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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Literary Anecdote?

In his review of The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes (a book that one wants to get one's hands on), Gary Dexter says:

Some of the anecdotes in John Gross's new collection force you to think quite hard. Take the following, told by A. J. Ayer about Bertrand Russell: 'Russell was quite incapable of seeing any merit in "ordinary language philosophy" and did not even try to take it seriously. Thus in a paper on the subject which he read to the Metalogical Society he pointed out that when a charwoman says "I ain't never done no harm to nobody", she does not mean "There is at least one moment at which I was injuring the entire human race."'

Which is all very droll, but what one wants to know is: how is the above a literary anecdote, exactly?


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