Saturday, December 10, 2005

Microcosmographia Academica
A fine read.  Short, sweet, and to the point.  It says it is about academic politics (based on the author's long experience at Cambridge University) and was written in 1908.  It seems to be about any politics.  Since the first edition is all I see online, I will include the preface to the Second Edition here:
There was a time toward the end of 1914 when many people imagined that after the war human nature, in our part of the world, would be different. They even thought it would be better in some ways. I have an idea that I shared in this illusion. But my friends who are still active in this microcosm tell me that academic human nature, at any rate, remains true to the ancient type. Moreover, a short an inglorious career in the home forces and in a government department has convinced me that the academic species is only one member of a genus wider than I had supposed. Frequenters of the Church Congress, too, have admitted that they sometimes turn to the pages of this guide for help. Considering all this, I have persuaded the publishers to reprint it as it stands.
and the preface to first edition, also not at the website
I fancy (though I am not sure) that there is just one feature of academic life that has become a little more prominent since the war. If I could have recaptured the mood of the fortnight in which this book was written, I might have added a chapter on Propaganda, defined as that branch of the art of lying which consists in very nearly deceiving your friends without quite deceiving your enemies. But the subject is not yet ripe for treatment; the art is still imperfect. We must leave it to be worked out by the party whose mission it is to keep the university safe for aristo-democracy.

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