reading not-aloud (was, some digest number or other)

minnow at minnow at
Wed Nov 12 18:06:22 EST 2003

Jon asked:

>--- Sarah <sarah-neko at> wrote:
>> One of my English professors told me that the idea
>> one should not move
>> one's lips while reading silently is of fairly
>> modern vintage.
>> Apparently it used to be normal, and... oh, bugger,
>> I can't remember
>> WHO, it's Christopher Milne and Little Lord
>> Fauntleroy all over
>> again... okay, I THINK it was Sir Isaac Newton who
>> was remarked upon
>> for NOT doing it.
>I've heard this story said of St Augustine. Any other
>takers anyone?

May it also have been said of Richard Duke of Normandy, the Bastard's
(?great?) grandfather?  He was noted as a scholard as well as a very
doughty fighter.

I get the gigglies about the idea of the silent cloisters of the
monasteries; during Lent it must have been bedlam in the great Benedictine
houses, with each monk issued with a book according to the Rule, and each
religiously and virtuously reading, each his own, each aloud.  I would
guess that every so often the Prior would have to walk round telling them
to turn down the sound a bit, because I would have thought that as with
trannies on the beach, each would gradually increase his own volume to
drown out his neighbours.

It's interesting that the bit in the Rule about books being distributed and
read during Lent is in chapter 48 -- "Of the Daily Work".  Reading was not
a leisure activity, it was Work, to a Benedictine monk, it seems.


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