Washington, DC: 2009) p. 5.]

Friday, September 15, 2017

Vehement Fire of Charity

Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Genoa, who devoted her life to the sick and ran a hospital. She died in 1510. Her most famous and lasting work, however, is her Treatise on Purgatory, which is probably the most important early modern discussion of the doctrine. It appeared, four decades after her death, in a book about her life; the authenticity of the attribution to her has occasionally been denied, but the evidence, such as it is, tends to favor it, and there is no particular reason other than the work's late public appearance to reject it. It is usually thought, however, to have had some redaction by others, probably at least organizational. From the Treatise on Purgatory, chapter III:

And because there is no good except by participation with God, who, to the irrational creatures imparts Himself as He wills and in accordance with His divine decree, and never withdraws from them, but to the rational soul He imparts Himself more or less, according as He finds her more or less freed from the hindrances of sin, it follows that when he finds a soul that is returning to the purity and simplicity in which she was created, He increases in her the beatific instinct and kindles in her a fire of charity so powerful and vehement that it is insupportable to the soul to find any obstacle between her and her final end; and the clearer vision she has of these obstacles the greater is her pain.

Since the souls in Purgatory are freed from the guilt of sin, there is no barrier between them and God save only the pains they suffer, which delay the satisfaction of their desire.

[St. Catherine of Genoa and Don Cattaneo Marabotto, The Spiritual Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa, TAN (Rockford, IL: 1989) pp. 303-304.]

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Opinio Copiae inter Maximas Causas Inopiae Est

John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, Chapter 1:

I have dwelt so much on the difficulties which at present obstruct any real knowledge by men of the true nature of women, because in this as in so many other things "opinio copiae inter maximas causas inopiae est"; and there is little chance of reasonable thinking on the matter while people flatter themselves that they perfectly understand a subject of which most men know absolutely nothing, and of which it is at present impossible that any man, or all men taken together, should have knowledge which can qualify them to lay down the law to women as to what is, or is not, their vocation. Happily, no such knowledge is necessary for any practical purpose connected with the position of women is relation to society and life. For, according to all the principles involved in modern society, the question rests with women themselves — to be decided by their own experience, and by the use of their own faculties. There are no means of finding what either one person or many can do, but by trying — and no means by which anyone else can discover for them what it is for their happiness to do or leave undone.

Opinio copiae inter maximas causas inopiae est means 'One of the biggest reasons for being impoverished is thinking you have a lot' (literally, 'belief in abundance is among the greatest causes for scarcity', or 'the idea that one is wealthy is one of the major causes of poverty'). It is a quotation of Francis Bacon, in particular from the preface of the Instauratio Magna; Bacon is talking about knowledge, which is why it comes up here; what Mill says immediately after this is entirely in line with the meaning of the saying. It's worth quoting in context, since Mill is likely assuming that the whole passage would be called to mind by his quotation of the key part:

It seems to me that men do not rightly understand either their store or their strength, but overrate the one and underrate the other. Hence it follows that either from an extravagant estimate of the value of the arts which they possess they seek no further, or else from too mean an estimate of their own powers they spend their strength in small matters and never put it fairly to the trial in those which go to the main. These are as the pillars of fate set in the path of knowledge, for men have neither desire nor hope to encourage them to penetrate further. And since opinion of store is one of the chief causes of want, and satisfaction with the present induces neglect of provision for the future, it becomes a thing not only useful, but absolutely necessary, that the excess of honor and admiration with which our existing stock of inventions is regarded be in the very entrance and threshold of the work, and that frankly and without circumlocution stripped off, and men be duly warned not to exaggerate or make too much of them.

Bacon is concerned with arguing for the importance of doing more along the line of what we call scientific inquiry; this, of course, is not the kind of argument Mill is making. But Mill would see less of a division between what we call scientific matters and political or ethical matters than most people would today; political progress would not be sharply divided by him from scientific progress. Thus it's probably not just incidental that he is quoting philosophy of science in a discussion of government. And the basic line of thought has parallel -- before you could have reasonable thought, men would have to recognize that they really know nothing, and therefore need to learn. But in the political context there is an option that does not exist in the context Bacon is discussing: it is not actually necessary for men to learn all they need to know in order to lay down the law for how women should be women -- they can let the experts decide, namely, the women themselves.

