Fifteen minutes

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  • Published 20040907
  • ISBN: 9780733314537
  • Extent: 268 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

WHEN MILTON, IN Lycidas, tells us that “Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise/ To scorn delights and live laborious days”, this Fame he is writing of, the reputation that depends on hard work and the sacrifice of ordinary pleasures, is the one means Man has of salvaging from Time, the destructive element – that is, from decay and oblivion – some part of what once was living, our own way of securing a place inhuman remembrance where deeds, words, a name, might have a continuing existence beyond the grave.

Time and Remembrance or Memory – these are the opposing forces in the human story. The paradox is that Man, subject as he is to the universal destructiveness of Time, is also the fragile repository of the one thing that outlasts it, that collective memory in which those among the dead who have been examples of a particular excellence, Helen for beauty, Solomon or Solon or Socrates for wisdom, Achilles, Hector, Alexander, Napoleon, and among artists, Homer, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Mozart, remain as close to us as any among the living.

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