Wednesday, August 24, 2011

LK on Keynes on the Nazis

Another great post by LK (although I suppose I oughta give Skidelsky credit for this one!!).

This was especially good:

"On 25 August 1933, he wrote to Professor Spiethoff, who was arranging the publication of a German translation of ‘National Self-Sufficiency’:

"Forgive me for my words about barbarism. But that word rightly indicates the effect of recent events in Germany on all of us here …. It is many generations in our judgement since such disgraceful events have occurred in any country pretending to call itself civilised ... If you tell me that these events have taken place, not by force, but as an expression of the general will … that in our view would make some of the persecutions and outrages of which we hear … ten times more horrible


  1. What is in between all those ellipses exactly?

  2. I'm quoting LK - I don't have the book. Hopefully nothing that changes the substance of the quote or I'm going to have to recalibrate my assessment of LK.

  3. Doing a quick, cursory search I can't find the letter online.

    The basic stylistic point of an ellipsis is to save space in media where such is important (consider a magazine article for example - where 500 or 1,000 words is the maximum that is allowed); in a book, if you are directly quoting someone you ought to use all of their words*, otherwise you might as well paraphrase their words instead and provide the appropriate citation. This is what I was taught in my first research course as an undergraduate. So when I see something like this I automatically want to go to the original source and see what is in between those ellipses.

    *There is a reason why you are using their words; you are using them for explanatory, dramatic, etc. effect. This is why you keep such quotations to a bare minimum; you know you are reading a less polished piece of scholarly work if it is chock full of block quotations.

  4. I would hope LK added those and not Skidelsky, but I don't know. A blog post is certainly another place where you want to economize on space. But perhaps that originated with Skidelsky.

  5. Everyone seems to be using those ellipses (I've seen it now on a list of quotations used by Brad DeLong amongst others), so it all probably coming from one published source, and probably a book or a journal article (this is sort of typical for the internets - someone finds something in a secondary source and then everyone quotes it). I am sure it is perfectly ok; but it is one of those sytlistic points that annoys me. If you are going to use someone's words, use all of them if the medium allows for such.

  6. There are times when I wish I knew what DeLong was leaving out - I've noticed him do this too. But fundamentally I disagree with you. Long blog posts are obnoxious. Blog posts are more akin to the short magazine article. People can always go to the source.

    Now of course changing substance is different - that's unacceptable regardless.

  7. This wasn't a long blog post by DeLong; it was a collection of quotations that is pages long.

    I'll find it again, and you'll see what I mean

    See, he is most likely pulling that quotation from somewhere (just like everyone on the internets is pulling it from somewhere*); so it comes an issue of provenance, etc.

    *In other words, none of the users of the quote online have likely ever read the letter - or at least that is what I gather from its use online so far as I am able to discern such. Unless it is in some published collection (in book form or on microfiche/film or whatever) of letters it is going to be very hard to read the letter in fact (you'd have to visit whatever archive it is housed in and ask for it).

  8. So now I'm off to see if I can find this letter in a published collection somewhere.

    I did find this on Prof. Spiethoff (never heard of the guy before today): It has a summary of who the guy was.

  9. "What is in between all those ellipses exactly?"

    The ellipses are in Skidelsky's book.

  10. The reference for this letter is

    Keynes Papers L/33, John Maynard Keynes to A. Spiethoff, 25 August 1933.

    I have not seen this full letter as yet.

  11. LK,

    Yeah, I think that is an unpublished collection at King's College, Cambridge.


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