QOTD (2011-02-13)

Matthew Arnold, Preface to Essays in Criticism:

And yet, steeped in sentiment as she lies, spreading her gardens to the moonlight, and whispering from her towers the last enchantments of the Middle Age, who will deny that Oxford, by her ineffable charm, keeps ever calling us near to the true goal of all of us, to the ideal, to perfection—to beauty, in a word, which is only truth seen from another side?—nearer, perhaps, than all the science of Tübingen. Adorable dreamer, whose heart has been so romantic! who hast given thyself so prodigally, given thyself to sides and to heroes not mine, only never to the Philistines! home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties!

When, back in September, my exchange partner asked me why I’d wanted to come to Oxford, I struggled to find an answer more credible than simple Anglophilia. But now I understand that I am here because, if there is anything I live for, it is lost causes, truth, and beauty.

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