The Art of Reading Slowly

This is a blog about language and literature. I’ve always been fascinated by words, by how words form sentences, and how sentences form poems and stories. The technical term for this fascination is philology—the love of language. Friedrich Nietzsche defined philology as the art of reading slowly—that’s where I got the title for this blog. In the section titled What is Philology? I discuss what I take to be the four major components of philology: historical linguistics, the editing of texts, the interpretation of language in context, and the interpretation of literature with special attention to language. I’m interested in all of these, and I will post blogs on all of them, but my own work lies primarily in the third and fourth areas. 

I created this site as an invitation for anyone who has a passion for literature—readers and writers of all sorts. I would like to think of this blog as one part of a conversation among people who share an interest in the way language works and the way it turns into art. Please feel free to enter the conversation by dropping me a note with your reactions to my posts or with your own thoughts. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Karen L. Hogan, who did all the hard work of designing and mounting this blog. Without her help it wouldn’t have happened.

About Matthew Clark

My Most Recent Blog Posts

More on Character Sketches

In my previous post (“Cather’s Characters”, posted 16 July), I discussed fifteen character sketches in Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark (and a couple of sketches in Jane Austen’s Emma). I noted that all the sketches in The Song of the Lark concern secondary or tertiary characters. There is no sketch of the principal … Continue reading More on Character Sketches

Cather’s Characters

I my previous post I began to discuss the little character sketches in Willa Cather’s novel, The Song of the Lark. There are, by my count, fifteen of these. Here’s a list of the sketches I’ve found: 1. Thea Kronborg’s mother, p. 14–15.2. Thea’s father, pp. 17-18.3. Thea’s aunt Tillie, pp. 20–21.4. Thea’s friend, Mrs. … Continue reading Cather’s Characters

Precious Bodily Fluids

I. The ancient Greek word “spora” (σπορά) meant “seed”. The modern English word “spore” doesn’t quite mean “seed”, but it does mean one of the stages in the reproduction cycle of fungi, such as molds, yeast, or mushrooms, and of some non-flowering plants, such as ferns. The ancient Greek “sporadên” (σποράδην) means “spread or scattered … Continue reading Precious Bodily Fluids

Think, Thank, Thunk

English verbs (and verbs in some related languages) can be divided into two types. One type makes its past tense and past participle by adding a dental suffix, which is pronounced “d” (“I love, I loved, I have loved”) or “ed” (“I want, I wanted, I have wanted) or “t” (“I walk, I walked, I … Continue reading Think, Thank, Thunk