Meet Harry Mount: Wanker, Wordsmith

columns Meet Harry Mount: Wanker, Wordsmith

Harry Mount is the author of a playful and, considering the historically staid subject matter, irreverent book on the principles of Latin, Amo, Amas, Amat…and All That (Short Books). New Yorker scribe Lauren Collins writes a fittingly playful, albeit not altogether irreverent, “Talk of the Town” on the 36-year-old journalist.

Strolling around the New Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum the other day, Mr. Mount, a self-described “Wanker,” began to wax on the etymology of the word “dick.” The subject, em, arose because he was standing before the very object that supposedly spawned the anatomical term. “It’s very useful, if you’ll forgive the vulgarity, to remember the word ‘dick.’ D-I-C-C, for Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite. Ionic is a more feminine column. It’s always got the, as it were, twirly-whirly girls’ curls,” he told the magazine, before describing his London primary school’s policy, wherein Latin classes were required for boys but not girls, as “a hangover.”

Then, sitting to sup at a diner near the Met, the conversation turned decidedly juicy. “I was watching Henry V on the plane over—there’s an accepted period of laddish drunkenness in all cultures,” he said. “The Greeks were keen on wine and sexual misbehavior. There’s a great bit of Plato, often read at weddings, about two halves of the same soul being joined. They always neglect to read the part that says the greatest love of all is between two male halves.” (Mr. Mount maintains this homoerotic contention despite having been rolled down a hill in a Porta-Potty during his salad days at Oxford.) As an aside, The Daily Transom hopes to hear plenty more from said writer in the near future.