Michel Houellebecq: SUBMISSION, p. 72

  • Hidden all day in impenetrable black burqas, rich Saudi women transformed themselves by night into birds of Paradise with their corsets, their see-through bras, their G-strings with multicolored lace and rhinestones.

There you have it, folks: Paris in the year 201x.

Stay tuned.

Mary Beard on Edward Gibbon

Beginning a new book today: SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard

Beard begins by saying, in her Prologue:

  • “. . .  over the almost 250 years since Edward Gibbon wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, his idiosyncratic historical experiment that began the modern study of Roman history in the English-speaking world . . . “

Self is quite tickled by the description of Gibbon as “idiosyncratic.” She just read Gibbon for the first time, here at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. Her biggest quibble with him was that he spent an inordinate amount of time on the spread of Christianity and while some of that history was good — especially the parts about monastic life —  most of it was really broad survey. And surveys are dull.

In contrast, another history she just finished reading, Francis Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe, was amazing. Amazing in every sense: as history, and as narrative.

The Guardian calls SPQR “vastly engaging.” We shall see if it manages to unseat Francis Parkman’s as self’s favorite history book in years.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Book Delivery! Francis Parkman’s THE JESUITS IN NORTH AMERICA IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

Self has been enjoying Francis Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe so much that she decided to look up his other books. She ordered one through Amazon UK, and it arrived just today.

Hardbound, but doesn’t look quite like the kind of book you’d pick up from, say, a bookstore.

She opens the inside page:

This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.

The book is a scan. And it’s probably the first time anyone’s ordered it in — a century.

She starts to read, and it’s surprisingly — pedestrian. Like reading someone’s PhD dissertation. But, anyhoo, it is here. In Annaghmakerrig. And so is self. Those are two very good things.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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