First sentence of an essay - Hollyhock Fields
or the first sentences of an essay.
Nothing human, then, was alien to him. The world was his subject, and he esteemed hard facts about it, positing that "art is bad when it is poor in news," praising Louis Agassiz's "eloquence of information," and declaring that Thoreau's "descriptions are beautiful not because he is out to write poetic prose but because they are accurate and meticulously responsible as to information." He was drawn to the odd, striking detail: The last book Wittgenstein read was Black Beauty; America's first forks came from Bordeaux, in France; the University of Texas library contains "pioneer Bibles . . . bound in Indian skin." And he enjoyed making lists of scattered but thematically related data: "The world's last copy of Catullus was found in the Renaissance, used by monks to bung a wine-barrel. Most of an ancient copy of the book of Isaiah was found by a shepherd chunking rocks into a cave in Israel, by way of boredom. Boswell's diaries turned up one day in a trunk in an attic." To read Davenport on anything was to learn about many things: In the first sentence of an essay on E. E. Cummings he tells us that "Ancient Greek poets wrote without spaces between their words, without capital letters, and without punctuation."
First Sentence of Literary Analysis Essay
Housman was neither the first nor the last to suffer in this way. Charles Badham, one of his scholarly heroes, had done only a little better, gaining a third in Greats and ending up in exile, first as a Birmingham headmaster, later as a professor of classics in Sydney. Well after Housman's time, public schoolboys went up to Oxford after a decade of immersion in Greek and Latin - reading, translating, repetition, composition - to find more of the same in Mods. But Greats plunged them into alien fields - notably, into the convoluted world of Oxford philosophy. Charles Stevens went up to New College in 1922, armed with a scholarship and a thorough grounding in classics at Winchester. He gained a first in Mods, but plunged to a third in Greats; a disaster which blighted the rest of his life. His philosophy tutor was H. W. B. Joseph, notorious for his long silences and for spending an hour dissecting the first sentence of an essay. The Oxford analytical style may well have destroyed Stevens' confidence in his own abilities; the scepticism it brought with it probably undercut the conventional Anglicanism he had learned in home and school. In later life, he turned to a kind of animistic pantheism. Stevens' story cannot be taken as representative; I mention it because it is documented, and to make the point that styles of scholarship are not just patterns in glass bead game. Different styles of work make a difference both to scholarship and to those who practise it; conflicts and discontinuities, as in Stevens' case, can be disastrous.