Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Englishman vs. Russian: business vs. interest "in it all"

Look at an Englishman when he has a newspaper in his hands. An English newspaper numbers on average 16 large format pages. The letters in it are tiny. You need a week to read it at all .... A Russian would take it and have a go at the whole thing right through. But an Englishman will pick out the relevant headline, read 12 lines of the text that interests him, and drop the newspaper to the ground. He couldn't care less about the rest. Serbia, Chamberlain, a car race, a cardinal's death -- out of all this only one thing will interest him, according to the nature of his business -- he has no notion of our Russkie's platonic interest in it all.
Chukovsky image (painting by Repin) from

--Korney Chukovsky [1903-05, served as the London correspondent at an Odessa newspaper; he also translated Walt Whitman], cited in Anna Vaninskaya, "Under Russian Eyes [:] Foreign Correspondents in Edwardian Britain," The Times Literary Supplement (November 28, 2014), p. 19

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