Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for January 9th, 2015

The power of ignorance

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Portrait of Lytton Strachey by Dora Carrington

The history of the Victorian Age will never be written: we know too much about it. For ignorance is the first requisite of the historian—ignorance, which simplifies and clarifies, which selects and omits, with a placid perfection unattainable by the highest art…It is not by the direct method of a scrupulous narration that the explorer of the past can hope to depict that singular epoch. If he is wise, he will adopt a subtler strategy. He will attack his subject in unexpected places; he will fall upon the flank, or the rear; he will shoot a sudden, revealing searchlight into obscure recesses, hitherto undivined. He will row out over that great ocean of material, and lower down into it, here and there, a little bucket, which will bring up to the light of day some characteristic specimen, from those far depths, to be examined with a careful curiosity.

Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians

Written by nevalalee

January 9, 2015 at 7:30 am

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