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Logan Pearsall Smith (18 October 1865 – 2 March 1946) was an American-born essayist and critic, and a notable writer on historical semantics.

Smith was born in Millville, New Jersey[1] the son of the prominent Quakers Robert Pearsall Smith and Hannah Whitall Smith. His father's family had become wealthy from its glass factories. He lived for a time as a boy in England, and later attended Haverford College and Harvard College; in his 1938 autobiography he describes how in his youth he came to be a friend of Walt Whitman in the poet's latter years. Smith later studied at Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1891. He then settled in England with occasional forays to continental Europe and became a British citizen in 1913. He divided his time between Chelsea, where he was a close friend of Desmond MacCarthy, and a Tudor farmhouse near the Solent, called "Big Chilling". Smith employed a succession of young secretary/companions to help him. This post was Cyril Connolly's first job in 1925 and he was to be strongly influenced by Smith. Robert Gathorne-Hardy succeeded Connolly in this post.[2]

Smith was an authority on 17th century divines. He was known for his aphorism and epigrams, and his Trivia has been highly rated. He was a literary perfectionist and could take days refining his sentences.[2] With Words and Idioms he became a recognised authority on the correct use of English. He is now probably most remembered for his autobiography Unforgotten Years (1938). He was much influenced by Walter Pater. As well as his employees listed, his followers included Desmond MacCarthy, John Russell, R. C. Trevelyan, and Hugh Trevor-Roper. He was, in part, the basis for the character of Nick Greene / Sir Nicholas Greene in Virginia Woolf's Orlando.

Gathorne-Hardy described Pearsall Smith as "a largish man with a stoop that disguised his height",[3] while Kenneth Clark wrote "His tall frame, hunched up, with head thrust forward like a bird, was balanced unsteadily on vestigial legs".[4]

Smith's sister Alys was the first wife of philosopher Bertrand Russell, and his sister Mary married the art historian Bernard Berenson.

Contents

Works

  • 1895. The Youth of Parnassus, and other stories
  • 1902. Trivia
  • 1907. The Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton. Biography
  • 1909. Songs and Sonnets
  • 1912. The English Language
  • 1919. A Treasury of English Prose
  • 1920. Little Essays Drawn From The Writings Of George Santayana
  • 1920 (ed.). Donne's Sermons: Selected Passages with an Essay
  • 1920. Stories from the Old Testament retold. Hogarth Press
  • 1921. More Trivia
  • 1923. English Idioms
  • 1925. Words and Idioms
  • 1927. The Prospects of Literature. Hogarth Press
  • 1930 (ed.) The Golden Grove: Selected Passages From The Sermons and Writings of Jeremy Taylor
  • 1931. Afterthoughts
  • 1933. All Trivia. Collection
  • 1933. Last Words
  • 1933. On Reading Shakespeare
  • 1936. Fine Writing
  • 1937. Reperusals & Recollections
  • 1938. Unforgotten Years
  • 1940. Milton and His Modern Critics
  • 1943. A Treasury Of English Aphorisms
  • 1949 (ed.). A Religious Rebel: The Letters of "H.W.S." (Mrs. Pearsall Smith). Published in the USA as Philadelphia Quaker, The Letters of Hannah Whitall Smith
  • 1949 (ed.). The Golden Shakespeare
  • 1972. Four Words. Romantic, Originality, Creative, Genius
  • 1982. Saved from the Salvage. With a Memoir of the Author by Cyril Connolly
  • 1989 (Edward Burman, ed.) Logan Pearsall Smith. Anthology.

