“That very beautiful medium, the English Language”

When I was a teenager, two of my favourite writers were Max Beerbohm and Lytton Strachey. 

Lytton StracheyPut aside their subject matter for a moment. What thrilled me about these two was the structure, the cadence, the musicality of their prose.

I’ve been rediscovering them both. Today I re-read Beerbohm’s 1943 Rede Lecture on Lytton Strachey. It’s a slender, purple pamphlet my grandfather gave me (or which I liberated from his shelves).

It’s twenty years since I read it, so every word was fresh. Take a read:

The English language, being part Latin, part Saxon, is, in my rough insular opinion, an even finer medium than the French one. Latin is, one might say, its bony structure, Saxon its flesh and blood.”

Then: …read more