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"A man of letters"?


Eoghan2009
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8 hours ago, Eoghan2009 said:

What do you understand this phrase to mean?

Just so I don't completely ruin your thread...  I've always understood this to mean someone with a university-level education in the arts / humanities.

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2 minutes ago, LizEF said:

Just so I don't completely ruin your thread...  I've always understood this to mean someone with a university-level education in the arts / humanities.

 

Seconded.  Hence Doctor of Letters being a sometime terminal degree in the humanities.

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4 hours ago, BayesianPrior said:

 

Seconded.  Hence Doctor of Letters being a sometime terminal degree in the humanities.

There is that, and strictly speaking one would say it is true.  Yet, there are those who would suggest the term includes those who are well versed in the humanities; including the self-educated and those who have a tertiary education in humanities but no formal academic qualification; i.e., BA Hum., etc.

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43 minutes ago, ParramattaPaul said:

There is that, and strictly speaking one would say it is true.  Yet, there are those who would suggest the term includes those who are well versed in the humanities; including the self-educated and those who have a tertiary education in humanities but no formal academic qualification; i.e., BA Hum., etc.

I would agree.  The playwright August Wilson, a Pittsburgh native and Pulitzer Prize winner, was largely self-taught.  He skipped school on a regular basis, apparently -- instead of formal education, he'd spend days in the library reading.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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17 minutes ago, Karmachanic said:

And writers.

This thread is just a wealth of inspiration! :D

large.AManofLetters2.jpg.e1a3c7c9de180f7fef104a4be69382bd.jpg

 

large.AManofLetters3.jpg.4b803e71e44e09f9ad8a2a6d0584fc43.jpg

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1 hour ago, inkstainedruth said:

instead of formal education, he'd spend days in the library reading.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

On first reading, I missed the period, and wondered what of yours he was reading for so long. 

 

Anyway, I have always thought a man (or woman) of letters was mostly a scholarly person who writes and publishes a lot of scholarly works, whether amateur or professional. I would not necessarily think of a classical composer as a person of letters, for example, nor an accomplished painter or sculptor. It has always resonated to me as a person who uses written language in an educated and sophisticated way. 

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And then there's Joe Bloggs BA, MBA, MSc, PhD, MD, MPH, LLB, DFC

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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A few years ago I stumbled upon an explanation of the term (in some sort of connection to Stephen Fry). Roughly, and leaving room for an imperfect memory, the explanation was that the term originated in the 18th century, and was used to describe intellectuals - often of a rebellious sort - who wrote letters that were then printed and circulated in the pamphlets that were a kind of newspapers of the day. The use of the term in modern times, then, refers to persons who participate in the public discourse by writing books or articles about matters of e.g. social and cultural importance. 

 

In my mind it also carries a connotation of a person whose command of the written language is superb, and has a certain elegance and perhaps an artistic flair. It is not, to be sure, applicable to the writers of tabloid journalism or boring textbooks on politics and government. 

 

 - P. 

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 Many moons ago, when most people had no formal education, a “man of letters” would describe a person who could read and write. 

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  • 1 month later...

Arcadian's explanation comes really close to the Spanish meaning, but we take it back a century or two. A man who was a skilled writers and a good soldier was the best courtesan for the old Spanish empire. Nowadays things are way less formal, did it become a new trend in people looking for smart and fit men? It sort of checks out.

Always looking for new ways to downsize my collection.

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  • 1 month later...

I take it to mean "A man who has a love for letters" whether they be alphabetical letters or mailed/mailing letters. 

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4 hours ago, TSherbs said:

This dude never came back to the thread.

Perhaps all he wanted was rhe replies and not a conversation. 

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