David J. Riesbeck has a very nice little paper on the fact that the Latin quotation has often been mistranslated in notes to editions of The Subjection of Women, and why that matters for interpretation of Mill's argument.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Music on My Mind

Clamavi De Profundis, "The Fall of Gil-Galad".


Today is the feast of St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church. A bold and charismatic speaker, he was both popular and controversial, and died in exile because of it; he is best known today for his homiletic commentaries on Scripture.

From his Homily VIII on Philippians:

Taking these things to heart, let us do everything “without murmuring and disputing.” Is it some good work that thou hast before thee, and dost thou murmur? wherefore? art thou then forced? for that there are many about you who force you to murmur, I know well, says he. This he intimated by saying, “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation”; but it is this that deserves admiration, that we admit no such feeling when under galling provocation. For the stars too give light in the night, they shine in the dark, and receive no blemish to their own beauty, yea they even shine the brighter; but when light returns, they no longer shine so. Thus thou too dost appear with the greater lustre, whilst thou holdest straight in the midst of the crooked. This it is which deserves our admiration, the being “blameless”; for that they might not urge this plea, he himself set it down by anticipation.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Berkeley and the Adventures of Gaudentio (Re-Post)

This is a lightly revised re-post of a post from 2014.

In 1737 a work was published in London, Memoirs of Sgr. Gaudentio di Lucca (in later editions it was sometimes published as The Adventures of Sgr. Gaudentio di Lucca). It was a runaway bestseller; it would be reprinted many times and translated into many languages. Since it was published in the eighteenth century when subtitles do the work of blurbs, you can get some idea of the substance of the work from its subtitle (the humor of its length is probably deliberate): taken from his confession and examination before the fathers of the Inquisition at Bologna in Italy. Making a discovery of an unknown country in the midst of the vast deserts of Africa, as ancient, populous, and civilized, as the Chinese ... Copied from the original manuscript kept in St. Mark's library at Venice; with critical notes of the learned Signor Rhedi, late library-keeper of the said library. To which is prefix'd, a letter of the secretary of the Inquisition, to the same Signor Rhedi, giving an account of the manner and causes of his being seized. Faithfully translated from the Italian by E. T. Gent.. It is a work of fiction originally written in English, and telegraphs that fact fairly clearly. It's quite a good book, relatively fast-moving and surprisingly funny, using intricate layers of narration in a highly effective way despite not being all that long; it's not surprising that it became so popular. Historically, it's of significance in part for being a major part of the transition between Utopia novels and Lost World/Dark Continent adventure stories, a precursor of H. Rider Haggard, and one of the works that, because of its popularity, established some of the genre conventions and possibilities for it.

As the work was published pseudonymously, speculation about its author sprang up immediately, and one name seems to have spread most widely: George Berkeley, the philosopher and Bishop of Cloyne. For most of the late eighteenth century most people regarded it as Berkeley's work. I first came across the name of the novel when reading Sir William Forbes's An Account of the Life and Writing of James Beattie; in a letter to the Duchess of Gordon in 1780, Beattie mentions (toward the end) that he is sending her a parcel of books, one of which is Gaudentio; he praises the description of the African deserts, and says, "The author is no less a person than the famous Bishop Berkeley."

Alas, the work is almost certainly not by Berkeley. Indeed, it's difficult to say why it would have been attributed to Berkeley in the first place. It likely lies in a complex set of associations. The humor is (very) broadly of the sort that would have been associated with Jonathan Swift -- Gulliver's Travels had been published a few years before it, and is probably an influence, although Gaudentio is much subtler and strives to be more realistic than Gulliver (not that that is difficult). The earliest attribution I've been able to trace was a review in Gentleman's Magazine not long after it came out; it's vague, but the sense of it seems to be that the reviewer thought that it was by Swift. However, at some point it became associated with Berkeley. And it is true that if you assume that the work originated in Swift's circle, Berkeley is actually the best candidate, particularly give the relative popularity of Alciphron. He was a close friend of Swift and all his circle, and we know from some of his essays and occasional touches in his published works, especially Alciphron, that he is capable of writing broadly Swiftian humor; Berkeley was a Platonist, so might be thought attracted to the idea of writing a Utopia (this was explicitly given as a reason for attributing the work to him in at least one case); he had considerable erudition, including some knowledge of the Ancient Egyptians, which plays a role here; and perhaps more obviously, Gaudentio has a satirical portrait of a freethinker that would likely remind people of the satirical portrait of freethinkers in Alciphron. In addition, Berkeley was known to have traveled in Europe, particularly Italy, and he was famous for his idealistic plan for a school in Bermuda, giving him an association with exotic travel, even though he never visited Africa or even made it to Bermuda. And it has to be admitted that Berkeley has the writing ability for it; he has a knack for description of scenery and can easily blend philosophical and narrative elements.

