Melvyn Bragg has an excellent voice for radio – one you can recognise straight away – and a lovely turn of phrase to boot. I caught a little of episode two of his The Matter of the North series on the car radio tonight (The Glories of Northumbria) and listened as he described the Viking pillaging of Lindisfarne, the theft of jewels from the cover and how the monks were able to recover the pages. A brief pause and then a short summing up as the “triumph of illiteracy”.
Before posting I did a quick check on Google. According to their voluminous archives, the phrase isn’t entirely novel but seven hits for the phrase in quotes demonstrates that it isn’t a hackneyed expression.
I wonder how long before this post becomes hit number eight?