What I’m Reading/In the Book Review

The book pile has undergone meiosis: there are two piles. This happens. It happens often. Eventually, some of the books in each of the current piles get swept back into other, attendant piles. That will not happen this time!

I’m trying hard to finish The Stillborn God (Mark Lilla on religion and politics) by the end of the week, because I want to be done with it before we head off to St Croix. It’s not an easy read by any means, especially because there’s a great deal about Kant, and I have a preliminary problem with Kant that makes reading about his thought very difficult: how can anybody not have figured out that Kant is (a) unwholesome and (b) ridiculous? Much more appealing are two recent books by Ramsay MacMullen that I ordered from a catalogue of Yale books, Voting About God in Early Church Councils and Christians and Pagans in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries. These plainspoken titles fail to suggest the vibrancy of Prof MacMullen’s scholarship. But I’m saving both books – they’re quite slim – for St Croix.

Other books that I’ll be taking with me include three Miss Marple mysteries, all of which I know inside and out from the Joan Hickson adaptations (I haven’t yet moved on to the somewhat shorter Geraldine McEwans). I shall leave whatever I read behind at the hotel. I’m also taking Tony Attwood’s The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome.

I thought I’d have read The Abstinence Teacher by now, but it looks like something that I’ll get to after the Thanksgiving break.

As for this week’s Book Review (which has so many bad reviews that I set up a new section just for them.)

The Colossus.

One Response to “What I’m Reading/In the Book Review

  1. Ellen says:

    Dear RJ,

    Jim is the music person; for me I’m reading (among other books) Linda Colley’s _Captives_. A little on this:

    It’s post-colonial perspective on the slave and prisoner trade in the Atlantic world (meaning across the seas of the British empire) was preparatory for the conference I wrote about on my blog.

    It’s a superb book — well written. Her thesis is the tiny British
    isles never had the man-power or money to control the vast empire it pretended to. To coin a phrase from modern American slang, England was all hat and few cattle. The result was the vulnerable and small who ventured forth were continually subject to capture and slavery in various forms. On the way she shows the reader how important to English economic life was its connections to a central world beyond the North American continent on the one hand, and Australia and New Zealand and South Asia on the other: the land masses surrounding the
    Mediterranean, the Ottoman empire and Islamic world, north Africa and its environs.

    It has a problem though: it’s based wholly on anecdotes and these are very problematic (memoirs are filled with lies, partly from memory and partly necessarily self-protective). This is hard to overcome. The reality is the “other” in the form of the experience of those who were oppressed or put under a British regime or who won and became the victors and captors did not have a tradition of
    documentation and kept most people from printing anything at all so we know very very little about the “other” in these cases. The
    English did keep documentation on criminals, property, government doings, taxes, and there was an open literary marketplace and a tradition which allowed people to write of their private lives. So we do have something to go on, and it’s better than sheer silence.

    Her Elizabeth Marsh book came out of this.

    Cheers to you, RJ,