Saturday, January 24, 2015

Quote of the day (Melville)

Reading an unannotated version of a classic has more drawbacks than advantages, but one of the latter is that it allows one occasionally to pick up allusions for oneself, without aid of an editor's note.  Here's a passage from Melville's Benito Cereno:
But ere long Captain Delano bethought him that, indulgent as he was at the first, in judging the Spaniard, he might not, after all, have exercised charity enough.  At bottom it was Don Benito's reserve which displeased him; but the same reserve was shown towards all but his faithful personal attendant.  Even the formal reports which, according to sea-usage, were, at stated times, made to him by some petty underling, either a white, mulatto or black, he hardly had patience enough to listen to without betraying contemptuous aversion.  His manner on such occasions was, in its degree, not unlike that which might be supposed to have been his imperial countryman's, Charles V., just previous to the anchoritish retirement of that monarch from the throne.
As some will know, the reference is to the abdication of the Habsburg emperor Charles V and his subsequent retirement to a monastery (hence "anchoritish").

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