On the opposing side, however, is the fact that Berkeley's son denied that Berkeley wrote it, or even read it, and if you don't assume that it originated in Swift's circle, there's not much reason to attribute it to Berkeley. It was hardly the first Utopian novel; it was a genre that sold very well at the time. The humor is perhaps harsher and, occasionally, edges up to risqué (an occasional joke is that the narrator pretends that pages got lost right at the moment the narrative gets into discussion of some sexual topic) a bit more than you might expect of Berkeley beforehand. If there's any connection between the satire on freethinkers in Alciphron and the satire on them in Gaudentio, the former had been published in 1735, so it could easily have been an influence on the latter in just the ordinary way. The question was investigated quite well in Notes and Queries, and the argument against Berkeley's authorship seems fairly probable. After the Berkeley attribution began to collapse, people looked around for whomever could be a possible alternative candidate. One suggestion, derived from a later close investigation published in Notes and Queries, was a certain Simon Berington, about whom we know relatively little, but who was probably a Catholic priest, and certainly from an old Catholic family. Later investigation did seem to show that it was a local family tradition that Berington had written the work. And if we compare Gaudentio to other things we're fairly sure Berington wrote, such as A Popish Pagan, a biting and thorough satire of the controversial work of Conyers Middleton, or the work that James Crossley, the second Notes and Queries researcher, used, Dissertations on the Mosaical Creation, there does seem to be some at least broad kinship of humor ideas between the works, and Crossley points out that when one compares the authors quoted or alluded to in the works, there is a fair amount of overlap. It does seem fairly certain, then.

In any case, if you've never read it, it is worth reading, and it is a book that is good enough that it probably should not be allowed to fall into oblivion. As I mentioned before, for a Utopia novel, it is fast-paced, in an H. Rider Haggard sort of way. There is a lot of humor in the work, ranging from the subtle to the blatantly sarcastic. And Berington's use of narrative layering borders on genius -- reading the story, we are reading a supposed translation and edition of a supposed commentary by an Italian scholar of an account by Gaudentio of his adventures, including stories told to him by natives, as recorded in the transcript of an Inquisition investigation, and each layer gets some good use in the story. We travel with Gaudentio to Egypt, where he meets a man called the Pophar, who takes him to his homeland, the forgotten but mighty, wise, and prosperous civilization of Mezzorania, deep in the heart of Africa, and its glorious capital city of Phor, also called No-om or No-Ammon, in which the long-lost civilization of the Ancient Egyptians has had its greatest flowering.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ad Baculum

Ad baculum is a popular entry on fallacy lists. It originally began as a joke -- argument by beating someone into submission -- but, in a pattern that is surprisingly common in the intellectual matters, the joke began to be treated as serious at some point, and thus ad baculum moved from being a joke-argument to being listed as a real fallacy on fallacy lists. But, of course, this raises the question, what is the fallacy in the fallacy of the cudgel? And this is not a straightforward question, either. Seeking something that goes with the name, people have tended to conflate argument ad baculum with threat. The obvious problem with this, of course, is that threats are not generally arguments. Don Levi in 1999 had a nice paper, "The Fallacy of Treating Ad Baculum as a Fallacy", in which he argued that these kinds of analyses typically founder on a failure to recognize the actual goals of threat and intimidation; he proposed that typically the point is to shut down or prevent argument -- it is not an argumentative move at all.

