Dirda on Books

^z 24th February 2024 at 7:20am

In "Ending Up", his penultimate column in The American Scholar a few years ago, local author-essayist Michael Dirda writes scathingly about illiterate modern politicians:

... Gladstone, England's most famous 19th-century prime minister, built a personal library of more 32,000 volumes and it was for use, not ostentation. His rival Disraeli, when out of power, brought out excellent and witty novels. At best our leading politicians may occasionally open a book if shown how. ...

and engagingly about his own addiction to reading. In a used-book store he opens a collection of Flaubert's novels at random:

... and my eyes lit on my favorite passage from The Temptation of St. Anthony, the section where the Queen of Sheba appears to the austere saint to tempt him with the delights of her body. Her enticements rise to a climax with the words: "Je ne suis pas une femme, je suis un monde." And it was just those words I opened to: "I am not a woman, I am a world." ...

So of course he had to buy it!

(cf. RadRob re Michael Dirda (2002-10-31), Reading at Risk (2004-09-01), ...) - ^z - 2013-09-17