Horror and systematic idiocy

Have you ever looked at your own writing and wondered: What author’s work might it resemble? And if you haven’t, I hope I didn’t just break writing for you.

All I can remember of these once indispensable arts is the intense boredom by which the practice of them was accompanied. Even today the sight of Dr. Smith’s Shorter Latin Dictionary, or of Liddell’s and Scott’s Greek Lexicon, has power to recall that ancient ennui. What dreary hours I have spent frantically turning those pages in search of a word for “cow” that could be scanned as a dactyl, or to make sure that my memory of the irregular verbs and the Greek accents was not at fault! I hate to think of all that wasted time. And yet, in view of the fact that most human beings are destined to pass most of their lives at jobs in which it is impossible for them to take the slightest interest, this old-fashioned training with the dictionary may have been extremely salutary. At least it taught one to know and expect the worst of life. Whereas the pupil in a progressive school, where everything is made to seem entertaining and significant, lives in a fool’s paradise. As a preparation for life, not as it ought to be, but as it actually is, the horrors of Greek grammar and the systematic idiocy of Latin verses were perfectly appropriate. On the other hand, it must be admitted that they tended to leave their victims with a quite irrational distaste for poor dear Dr. Smith.

~ Aldous Huxley from his essay, Doodles in a Dictionary from, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Other Essays

Lest you think that’s an overly long quote, I’ll point out it’s still only about half of the paragraph. Huxley can really unspool a sentence. Some of the writing in that book—Huxley’s, omg no not Smith’s dictionary—are overwrought. But some of them have a delicious tinkling of structure and grammar with an occasional punctuation of solid snark.