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To be a visionary

Posted by on Jun 9, 2021 in Miscellaneous Jottings | 0 comments

Herman Melville once wrote to Nathaniel Hawthorne in these words:    In a week or so, I go to New York, to bury myself in a third-story room, and work and slave on my “Whale” while it is driving through the press. That is the only way I can finish it now, — I am so pulled hither and thither by circumstances. The calm, the coolness, the...

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Is etymology relevant?

Posted by on Jul 26, 2020 in Miscellaneous Jottings | 0 comments

It did not take us long to transform civilization. In fifty years, we have almost stopped making war, standardised the possibility of making love without increasing the population, quarantined half of humanity, taken from our children the games once played by hands and offered them video games instead, and replaced books with social networks! The digital...

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Montaigne’s back room

Posted by on Apr 3, 2020 in Miscellaneous Jottings | 3 comments

In these days of solitary confinement, this correspondent remembers a one-time lawyer and courtier in 16th century France who inscribed a few lines in Latin on a pillar of his study that read like this: “…. on the last day of February, his birthday, Michael de Montaigne, long weary of the servitude of the court and of public employments, while still...

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That Vital Need for the Pestilence-stricken Multitude

Posted by on Mar 29, 2020 in Miscellaneous Jottings | 0 comments

O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous. Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s . . . Thus exploded the raging King Lear in Shakespeare’s play when he realised that his two daughters were trying to deprive him of all that represented his identity. The king’s daughters were...

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Re-reading Albert Camus’s ‘The Plague’

Posted by on Mar 26, 2020 in French Literature, French Writers | 1 comment

 “Everyone knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world,” writes Albert Camus in his novel The Plague (La Peste). “Yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet plagues and wars always take people by surprise.” Albert Camus never made the...

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