il portale dell'ebraismo italiano

Italics – Tell Me a Story

By Anthony Grafton*
On July 22, 1955, the Times Literary Supplement welcomed the appearance of a new scholarly book with an enthusiasm rarely matched in its gray, closely printed pages. Pride of place, in those days, went not to the cover but to the so-called “long-middle”—a substantial review, which normally faced the correspondence columns. On this summer Friday, Peter Green welcomed with pyrotechnic praise “a trilingual collection of essays remarkable alike for their classical and humanistic erudition, their historiographical judgment, and a style equally graceful in Italian, German, or English”: Arnaldo Momigliano’s Contributo alla storia degli studi classici. This work, Green made clear, set a new standard for the history of ancient history.
The fact that the TLS could feature a book printed in Italy, much of which was not in English, is revealing in itself. Momigliano inhabited a world lost, one in which British and American cultures were still distinct, and the British was in many ways the more vital of the two. Britain’s grimy, bomb-damaged cities harbored poets, novelists, and scholars whose work dominated the intellectual life of the English-speaking world.
* This article was published in Tablet on August 31, 2020.