It is, however, a mistake to conflate ad baculum with threat and intimidation. The original point, of course, was just a joke -- 'Here's my argument, the stick' -- but Isaac Watts had recognized that these kinds of labels, like ad verecundiam, were topoi or commonplaces, strategies for picking a middle term for an argument, and for the same reason, it is certainly the case that if we are to take ad baculum as a serious label, it has to cover something like this. There is indeed a kind of argument that has occasionally been called ad baculum that fits the bill. Three examples I have noted before;

Brian Magee on free will (Confessions of a Philosopher, Random House [1990] p. 152):

I am entirely confident that if you subjected any determinist who is not a psychopath, however amoral his life, to outrageous and cruel ill-treatment, he would become indignant with you and protest that you ought not to treat him in that way. Ought and ought not would spring to life for him then, and he would insist on attributing to you the ability to behave otherwise.

Scotus on contingency (Reportatio IA prol. q. iii art. i; in Philosophical Writings, Wolter, tr., Hackett [1993] p. 9):

And so too, those who deny that some being is contingent should be exposed to torments until they concede that it is possible for them not to be tormented.

And, of course Scotus is adapting Avicenna on noncontradiction (ibid., with a minor change):

Those who deny a first principle should be beaten or exposed to fire until they concede that to burn and not to burn, or to be beaten and not to be beaten, are not [the same].

None of these, incidentally, are fallacious -- the baculine link in each case is relevant and appropriate, providing a legitimate way to reach the conclusion drawn (in all of these cases, that a particular position is not something anyone can consistently accept). Any number of other things could in principle work in the same way, and be recognized as nonfallacious; the baculinism is a rhetorical choice that does not affect the basic functioning of the argument.

This relates to the second conflation that has often confused matters in discussing ad baculum arguments; namely, the failure to make a proper distinction between the argumentative move and the rhetorical approach taken in making that move. Ad baculum, like ad verecundiam and similar labels, designates a rhetorical approach exemplified by the link that constitutes the argument; as with those other labels, there is nothing intrinsically fallacious about it. One gets an ad baculum fallacy when one commits an argumentative fallacy that happens to be in ad baculum rhetorical dress. The actual fallacy will be something distinct -- ignoratio elenchi, in fact, which is why ad baculum, when classified as a fallacy, is always classified as a fallacy of irrelevance.

The Educational Machine

...the pupil is now far more defenceless in the hands of his teachers. He comes increasingly from businessmen's flats or workmen's cottages in which there are few books or none. He has hardly ever been alone. The educational machine seizes him very early and organises his whole life, to the exclusion of all unsuperintended solitude or leisure. The hours of unsponsored, uninspected, perhaps even forbidden, reading, the ramblings, and the 'long, long thoughts' in which those of luckier generations first discovered literature and nature and themselves are a thing of the past. If a Traherne or a Wordsworth were born today he would be 'cured' before he was twelve.

C. S. Lewis, The World's Last Night and Other Essays, HarperOne (San Francisco: 2017) p. 43.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fortnightly Book, September 10

Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, born in 1802, generally went by Alexandre Dumas, Dumas being the maiden name of his Haitian grandmother; his father, who did not get along with his own father, had often used it as well. Dumas worked as a scribe for the Duc d'Orleans, who would later become King Louis-Philippe, and while doing that began to write extensively in a wide variety of genres for extra money. He first became famous for his plays. It was his serialized novels more than anything, however, that solidified his name.

The fortnightly book is The Three Musketeers, the first book in his D'Artagnan Romances, originally serialized in 1844. I once read them all, but it has been quite a few years since I last picked this tale of the Gascon and his three friends in the King's Musketeers, from the 'days of less freedom but more independence'. D'Artagnan himself is actual Dumas's free adaptation of a previous d'Artagnan, that of Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras's Mémoires de M. d'Artagnan, who was himself fictionalizing the real-life Charles de Batz de Castelmore d'Artagnan. The real d'Artagnan provides the most basic features of the d'Artagnan story -- he became captain of the Musketeers of the Guard under Louis XIV and died at the Siege of Maastricht -- but Dumas does not really draw on the real d'Artagnan's life. What seemed to have struck him was instead was Courtilz de Sandras's very heavily fictionalized story of d'Artagnan's early life, on which he then built.

