By Sybille Bedford
A Legacy is the story of 2 very assorted households, the Merzes and the Feldens. The Jewish Merzes are longstanding contributors of Berlin’s haute bourgeoisie who count number a pal of Goethe between their special ancestors. now not that this proud legacy capacity a lot of something to them anymore. safe of their large city residence, they commit themselves to little greater than having fun with their comforts and making sure their wealth. The Feldens are landed aristocracy, wealthy yet now not wealthy, from Germany’s Catholic south. After Julius von Felden marries Melanie Merz the fortunes of the 2 households might be surprisingly, certainly fatally, entwined.
Set throughout the run-up to international conflict I, a time of weirdly mingled complacency and angst, A Legacy is appealing, magnificently humorous, and profound, an unforgettable snapshot of a doomed lifestyle.
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Extra resources for A Legacy (New York Review Books Classics)
Honestas’ has four categories or virtues: wisdom, justice, fortitude and decorum or propriety (which includes temperance) (1. 26 It is closely related to decorum: ‘what is proper is morally right’, Cicero explains, ‘and what is morally right is proper’ (1. 27 This relationship, though, is hard to grasp partly because Cicero’s idea of decorum proves rather slippery. By way of explanation Cicero argues that poets observe decorum ‘when every word or action is in accord with each individual character’; he then explains that the philosopher is concerned with what is decorous or proper for humanity.
19 However, they do not help us to understand the attempt to reconceive ‘society’ which underpins interest in conversation in the period or, indeed, how the emphasis on familiarity in early modern conversation theory is used to challenge the conﬁdent assertion of social difference. 21 In literary representations of conversation, though, gestures which might appear ‘negative’ and distancing can create a levelling familiarity. What is important about the self-deprecating gesture of pretending ignorance in the courtesy books is that it is often employed ‘ideally’ by a senior interlocutor who understands the limits of his social authority and who wants to bring out the potential of a junior companion.
It is not difﬁcult to recognise how the polite refusal to teach an auditor how to speak is ‘honest’ or morally right because it creates the conditions for conversation. That is, such a gesture invites an auditor to become a speaker; once engaged in conversation ‘he’ can realise his capacity to be social (a capacity that remains buried while ‘he’ remains in the role of auditor). This discussion may seem academic to us because Cicero’s idea of ‘honestas’ or moral goodness does not ﬁt with our own notion of honesty.