This slender volume is the book that began Helene Hanff's journey -- a path that led eventually to her writing the 84, CHARING CROSS ROAD series. Because I loved her books, I wondered what the master who taught her might have had to say. All I knew of him was what I had learned through Ms. Hanff.
This series of lectures, delivered in England more than nine decades ago, sparkles with a dry wit that is utterly endearing. No wonder his students loved him. Still, for someone who is the product of a late-20th century education, I must admit I was appalled by my ignorance of the classical references he made, expecting that his students would follow them with ease. Not a light-weight book, despite its compact size.
His challenge to his students, put forth in the first lecture, was to become a person [he said a man, but the statement applies to all of us] "of unmistakable intellectual breeding, whose trained judgment we can trust to choose the better and reject the worse." Not a bad goal for anyone, is it?
A word of warning. He quotes in Greek here and there -- and does not translate it, since all his students were expected to understand that language. Ditto Latin.
If you can manage only two chapters, try the first "Inaugural" and the last "On Style."