I knew I was speaking stiffly, artificially, even bookishly, in fact, I could not speak except "like a book." But that did not trouble me: I knew, I felt that I should be understood and that this very bookishness
might be an assistance.
The "contagion of bookishness
" is one way in which the middle-class revolution in reading makes itself felt for De Quincey: the proliferation of genres like "popular tales" and "journalism" is leading to a dangerous shift in the societal balance of linguistic power.
It would be good to be able to regress a little in this sphere." How's this for cut-rate La Rochefoucauld: "Vanity without foundation in either physical beauty or true talent is one of the most pathetic of human spectacles." And this, which shows perhaps too great bookishness
to qualify for real originality: "To have a silly judgment from someone one cares about is to understand the accuracy of E.
Vladimov purposely blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction, as he himself has stated, to be "free from the tiresome bookishness
of historians" (435, appendix).
Romance as a tradition, bookishness
, the past, not as nostalgia (or loss) but artifact (the exotic).
Even the stylistic ties to print are disappearing: Black-and-white photographs have been left behind for color, and margins have been lost in favor of the full-bleed photo, as if the pictures were resisting bookishness
In her early study of Lady Jane Grey, Jane Austen anticipated both Mary Bennet's bookishness
and the accusation of bookishness
thrown at Elizabeth.
Bagehot possessed abundantly a gift he discerned in Shakespeare: an "experiencing nature." He delighted in what he called "the grand shine on the surface of life." A central word for him is "enjoyment." Keenly moral, he abominated moralism: "Nothing is more unpleasant," he wrote, "than a virtuous person with a mean mind." Likewise, though formidably learned himself, he regularly cautioned against bookishness
. "He wrote poetry ...
is the major blemish I note in Clampitt's poetry, I can imagine other objections to it.
Illiterate, inelegant, and untraveled, he nevertheless, because of his physical strength, his savvy and his rumored friendship with criminal big shots, acquired great prestige in my eyes." This dubious role model turns his more bookish son (bookishness
here being a sign of rebellion) into a thief of language--but not before he passes through his own more literal criminal initiation as an adolescent member of a violent street gang.
Damien Echols, a nascently charismatic iconoclast, was deemed the mastermind, probably thanks to his heavy-metal bookishness
. When I saw the documentary three years ago, I became enamored of Echols as he defended a series of red underlines in a book on witchcraft he bought for five cents at a library sale, as well a journal entry copying a damning quote from Shakespeare.
As Uglow said to me, "Maybe some people are making footnotes where they're not needed, where they're not necessary." When we talked late this summer, I sought to stave off bookishness
. Aiming to avoid the dramatic rhythms or the historical or ideological or philosophical pigeonholing of critical writing, I wanted to stay as close as possible to the surface of the works we were looking at together.