And you have to remember Dr. Johnson's words about the dancing dog (actually, he said that a female preacher is like a dancing dog--but of course I can't say that today): the wonder is not that it's done well, but that it's done at all.
I think that captures the essence of it, yes; a fairground attraction for a highbrow audience.
Qimmik wrote:Here I am in my late 60s too (I turn 68 next week), and all I will take to another world is about the first 20 verses of the Iliad, a few of the Aeneid, the first two or three stanzas of Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and part of Don something or other's monologue from Le Cid. What a wasted life!
I'm sure that's not the way you see it. Whilst it would be nice to carry around a library of favourite books entirely in our head, enjoyment of a work is not tied to a perfect recollection of it, and may even be increased by forgetting and then rediscovering parts of it when it is read again.
Your musing puts me in mind of one of poor old Gissing's best known characters:
"Scholarship in the high sense was denied me, and now it is too late. Yet here am I gloating over Pausanias, and promising myself to read every word of him. Who that has any tincture of old letters would not like to read Pausanias, instead of mere quotations from him and references to him? Here are the volumes of Dahn’s Die Könige der Germanen: who would not like to know all he can about the Teutonic conquerors of Rome? And so on, and so on. To the end I shall be reading—and forgetting. Ah, that’s the worst of it! Had I at command all the knowledge I have at any time possessed, I might call myself a learned man. Nothing surely is so bad for the memory as long-enduring worry, agitation, fear. I cannot preserve more than a few fragments of what I read, yet read I shall, persistently, rejoicingly. Would I gather erudition for a future life? Indeed, it no longer troubles me that I forget. I have the happiness of the passing moment, and what more can mortal ask?" (The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft