A Lifetime Finding Faults

A.S.F. Gow, A.E. Housman: A Sketch

“It must further be noted that as time went on some change was observable in the style of his attacks. The old love of truth remained, and to the end he would be found reading every word of books whose insignificance must have been apparent in ten pages, and making remorseless catalogues of their shortcomings. That was in accordance with his principles of reviewing; ‘I have spent most of my time in finding faults, because finding faults, if they are real and not imaginary, is the most useful sort of criticism.’ There were flashes also of the old wit, but it was used with less venom and directed rather to the frailties and follies of the human mind than at the individual. In his earlier controversies he had written as though he wished to hurt his opponent; in recent years, though exceptions can be found, it was commonly not so.”

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