10.0634 humble inadequacy

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 28 Jan 1997 10:52:56 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 634.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> (17)
Subject: unknown genre

Secondary literature on the unknown genre: Tore Janson, _Latin Prose
Prefaces. Studies in Literary Convention_. Acta Universitatis
Stockholmiensis, Studia Latina Stockholmiensia, 13 (Stockholm: Almqvist &
Wiksell), 120 ff. We might call this the inadequacy (Unzulaenglichkeits=)
topos, plied well by the ancients and Sam Irwin (sp?; "I'm just an old
country lawyer"). Janson, p. 124, calls it "incompetence". Sometimes one can
get God to help him out. A well known treatment is: Julius Schwietering,
Die Demutsformel mittelhochdeutscher Dichter (Goettingen, 1921), if one is
just looking for examples of the modesty topos. If you are really interested
in digging deep, look at Gertrud Simon, "Untersuchungen zur Topik der
Widmungsbriefe mittelalterlicher Geschichtsschreiber," _Archiv fuer
Diplomatik, etc._ 4 (1958), 52-119, passim, and especially 5 (1959), 98 ff.
and passim. Of course, there are the old standbys such as Norden, to whom
she and Janson refer. Perhaps self-deprecation is a better term, though it
is not always ones own insufficiency. Sometimes tongue cannot utter, even
for Wordsworth.
Jim Marchand.