A point that does not seem widely to be known is that Dumas co-wrote a lot of his works, and several of Dumas's most famous works were collaborations of this sort with Auguste Maquet, including The Three Musketeers itself. Dumas did the actual detail-work; Maquet functioned as a plot-designer, researcher, and secretary. This approach seems to have been developed by Dumas in the course of writing plays, since it was standard to pass scripts around for modification. In any case, it was because of the fame he developed in theater-work that Dumas became the big-name draw, and publishers did not want to dilute that with a less-known name. By an agreement Maquet's name was left off the title page, but he was paid very well in exchange. Being also a less profligate man than Dumas himself, Maquet died quite wealthy and Dumas poor and heavily in debt, so one can judge for oneself whether it was a good deal. Dumas's own contribution was not slight; he was not merely touching up another author's work but writing the actual vivid, engaging scenes on the basis of someone else's sketch of a story, and there seems good reason to think that he did this with quite a free hand. Some of his contemporaries accused him of running a novel factory and industrializing literature; but no one, I think, can deny that his own literary talents made a significant contribution to the result.

The edition I am using is the complete and unabridged Bantam Classics edition, translated by Lowell Bair.

Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji


Opening Passage:

In a certain reign (whose can it have been?) someone of no very great rank, among all His Majesty's Consorts and Intimates, enjoyed exceptional favor. Those others who had always assumed that pride of place was properly theirs despised her as a dreadful woman, while the lesser Intimates were unhappier still. The way she waited on him day after day only stirred up feeling against her, and perhaps this growing burden of resentment was what affected her health and obliged her often to withdraw in misery to her home; but His Majesty, who could less and less do without her, ignored his critics until his behavior seemed bound to be the talk of all. (p. 3)

Summary: One may be begotten by an Emperor and yet not be a prince; in Imperial Japan, Princes must be designated. The hero of the Tale is the son of a lower-born Intimate; being beautiful and intelligent, his father favors him for the throne, but it is impossible for political reasons, and thus the Emperor, rather than putting him in the line of succession, grants him a surname, Minamoto, making him simply a high-born commoner; thus he is called throughout the work, 'Genji', which means, more or less, Minamoto Name. Genji will later fall in love with one of the Emperor's wives, Fujitsubo; Genji, frustrated by the difficulties of this forbidden love, goes through a series of love affairs which always fail in one way or another. An indiscretion leads to Genji and Fujitsubo having a child, whom everyone thinks is the Emperor's younger son. The Heir Apparent, Genji's half brother, becomes Emperor, and Genji is caught in an indiscretion again, with one of his half-brother's concubines. While the Emperor does not hold it against him, the discovery having been made, he has no choice but to punish Genji, particularly given how much the Emperor's mother hates Genji. Genji is exiled, and while exiled, he has another affair, which results in a daughter. When the Emperor's mother grows ill, the Emperor pardons Genji; and in time, the throne passes to a new Emperor: the son of Genji and Fujitsubo. As the new Emperor knows that Genji is his real father, he raises Genji to the highest rank.

But, as so often happens, Genji's attainment of the heights is also the beginning of a decline. Having been raised so high, he requires an appropriate marriage, but (as also often happens) the marriage purely to correspond to social status is an utter disaster. They have nothing in common and do not get along particularly well. Genji is really in love with a girl know throughout the work as Murasaki, who reminds him of Fujitsubo; when she becomes sick, he abandons his wife for an extended period of time in order to nurse her back to health. Genji's nephew seduces her, and she has a son with him, Kaoru, who is thought by everyone to be Genji's. Murasaki becomes a nun and eventually dies, and Genji fades away shortly thereafter. We learn something of the next generation, in the last chapters, as we follow Kaoru and the prince Niou, who is Genji's grandson by his daughter, and their rivalry for a beautiful princess. The book ends abruptly in the midst of this story, for reasons unknown, but it is clear enough that, for all the mistakes Genji had made, the new generation does not seem to live up to his greatness.

Such is the basic plot, but it is somewhat misleading to summarize a book like this by its plot, because, while well plotted, it is not a plot-driven book. It is common to call The Tale of Genji 'the world's first novel', and it is true that many of the techniques that would later be common among novel-writers are already found here. But I think this fails to do justice to the work, which is a far more ambitious thing than a novel. It is more like a Scandinavian saga, except, instead of warriors and genealogies, it is structured by courtiers and bureaucratic offices. But even sagas are more interested in the narrative movement than we find here. The story gets told, but that's not where the focus is found.

