"I can here play the gentleman, enact the student. To such a one as myself, who has been defrauded in his young years of the sweet food of academic institution, nowhere is so pleasant, to while away a few idle weeks at, as one or other of the Universities." Please explain this quote by Charles Lamb in "Oxford in the Vacation," from his collection of essays entitled Essays of Elia.

In this quote from "Oxford in the Vacation," Charles Lamb speaks to loss and desire. He had wished to be able to attend either Oxford or Cambridge but had to go to work instead. Here, he describes the pleasure he derives in the substitute gesture of visiting one of these colleges for a vacation, where he can pretend he is a student and enact for a short time one of his deepest desires.

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Lamb, writing autobiographically under the persona of his alter-ego Elia, here discusses making amends of sorts for not having had the opportunity to attend Oxford or Cambridge. As a child of a family of limited means, he was fortunate to attend Christ's Hospital in London, a rigorous academic school not far from his home. Although a good student, a bad stutter prevented him from moving onto one of the universities, which in those days were training grounds for clergy. As it was thought that he could not deliver a sermon adequately, his education ended at the age of fourteen.

At that point, Lamb went to work as a clerk, spending most of his career at the British East India House. From then on, the academic and literary life he would have loved to pursue full time was pushed to the peripheries, though he did write his famous Essays of Elia and Tales of Shakespeare, a children's book he collaborated on with his sister.

Returning to the quote, he here speaks of the pleasure he derives, since...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 886 words.)

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