Not Now, I’m Reading!

Mark Pattison, Isaac Casaubon 1559-1614:

“How tenderly Casaubon was attached to his wife is evident throughout his diary. Even the moments of impatience, consigned to the pages of that secret record, may be taken to prove affection and general harmony. He certainly complains bitterly on one occasion of her interrupting him. But over and above Casaubon’s constitutional fretfulness, we must make allowance for the irritability engendered by a life of hard reading against time. Casaubon thought every moment lost in which he was not acquiring knowledge. He resented intrusion as a cruel injury. To take up his time was to rob him of his only property. Casaubon’s imagination was impressed in a painful degree with the truth of the dictum ‘ars longa, vita brevis.’ As though with a presentiment that the end would come to him early, he struggles, all through a life of harass, to have his time for himself.”

The Correspondence of Isaac Casaubon, 1610-1614

2 thoughts on “Not Now, I’m Reading!

    1. I thought the same thing when I read it! think that the whole paragraph is just a pastiche of classical allusion, because the idea that time is our only property is pretty much just a translation of Seneca.

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