I think the best analogy for thinking about The Tale of Genji is to think of a vast gallery of paintings. The paintings have an order to them, and you can walk through and get a story. But the paintings are really bound more by theme than by story, and to look at the painting only for what it contributes to the story is not actually to look at the painting. Nor would things really suffer by just wandering around the gallery without much worry about the story itself. And the best way to read the book is arguably not to worry much about the story; just look at the paintings. Perhaps this one will strike today, and another one will strike you when you read it again, but there's no need -- fortunately, because there is no possibility -- to take it all in here and now.

The comparison to painting is not accidental. It is difficult to convey how much, and in how many ways, the picturesque dominates the tale. Perhaps the best way to convey it is to quote an extended passage from "The Bluebell" (Chapter 20):

The snow was very deep by now, and more was falling. The waning light set off pine and bamboo prettily from one another, and Genji's face took on a clearer glow. "More than the glory of flowers and fall leaves that season by season capture everyone's heart, it is the night sky in winter, with snow aglitter beneath a brilliant moon, that in the absence of all color speaks to me strangely and carries my thoughts beyond this world; there is no higher wonder or delight. Whoever called it dreary understood nothing."

He had the blinds rolled up. The moon illumined all before them in its single color, while the garden shivered under the weight of snow, the brook uttered pathetic sobs, and desolate ice lay across the lake. Genji had the page girls go down and roll a snowball. Their charming figures and hair gleamed in the moonlight, while the bigger, more knowing ones were lovely in their varied, loosely worn gowns and their night service wear with the sashes half undone; meanwhile their hair, far longer than their gowns, stood out strikingly against the white of the snow. The little ones were a pleasure to watch running about happily, dropping their fans and showing their excited faces. They wanted to roll their snowball even bigger, but for all their struggles it would not budge. Some of them sat on the east end of the veranda, laughing nervously. (p. 373)

This is perhaps more explicit in description than some others, but virtually the entire book consists of paintable scenes. To a great degree, this picturesque character contributes to the book's pervading sense of nostalgia for lost perfections, which gives everything a sort of thematic unity. Everything is written as if it were a scene painted by the memory long after the events depicted.

The work is very poetic, and a number of things converge to make it so. The first is its picturesque character, already mentioned. Another is that the culture it depicts is built entirely on conventions of indirectness. We see part of this in the convention of never naming anyone directly, out of politeness, but it goes much farther than that. As a rule, men and women do not interact face to face, but through screens and fans -- the page girls dropping their fans and showing their faces in excitement over the snow show their youth by doing so. For a man to see a woman is an extraordinary intimacy, and often indicates something sexual. In addition, there are many things that simply cannot be said directly, so instead of saying them directly, they are constantly alluding to them with impromptu verse or writing poems that are intended to suggest -- by word, by allusion, by penstroke, and by carefully crafted paper -- what they cannot say directly. One of the best characters in the book is the one known as Omi no Kami, the Omi daughter, the lost-and-then-rediscovered daughter of Genji's best friend. She was raised in the country, so when she is brought to court, she does not fit in well at all, in part because she simply does not grasp that there are things you are not supposed to say outright. This leads to several scenes that are utterly hilarious in context.

What we find in The Tale of Genji is a story of beautiful life; it depicts a culture of aristocrats whose lives are almost purely aesthetic. Everyone is very human, with very human failings, including Genji himself; but they take being a flawed human being to a high art, and in this much of the attraction of the story lies.

Favorite Passage: A quick scene with the Omi daughter:

"He's the one, he's the one!" she whispered enthusiastically, loud and clear, on the subject of that most exceptionally stalwart young gentleman. It was very painful.

"Boat upon the sea, if you know not where to go, lost among the waves, let me then row out to you, but tell what port is yours!"

her voice rang out. "You always row your little boat back to the same girl! It isn't fair!"

The shocked Captain was wondering who on earth at the Consort's would ever express herself so crudely when he realized with amusement that this must be the young lady of whom he had heard.

"The boatman you see, though uncertain where to go, plaything of the winds, disdains to approach a shore where he has no wish to go."

he replied. That, they say, silenced her. (p. 543)

Recommendation: Highly Recommended, but you should be aware that this is not only a long work, it is a work that cannot be read quickly.


Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji, Royall Tyler, tr. Penguin (New York: 2001).