Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Table-Talk, or Selections from the Ana

George Moir (ed) - Table-Talk, or Selections from the Ana (1827)

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Always something new to discover - I'd never heard of the literary genre "ana" until stumbling across this book looking for something else.  The term is so short it's hard to research (though there was an 1882 De la bibliographie des ana that doesn't provide much info).  But surprise the 1911 Encyclop√¶dia Britannica has a fairly long entry on it.

Ana are "various collections of the observations and criticisms of eminent men, delivered in conversation and recorded by their friends, or discovered among their papers after their decease."  So it turns out most of us have encountered this without realizing it since today it's usually, as with this book, called table talk or miscellany or something similar.  John Selden is one of the best known in English though he's one of those numerous writers whose name is encountered often enough to be remembered but not so much that any of us bother to read him.

This anthology of ana includes Selden along with Johnson, Martin Luther, Voltaire, Walpole and some more obscure people.  I've only skimmed bits and pieces but it looks like interesting browsing.