Reading Günter Grass’s The Rat. She-rat speaks thus:
we rats have battened on it, eaten our way to erudition. Oh, those mouldy parchments, those leather-bound folios, those collected works bristling with slips of paper, those clever-clever encycopedias. From d’Alembert to Diderot, we know it all: the holy Enlightenment and the subsequent revulsion against science. All secretions of human reason.
Even before that, as early as Augustine’s day, we overate. From St Gall to Uppsala, every monastery library contributed to our erudition. We are decidedly well read; in times of famine we fed on quotations, we know our belles-lettres and our philosophy inside out; the pre-Socrates and Sophists have filled our bellies. Not to mention the Scholastics. Persistently gnawed, their involute sentences have always agreed with us. Ah, footnotes! What deletable condiments!