Having built this ever expanding website partly as a way to share the thousands of quotations captured over decades of reading, I like Mandelstam’s strong assertion.  And poet as he is, he uses irresistibly original similes – a quotation as an ever-chirruping cricket or clicking cicada. 

In this piece he mentions Dante’s lavish use of allusion and quotation, something that seems frowned upon in our own day – I remember entering an essay competion and realising I had no chance when the principal judge made disparaging comments about people who resort to more than a light sprinkling of quotations.  Now I feel stronger knowing I am in company with Dante. 

A quotation is not an excerpt.  A quotation is a cicada.  It is part of its nature never to quiet down.  Once having got hold of the air, it does not release it. 

See also our celebration of Mandelstam’s Journey to Armenia including a cricketing of illustrated quotations.

Source: ‘Conversation about Dante’, in Journey to Armenia & Conversation about Dante (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011), pp. 108

Photo credit: BubbleJuice at pixabay


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