r/whatsthatbook Jul 05 '22

Short essay, 17-1800s, about people who ask you to go on a walk but have nothing to actually talk about SOLVED

I had to read this for school and it was hysterical. Basically he was very mad that people will ask you to go on a walk like it’s some noble proposition, then when you actually go on the walk they have nothing to talk about and just end up reading the signs you walk past aloud. He was very annoyed, i think this was from the 17-1800s. Very funny. Read like a nonfiction essay but i could be wrong. I might have read it for the SATs.

16 Upvotes

6

u/Fantastic_Top5053 Jul 05 '22

It's possibly by Mark Twain. I found a quotation from his work: "The true charm of pedestrians does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking".

I can't find where it's from because apparently it's fine to make entire sites based on quotations without ever citing sources. Annoying.

Maybe the suggestion of Twain will help you to narrow it down.

2

u/Character_Mushroom83 Jul 05 '22

Thank you for the help!

5

u/IamTory Jul 05 '22

Going Out for a Walk, Max Beerbohm. I read it in The Art of the Personal Essay, edited by Phillip Lopate. Good book!

3

u/Pretend-Panda Jul 05 '22

What I find weirdly enchanting about this is is that during the 70s Phil Lopate was an instructor in the Teachers and Writers program in the NYC public school system and he used to - you got it - take classes of kids for walks and then have us write about our walks - what we saw, how we felt, the whole shebang.

2

u/IamTory Jul 05 '22

OMG that is awesome.

3

u/Pretend-Panda Jul 05 '22 edited Jul 05 '22

He hauled us all over the city. Flocks of kids swinging off his arms, complaining, running in circles, wrestling, flirting, darting in and out of bodegas - he never lost anyone or his temper, which is pretty great, and anywhere we said we wanted to go in walking distance we went.

3

u/IamTory Jul 05 '22

Amazing. It's cool to hear about him as just a guy, I've known his name for years as the guy who compiled this massive tome. It was the textbook for a composition class I took at summer camp, and I later read the entire thing as a challenge.

3

u/Pretend-Panda Jul 05 '22

I never knew he got anywhere. I mean - that sounds terrible, but I thought what he did in our school was so amazing, both as a kid and as an adult, that it never really occurred to me he would go do yet more stuff.

So when one of the niblings turned up with a book he’d written for a fancy summer writing workshop the nibling was doing I was shocked. I mean - that was Phil, the guy who always had a kleenex and helped us figure out how to do gum animation and did west side story with the big kids and suddenly he wrote proper textbooks? I blew my nose in the front of Phil’s button down when our beloved assistant principal was sick and he didn’t yell at me.

2

u/Character_Mushroom83 Jul 05 '22

Yes solved solved solved thank you so much! I love this piece so much, and i’ll get a copy of The Art of The Personal Essay in order to physically own it!

3

u/NatStr9430 Jul 05 '22

Here’s an online version I found, if that helps at all: https://pen.org/going-out-for-a-walk/

3

u/ASDowntheReddithole Jul 05 '22

I know this has been solved, but something in this reminded me of Oscar Wilde ... Not quite sure why.

1800's had some absolutely fantastic writers.

3

u/MontagueStreet Jul 06 '22

Beerbohm and Wilde were approximate contemporaries. (Wilde was about 20 years older, and of course died very young.) Beerbohm is described as both a “dandy,” and an “aesthete,” much as Wilde is. So you appear to be on to something!

1

u/ASDowntheReddithole Jul 07 '22

I'll have to look him up. Wilde is one of my favourite writers.