1) Tom Shippey’s TLS review of Christopher Upward and George Davidson’s The History of English Spelling and Richard J. Watts’ Language Myths and the History of English makes both books sound interesting, especially the Watts.
2) John Emerson has done some digging into references in Lolita and presented the results in this Haquelebac post. (I regret his dismissive attitude toward Zoot Sims, but that’s a side issue.) I particularly appreciate his gloss on “the art of being a granddad” (“Certainly a reference to Victor Hugo’s 1877 L’art d’être Grand-Père. Hugo was a highly affectionate grandfather who once told his four-year-old granddaughter that she had a cute ass. He was also one of the horniest bastards who ever lived; his preference in women was ‘the first one who comes along'”) and his explanation of “columbine kisses.”


  1. dearieme says

    “…. the oldest English text. Quite what is, is a good question. The runic inscription on the Ruthwell Cross?”
    In which case perhaps the language might usefully be called Old Dumfriessian? After all, it wouldn’t do to have people assuming that the oldest English text is in England.

  2. Hmm, leaning heavily on Kiernan doesn’t bode well. But I agree that it doesn’t make much sense to include Old English literature in English literature, not if you define a literature as an ongoing conversation. The break between the two is as close to complete as makes no never mind.

  3. The thorough kicking Shippey gives to a couple of Watts’s translations do not inspire me to rush and pick Language Myths up: Shippey seems to damn it with pretty loud damns.

  4. marie-lucie says

    I agree with zythophile. But perhaps the book is interesting without being totally reliable?

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