Friday, November 7, 2008

Strauss on England

This is from letter 23 to Klein in 1934:

"As for Oxford, it is a wonder of the world (Tubingen is merely a distant
imitation). A city of cloisters, in which Prime Ministers, viceroys
from India, and chief bishops of York and Canterbury, among others,
have been educated. The aesthetic impression -- compared with
everything continental -- is grim, plump, of a kind of barbaric
magnificence; matching that, the cloudy heaven was always somewhat
nebulous - in a word, "form-less," therefore very much to my taste. In
the cathedral there was a remarkable saxon-style stained glass window. That
before the meals a Latin prayer would always be spoken, and so on, was
almost self-explanatory. No other people understands so well as do the
English the importance of preserving traditions, and they are always
prepared to make new ones -- they are empiricists in the best sense.
Failing to understand that, one would underestimate the meaning of the
English monarchy. -- There was recently a debate in the Commons
between Churchill and Baldwin, which would not have been entirely
unworthy of the Roman senate. To sum up: a wonderful people and
wonderful country."

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