In a high school production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, I played the noble, Duke Vincentio. Disguised as a friar, the Duke cajoles the various characters to do the right thing by their betrothed. One unredeemable character is Lucio, a fellow about town, who enjoys sharing with the friar his escapades and low opinions of the Duke. At the end of Act IV, Scene III, no matter how the friar attempts to leave, Lucio persists. As they exit, Lucio says:
“By my troth, I’ll go with thee to the lane’s end:
if bawdy talk offend you, we’ll have very little of
it. Nay, friar, I am a kind of burr; I shall stick.”
I’ve found that, in most classic European literature, to persist is to be a pest.
With Charles Dickens, his characters show “sullen persistence,” are “fed up by their persistence” and prove persistence in a “refusal to concede.”
Voltaire’s characters thought, “What could be more absurd than to persist in carrying a burden of which we wish to be eased?”
Turgenev, in Fathers and Sons, has a princess who “grew sick of his persistent pursuit of her and went abroad.”
These four authors in England, France and Russia related persistence to knavishness, impoliteness, ignoble conduct and being a bother!
In the U.S., most did not have the advantages of gentlemen, nor the pride of leisure, and came to the New World with initiative and persistence — perhaps that explains why persistence became an American trait!
In Episode 4 of the The Immigrant Entrepreneur podcast, Vivek Tiwary explained how he persisted to secure the music rights from the Beatles, that it took him 3.5 years of getting rejected. His work will be the only independent film, to receive music rights. He explains how not to be an annoying jerk, even when you are very persistent.