Saturday, July 26, 2008

Baltasar Gracián y Morales, "Village" Pundit

Scott Horton over on Harper's No Comment blog is one of the most interesting thinkers, best-read commentators, and eclectic minds going around. I am (probably tied for) his biggest fan. In his latest offering, he graces us with the original Spanish and the English translation of a piece on civility by the Spanish courtly writer, Gracian, that--except for its grace and elegance--could have sprung from the pen of Bill Safire or David Brooks/Frum:
Culture and Elegance. Man is born a barbarian and raises himself above the beastly by means of culture. Culture therefore makes the man; the more a man, the higher. Thanks to it, Greece could call the rest of the world barbarians. Ignorance is very raw; nothing contributes so much to culture as knowledge. But even knowledge is coarse if without elegance. Not alone must our intelligence be elegant, but our desires, and above all our conversation. Some men are naturally elegant in their internal and external qualities, in their thoughts, in their address, in their dress, which is the rind of the soul, and in their talent, which is its fruit. There are others, on the other hand, who are so crude that everything about them, even their excellences, is tarnished by an intolerable and barbaric disorder.

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