Sentences — May 16, 2008, 5:22 pm

Weekend Read: “Ayenbite of inwit”

The week began with the forgotten Josiah Mitchell Morse, (who as of May 14 has been granted his Wikipedia page) and ends with the very few sentences from his typewriter that are remembered online. The first is a bonbon, a letter Morse wrote to the New York Times, in 1989:

To the Editor:

Here is a true story about Samuel Beckett that is not in any of the many books about him.

In the summer of 1971 a student of mine at Temple University went to Europe without taking along enough money. When he was down to his last few centimes, walking along a Paris street, wondering what to do, he saw Samuel Beckett coming toward him…(continued)

And the second (and, sadly, last) came to my attention via the gracious David Lull. It is a brief sermonlet that begins:

Ayenbite of inwit [Remorse of Conscience], a popular fourteenth-century handbook of virtues and vices, says we don’t sin unless we first consent to sin. It refers specifically to sexual sin, and to conscious decision. But the sins of the mind are more subtle, and the decision is not necessarily conscious. Our inner labyrinths are in so devious that often when we sin intellectually we think we are making a decision for virtue…

and continues here.

Single Page

More from Wyatt Mason:

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In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

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