Tag: book diary

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I have a weakness for Sherlock Holmes pastiches, even bad ones, even bad ones written by Conan Doyle. I frequently turn to my Baring-Gould edition of the canon when I am reminded of a story that is worth re-reading. Here, I want to give my highest recommendation to a series of Sherlock Holmes stories written […]

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I confess to enjoying popular fiction, especially fiction that was popular a century or more ago. I am most fascinated by the sheer multiplicity of different genres, and how genres and their popularity has changed over time. I may have more to say about that in the future, but here I wanted to make one […]

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I have mentioned Bulfinch before in the context of Greek myth. His is a standard source for finding the scattered bits of Greek and Roman myth gathered into a single coherent narrative. Edith Hamilton is also very good, and superior for my purposes in that my edition has an index. Bulfinch is very nineteenth century, […]

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After Milan, Durant then goes on to discuss the lesser centers of art in Tuscany, Mantua, and Ferrara. Again and again we hear of an artist who develops some reputation in his native city, goes to Rome to seek fame and fortune “… and then Raphael arrives” and he sinks again into obscurity. Ferrara is […]

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Having followed the progress of Florence to the 1530s, Durant then turns to the lesser cultural centers of Italy during the same time period, beginning with Milan. Naturally, he follows the fortunes of the Viscontis and Sforzas, and its arts and (missing from Florence) its letters (poetry was big in Milan). I knew of the […]

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While historians usually peg the beginning of the Renaissance at the year 1500, the Renaissance in Florence definitely belongs to the 15th century (the quatrocento), from whence it spread to the rest of Italy, then the rest of Europe. In chronicling the Florentine Renaissance, Durant neatly alternates between history and culture. A bit of history […]

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As noted previously, Barbara Tuchman chronicles a fairly narrow time and place in history: Rome from roughly 1480 to 1530. I wanted to know more. Naturally, I turned to Will Durant. I used to own a full set of Durant’s Story of Civilization, but it took up a lot of shelf space, and I never […]

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A digression: I was noticing that I was writing many sentences requiring that or which, without a guiding principle as to the proper use of either. This is where Fowler is at his best. I spent several happy hours diving into Fowler’s extensive articles on the use of that and which. Fowler is unfailingly clear […]

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A digression: In what for me was a wild extravagance, I purchased a 2/3rds sized reproduction of Giambattista Nolli’s map of Rome from 1748. Aside from its being a truly beautiful, astonishing, and fascinating work of cartography, I mention it here because just about everything that was Rome in 1500 can be found on Nolli’s […]

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I will treat these together because they are so similar in scope and method. There seems to be a consensus among historians to place the dividing line between the middle ages and the renaissance at the year 1500. I suppose it needs to be somewhere, but this tends to make the very interesting late 15th […]

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This is a massive tome covering the whole of Christianity. It is most useful, in the context of my investigations into the Italian Renaissance, for its brief lives of the principal characters during the decades around 1500, and for definitions of the more arcane terminology within the Catholic church. If you need to know the […]

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For over twenty years, Johann Burchard was the Master of Ceremonies at the Vatican, serving five of the Popes discussed by Barbara Tuchman in The March of Folly, and kept a diary the entire time. Mostly a detailed chronicle of the ceremonial protocols he managed, in later years the diary also included accounts of events […]

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I believe Machiavelli has been largely misinterpreted. Most casual references I have come across seem to assume as undisputed fact that The Prince is an endorsement of cynical, amoral realpolitik, which is not the impression that I get from reading the book. Machiavelli provides a thorough taxonomy of all the ways in which a Prince […]

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This marks the beginning of an obsession with the Renaissance that is still ongoing Tuchman provides a detailed history of six popes from Sixtus IV to Clement VII, showing how their greed, venality, and resistance to reform resulted in the end of the power of the papacy and the rise of the Reformation. Tuchman wisely […]

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Tuchman adds nothing to the basic story, except to point out all the ways the Trojans were warned that bringing the horse into the city was a bad idea, and some speculation as to why they did it anyway. Of course I had to turn to my Hamilton and Bulfinch, both of whom do yeoman […]

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I am gratified to have attracted the interest of fans and critics of Barbara Tuchman. I have received more interesting comments from the previous post than any other. As demonstrated by her choice of subject, Tuchman clearly intended her historical writing to be a commentary on, and have some application to the issues of contemporary […]

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I have read most everything Barbara Tuchman wrote, some of it twice. Unpacking a box of books to fill some newly assembled shelves, I came across The March of Folly and decided this was a good time to re-read it. Tuchman’s main purpose is to expose what a mess the US Government made of the […]

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My relationship with Dickens has been troublesome. I have played both Marley and Scrooge on stage; every December I read a few of the Christmas Stories; I was supposed to read David Copperfield in the sixth grade and didn’t; I did read the whole of David Copperfield aloud to my girlfriend to help her fall […]

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  I have known about AnthonyTrollope and the Palliser novels for some time and I found the idea of novels revolving around politics, particularly British politics, to be intriguing. When I came across a pristine set of the Oxford editions (in library covers, no less) in a used bookstore in Urbana Illinois, I could not […]

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I have heard about and read commentary on the Canterbury Tales for most of my life. I must have read some of Chaucer in freshman English, but I can’t say that any of it stuck. And so I made a concerted effort to read the tales in their entirety. I find it interesting that the […]

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