#amreading about 16 March 1521: Magellan in the Visayan Sea

On the Feast of St. Lazarus, Ferdinand Magellan spotted the coast of Samar in an archipelago which had not been named by Europeans.

Because it was the feast of the saint who Jesus brought back to life, Lazarus the brother of Martha and Mary, Magellan named the island in honor of the saint. He had “discovered” the Philippines (The name was given to the archipelago 50 years later, during the reign of Philip II, Hapsburg monarch of Spain)

When Magellan made landfall, it was barely 30 years after the fall of Granada, the last outpost of the Nasrid Empire. In 1492, Boabdil, last Muslim King of Granada, surrendered to the Catholic forces of Ferdinand and Isabella. When Granada capitulated, it had become a swollen knot of refugees from all over the Iberian peninsula.

The island in the Visayan Sea where self’s father was born is called Negros (That name was given to the island by the Spanish because islanders were dark-skinned). She doesn’t think Magellan or any of the explorers who followed actually set foot on the island. But there is a Barangay Granada, which is part of a cluster of land self inherited from her Dear Departed Dad.

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She gleans all this fascinating information from a book which Dearest Mum gave to her a few years ago: La Casa de Dios (The House of God) by Father René B. Javellana, SJ.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Recommended Reading: The New Yorker, “Battle Scars,” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells (4 December 2017)

Self hangs on to New Yorker issues she intends to re-read. Today, she’s re-reading Benjamin Wallace-Wells’ piece on Confederate monuments in Virginia.

This article is about crucial history:

  • In 1890, the city of Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, installed a sixty-two-foot statue of Lee, the first of five statues that anchor Monument Avenue. When the statue to Lee was delivered, more than ten thousand citizens lined the streets to help pull it into place.

And also has this harrowing sentence:

  • In June, 2015, Dylann Roof, a twenty-one-year-old who had immersed himself in white-supremacist ideology, joined a Bible-study group in the basement of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina and, in the midst of the discussion, rose from his chair and massacred nine black congregants.

And this about General Lee:

  • In 1866, a man named Wesley Norris had described Lee’s reaction to an attempted escape: “Not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine.”

And all this bitter history culminates in Charlottesville:

  • The liberal faction that had coalesced at the hearings of the monuments commission had, in a sense, been proved right: it had said that the monuments were symbols of white supremacy, and now white supremacists were coming to town to defend them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

PROLIFIC: Title of an Ilocano Grammar, Published 1627 in “The Most Noble and Ever Loyal City of Manila”

Other PROLIFIC:


The book’s original title was

  • Arte de la lengua iloca compuesto por el Padre fr. Francisco Lopez de la Orden de San Agustin (translation: Ilocano Grammar, compiled by Father Francisco Lopez, Augustinian Priest)

For its second edition, published 165 years later, the title had become

  • Compendio y methodo de la suma de las reglas del arte del idioma ilocano, que a los principios del siglo pasado compuso el M.R.P. Fray Francisco Lopez del orden de S. Agustin, y a los ultimos de este siglo apunto otro religioso de la misma orden, el M.R.P. Predicador Fray Fernando Rey, Examinador synodal de este Obispado

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#currentlyreading: SHACKLETON’S JOURNEY by William Grill (Flying Eye Books, 2014)

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After bravely battling “through over 700 miles of pack ice, Endurance was overcome.” The entire crew had spent “over 48 hours” attacking “the ice furiously with ice-chisels, picks, and saws. The little ship moved, although it was beset again — 400 yards of heavy ice lay between her and open water.”

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Hemmed in by “tough, solid ice up to 3 feet thick, with pieces up to a mile long,” they were stuck. The ship itself would become their winter base. The crew built dog igloos “out on the ice, made from wood and snow” and hunted “penguins to increase their food stocks.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Guardian’s 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time

There is very little overlap been self’s reading list and the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time by The Guardian.

Below, books on The Guardian’s list that self has read:

2. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion

5. Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama

9. Dispatches, by Michael Herr

15. The Double Helix, by James D. Watson

20. Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson

23. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and EB White

33. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child-care, by Dr. Benjamin Spock

42. Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain (for a course on the Literature of World War I, taught by Prof. Albert Guerard at Stanford)

44. Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves (for a course on the Literature of World War I, taught by Prof. Albert Guerard at Stanford)

65. Roget’s Thesaurus

83. A History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon

92. The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys, via Claire Tomalin’s excellent biography of Pepys’ life

Russia in the Waning Days of the Romanov Dynasty, 1906: Doomed

The Romanovs, 1613 – 1918, p. 530:

As the pogromchiki were killing 3,000 Jews from Vilna to Kishinev, two junior bureaucrats — Alexander Dubrovin and a rabble-rousing pogromist from Kishinev, Vladimir Purishkevich — formed a Union of Russian People, a movement of noblemen, intellectuals, shopkeepers and thugs who rallied support for “Tsar, faith and fatherland” around extreme nationalism and anti-semitic violence. The Union was the political wing of rightist vigilantes, the Black Hundreds, who fought revolutionaries and slaughtered Jews. Fascists fourteen years before the word was invented in Italy, the Black Hundreds marched in the tsar’s name but despised his compromises with parliamentarians.

