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The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


We all get it wrong sometimes. I know for sure that I do, but then again I know myself well enough not to expect any better. Still it is surprising what the experts let slip through. Reading David Nokes' biography of Johnson I came across the following passage about Oliver Goldsmith: "...Goldsmith, an Irishman with what were unflatteringly described as 'monkey features', had, like Johnson, undergone humiliation at Oxford where, a sizar at Trinity College, he had to wait at the Fellows' table." 

Shurely shome mishtake. Goldsmith was a sizar at Trinity College, Dublin, not Oxford and never, as far as I can find out, waited at any Oxford table. Why does it matter? Well, if you think that Goldsmith was an Oxford student then you give the impression that you don't understand anything about Goldsmith's character, his Irish background or the protestants in Ireland. Nokes wrote a biography of Swift so quite clearly this is not the case. Quite extraordinary though if your professed expertise is Eighteenth Century literature. And it makes you wonder  about the  value  of the  endorsement on the back: "A scholarly and richly documented study." John Carey.

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