[lit-ideas] Re: Speak Upon the Square

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2010 10:23:10 -0800

I finished a novel about being young in Paris ("Paris, Trance") but didn't like it. I'm currently enjoying non-fiction, "Curious Scotland" by George Rosie. It gets my vote as the worst-designed book I've seen in a very long time, with the most off-putting and stupid cover, but the essays are interesting. They've all got Scots in them, but the pull is like someone sitting beside you in a pub and saying, "I bet you didn't know that the most politically influential chief of the Cherokee nation was a Scot, or that some of Burns' descendants are Kayans in Borneo (Gene Kelly is in that essay), or that Defoe's letters to his spy-master in London are published."

At one stage Rosie quotes Charles Lamb on a certain kind of stubborn Scot. "There can be but a right and a wrong. His conversation is as a book. His affirmations have the sanctity of an oath. You must speak upon the square with him. He stops a metaphor like a suspected person in an enemy's country." I'm a little puzzled by that "upon the square." Does it mean "without elaboration" or does it mean "as you would in a public place"?

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon
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