Clearly, dear blog readers, the seeds of the Holocaust were planted long, long before World War II. The Romanovs were anti-Semites. Tsar Nicholas II’s “table-talk was peppered with anti-Jewish banter, typical of many a European aristocrat of this era — telling his mother how a courtier ‘amused us very much with funny Jewish stories — wonderfully good at imitating Jews and even his face suddenly looks Jewish!’ . . .  To him, a newspaper was a place where ‘some Jew or other sits . . .  making it his business to stir up passions of peoples against each other.’ ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Sentence of the Day: THE ROMANOVS, 1613 – 1918, p. 467

He may have been a primordial throwback, but now (Emperor) Alexander had to operate in the world of public opinion, stock markets and newspapers in which he found some of his most unlikely advisers, none more so than Prince Vladimir Meshchersky, known by enemies at the court as “Prince of Sodom” and among the intelligentsia as “Prince Full-Stop” after he demanded all reform must come to that punctuation mark.


Dear blog readers, self can’t even.

Stay tuned.

Books About War

Self adores reading books about war. Perhaps it is the drama, the spectacle. A good war book thrills her like no other.

She mentions this as she’s come to a point in The Romanovs where Alexander, the grandson of Catherine the Great, becomes Emperor of Russia. He was Catherine the Great’s chosen heir, only she died too quickly (at 68) and Alexander’s vicious father Paul took over (Paul was so terrible a monarch that he was strangled by his ministers after just five years in power)

When the crown is brought to Alexander, he doesn’t want it and weeps. Which means: he made a really good Emperor. And he ruled for 24 years.

Anyhoo, here we are on p. 288. Alexander, a very green monarch, has to face Napoleon. Napoleon recognizes the weakness of his opponent and says to his men, “Let’s finish this war with a thunderclap.” He launches his attack on Alexander’s forces, and 28,000 Russians are slaughtered (That is almost a third of the population of the city where self lives: Redwood City, California). Alexander is “almost run down by his own men as they” flee “for their lives.” Alexander comes down with a fever (Self would, too, if she had to watch 28,000 men slaughtered on a battlefield) and was sustained only by his doctor administering “wine and opium.”

But — Alexander does not collapse! He declares Napoleon the “Beast of the Apocalypse” and enlists the man who murdered his father to muster the Russian troops. The Russians fight Napoleon “to a grinding, bloody draw at Eylau, losing 26,000 men,” but the French lose 20,000. The carnage is appalling, but Alexander, understanding that he must be in it “for the long game,” sues for peace (Catherine the Great was right to choose him over his father!).

Alexander is twenty-nine when he and Napoleon meet at the Niemen River. Napoleon recounts that he “chattered away,” but Alexander understood his game. Alexander tells his mother (who loathed the French): “We will do everything to prove the sincerity” of Russia’s “tight alliance with France, this fearful colossus . . . until the moment when we will calmly observe his fall.”

p. 295: “As for Napoleon, he started to despise Alexander with that special hatred reserved for the beloved mistress who ends a cherished affair.”

Good stuff!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: p. 266, THE ROMANOVS, 1613-1918

  • Everything is turned upside down at once . . . It is impossible for me to enumerate all the madness . . .  in a country that had become a plaything for the insane . . .  the army wastes all its time on the parade ground . . .  Power is unlimited and exercised perversely. You can judge how I am suffering.

— Alexander, grandson of Catherine the Great, about his own father, Paul, Emperor of Russia from 1796 (when Catherine died) to 1801

p. 154: THE ROMANOVS, 1613 – 1918

Sebag-Montefiore divides his history of the Romanovs into three Acts. Act II, which self began reading over the weekend, is called The Apogee, c. 1700 – 1800.

Instead of chapters, there are “Scenes.” Below is an excerpt from Scene 2: The Empresses.

p. 154:

  • Golitsyn, the grandson of Regent Sophia’s minister, had secretly converted to Catholicism to marry an Italian girl and, as a punishment, (Empress) Anna ordered him to abandon the wife and serve as her cupbearer . . .  Golitsyn’s speciality was to dress as a hen and sit on a straw basket nest for hours clucking in front of the court. After mass on Sundays, Golitsyn and the other fools sat in rows cackling and clucking in chicken outfits.

More scenes of depravity to follow.

Stay tuned.

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