August 27, 2006

Oriental tastes and tropical imagery

LAST night I was invited to coffee with one of the dons and in his room I met the great O.B. otherwise Oscar Browning, who is the feature par excellence of King's. He was extremely flattering, and passing from the subject of cotillions to that of scholarship, he said to me:
"I suppose you know you passed an extraordinarily high examination. I have examined papers at thirteen examinations and I have never during that time seen such excellent papers as yours (meaning my Classical papers at the scholarship examination). As for your essay, it was wonderful"
In this essay (a comparison between Shakespeare and Milton) I indulged my Oriental tastes to the top of their bent; it overflowed with rich and tropical imagery; it abounded in antitheses and epigrams and it expressed my real feelings without restraint or reservation. I thought myself that it was the best thing I have ever done, but at school it would have been condemned as extraordinarily Asiatic and bombastic.
The great O.B. afterwards asked me where my rooms were and when I had answered he said, "That wretched hole!", then turning to Mahaffy: "How rude we are to our scholars! We get great minds to come down here and then shut them up in that box! I suppose it is to keep their pride down."
Letter to his Father. The passage reproduced here is part of a letter written by Sri Aurobindo to his father K.D. Ghose (evidently from Cambridge before December 1890) Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Supplement Volume-27 > Letter To His Father

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