I have not been a philologist in vain – perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading… Philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all – to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow – the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. For this very reason philology is now more desirable than ever before; for this very reason it is the highest attraction and incitement in an age of ‘work’: that is to say, of haste, of unseemly and immoderate hurry-skurry, which is intent upon ‘getting things done’ at once, even every book, whether old or new. Philology itself, perhaps, will not ‘get things done‘ so hurriedly: it teaches how to read well: i.e. slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar, with delicate fingers and eyes.
The Dawn: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (1881, preface in 1886)
trans. J.M. Kennedy