Essays on Russian Novelists

Essays on Russian Novelists

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Essays on Russian Novelists by William Lyon Phelps

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Essays on Russian Novelists

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Book Excerpt

nguages fluently and idiomatically. When we learn to speak a foreign tongue, we are always acutely conscious of the transition from English to German, or from German to French, and our hearers are still more so. We speak French as though it HURT, just as the average tenor sings. I remember at a polyglot Parisian table, a Russian girl who spoke seven languages with perfect ease; and she was not in the least a blue-stocking.

Now every one knows that one of the indirect advantages that result from the acquisition of a strange tongue is the immediate gain in the extent of view. It is as though a near-sighted man had suddenly put on glasses. It is something to be able to read French; but if one has learned to speak French, the reading of a French book becomes infinitely more vivid. With a French play in the hand, one can see clearly the expressions on the faces of the personages, as one follows the printed dialogue with the eye. Here is where a Russian understands the American or the French point of view, much

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