References

  1. ^ Logan Pearsall Smith Manuscripts, 1881-1943, Kent State University. Accessed February 11, 2008,
  2. ^ a b Jeremy Lewis Cyril Connolly: A Life Jonathan Cape 1997
  3. ^ Robert Gathorne-Hardy Recollections of Logan Pearsall Smith: The Story of a Friendship Constable 1949
  4. ^ Kenneth Clark Another Part of the Wood Murray 1974

Sources

  • Robert Gathorne-Hardy (1949) Recollections of Logan Pearsall Smith
  • John Russell, ed. (1950) A Portrait of Logan Pearsall Smith drawn from His letters and Diaries
  • Barbara Strachey (1980) Remarkable Relation: The Story of the Pearsall Smith Family
  • Edwin Tribble, ed. (1984) A Chime of Words: The Letters of Logan Pearsall Smith

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.
The truth is that the phenomena of artistic production are still so obscure, so baffling, we are still so far from an accurate scientific and psychological knowledge of their genesis or meaning, that we are forced to accept them as empirical facts; and empirical and non-explanatory names are the names that suit them best.
Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find his own.
The indefatigable pursuit of an unattainable perfection, even though it consist in nothing more than the pounding of an old piano, is what alone gives a meaning to our life on this unavailing star.

Logan Pearsall Smith (October 18, 1865March 2, 1946) was an American essayist and critic.

Contents

Sourced

  • The emergence of a new term to describe a certain phenomenon, of a new adjective to designate a certain quality, is always of interest, both linguistically and from the point of view of the history of human thought. That history would be a much simpler matter (and language, too, a much more precise instrument) if new thoughts on their appearance, and new facts at their discovery, could at once be analysed and explained and named with scientific precision. But even in science this seldom happens; we find rather that a whole complex group of facts, like those for instance of gas or electricity, are at first somewhat vaguely noticed, and are given, more or less by chance, a name like that of gas, which is an arbitrary formation, or that of electricity, which is derived from the attractive power of electrum or amber when rubbed — the first electric phenomenon to be noticed.
  • The truth is that the phenomena of artistic production are still so obscure, so baffling, we are still so far from an accurate scientific and psychological knowledge of their genesis or meaning, that we are forced to accept them as empirical facts; and empirical and non-explanatory names are the names that suit them best. The complete explanation of any fact is the very last step in human thought; and it is reached, as I have said, if indeed it is ever reached, by the preliminary processes of recognition, designation, and definition. It is with these preliminary processes that our aesthetic criticism is still occupied.
    • "Four Romantic Words" in Words and Idioms : Studies in the English Language (1925), § VI

Afterthoughts (1931)

  • The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists in the circulation of their blood.
    • Age and Death
  • Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find his own.
    • Age and Death
  • I cannot forgive my friends for dying; I do not find these vanishing acts of theirs at all amusing.
    • Age and Death
  • What music is more enchanting than the voices of young people, when you can't hear what they say?
    • Age and Death
  • The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.
    • Art and Letters
  • It is the wretchedness of being rich that you have to live with rich people.
    • In the World
  • To suppose, as we all suppose, that we could be rich and not behave as the rich behave, is like supposing that we could drink all day and keep absolutely sober.
    • In the World
  • How many of our daydreams would darken into nightmares if there seemed any danger of their coming true!
    • Life and Human Nature
  • There are few sorrows, however poignant, in which a good income is of no avail.
    • Life and Human Nature
  • There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.
    • Life and Human Nature
  • The indefatigable pursuit of an unattainable perfection, even though it consist in nothing more than the pounding of an old piano, is what alone gives a meaning to our life on this unavailing star.
    • Life and Human Nature
  • People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.
    • Myself
  • How can they say my life is not a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten?
    • Myself
  • All Reformers, however strict their social conscience, live in houses just as big as they can pay for.
    • Other People
  • Most people sell their souls, and live with a good conscience on the proceeds.
    • Other People
  • When they come downstairs from their Ivory Towers, Idealists are very apt to walk straight into the gutter.
    • Other People

All Trivia: Trivia, More Trivia, Afterthoughts, Last Words (1933)

  • Thank heavens, the sun has gone in, and I don't have to go out and enjoy it.
    • "Last words" — these are not actually Smith's last words, but a section title)

External links

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