She caught a fair amount of flak when she originally published some remarks on the way the Corpus Christi professor of latin at Oxford, Eduard Fraenkel, used to grope female undergraduates. So it took some chutzpah to choose this piece for republication. I can only say that this observation seems as daft to me as ever. Beard has an amazingly wide range of interest and enthusiasm, so it is diverting to note that she has a few blind spots. She raps him over the knuckles for a single Greek translation error, maybe a hard standard for a time without dictionaries or Penguin Classics.
But this frank expression of taste is all part of the zeal and commitment that make this energetic collection such a pleasure to read.
The Teacher Who Inspired “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” | The New Yorker
For professionals and lay readers alike, this volume is worth reading cover to cover. Classicists are lucky to have Mary Beard as an advocate for their subject. More importantly, the reading public are lucky to have her as an ambassador from the world of classics. He is finishing a book on why there is a literature in the Latin language. Sponsored Want to help combat climate change? Denis Feeney. Thu, Oct 17, , First published: Sat, May 25, , Start by planting a tree. Electric vehicles are gathering pace. Ulster University Business School: closing the skills gap.
Subscriber Only. Who Am I, Again? With Miss Kay I liked mental arithmetic and long division and multiplication sums, and those spelling lists, and found grammar thoroughly enjoyable. But it is in another letter that Elizabeth Vance brings back to me the flavor and sense of Miss Kay in her classroom sixty years ago.
Cathie Davie now Semeonoff , a brilliant scholar and school Dux, was a senior girl when I was still a junior. She excelled at everything—acting, poetry composition, mathematics, English. I had never known quite such an intellectual; even my clever cousin Mossie, who collected gold medals in medical school, seemed less intelligent. Cathie seemed unaware of her talents. I saw comparatively little of her, but, as she lived near me and took the same route home at lunchtimes and in the afternoons, I used to catch up with her and sometimes introduce a topic. Whatever it was, she would discourse upon it without divergence while traversing the leafy avenues of the Links.
I was fascinated.
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She discussed Chaucer or Spenser as living people, but living people she never discussed at all. Cathie was infinitely kind. But I think Miss Kay would have felt very happy about the imposed bright colors.
She loved colors. She taught us to be aware of them. She could never accept drab raincoats. We should wear bright coats, and carry blue umbrellas, or green.
One would wear a citron beret in Paris with a gray suit. I believe that with Miss Kay color came before drawing or form. To her, color was form. That makes the painting. What filled our minds with wonder and made Christina Kay so memorable was the personal drama and poetry within which everything in her classroom happened.
Her large, dark eyes were always alert and shining—that, I think, was half of the magic. Shapes and sculptures, arithmetical problems, linguistic points moved easily around each other. Part of our curriculum was the roots of our language.
She would often stop in midsentence to point out a Latin, Greek, or Anglo-Saxon root. Well, as I was saying, Ariel symbolizes freedom. She had strong views on education. Either the adaptor or one of the producers had not realized that the root of educare is e and duco.
Why Scottish public schools are in a field of their own
And, besides, I had the distinct impression that any views I, as author of the book, might have were not really welcome. Did Miss Kay have a sweetheart in her life? I think she did, long before our time. I would put her age at about fifty in my memory, and, looking at the class photograph, I think that is about right. She was of the generation of clever, academically trained women who had lost their sweethearts in the war.
There had been a terrible carnage. There were no men to go round. Until we ourselves grew up there was a veritable generation of spinsters. At any rate, Miss Kay told us how wonderful it had been to waltz in those long full skirts. I sensed romance, sex. There was no mistaking the romantic feminine ardor with which Miss Kay recounted her visit one summer, with two other ladies, to Egypt. When I repeated this exotic tale to my mother, she remarked that Thomas Cook the main travel agency of those days paid for those flowers.
I have said Christina Kay was a devout Christian. She knew how to apply her Christianity.
Such teachings, the sheer logic of the contradiction inherent in them of the moral culture we honored, sank in. We were taught not to be carried away by crowd emotions, not to be fools. She had a true sense of the poetry of the Bible. Before reaching her class, we had been taught the Scottish catechism. I loved the beginning:. I saw a road workman knocked down or hit by a tramcar. He ran from the spot with his arms spread out and fell beside the pavement. I saw this from a place where I was playing with some other children from school.
We were all speedily ushered out of the way, and so I had no means of knowing if the man had been injured, or maybe electrocuted, and if he lived or died. My father could find nothing about it in the evening paper.
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But the image of the workman with arms outspread stayed in my mind for a long time. I thought he liked me. I spoke to nobody about him. I remembered only how he once had been in my mind. I can recite them still. At least twice a week after school, I would go to the public lending library in Morningside; it was in a charming nineteenth-century schoolhouse. I would bring home four books at a time, most of them poetry, for I was destined to poetry by all my mentors. I was always discovering new poems for Miss Kay to read.
Miss Kay took Frances and me to the theatre and to concerts, sometimes to a good film, paying out of her own pocket. Among our other clandestine treats with Miss Kay were visits to modern poetic plays. There was at the time a repertory theatre company called the Arts League of Service, which we felt was very romantic.
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