gall and gumption

Sunday, April 22, 2007


My cousin lives near here and her daughter attends this rather swanky girls' school in Bethesda. Each spring the school has a big book sale -- a huge book sale. I went yesterday and made a complete pig of myself. Here's what I got:

William L. Shirer -- The Collapse of the Third Republic Had my eye on this for a long time, as sort of the end of that strange period of French history that began with oh, I dunno, Talleyrand and Napoleon.
Barbara W. Tuchman -- The March of Folly Read something somewhere months ago that made me want to take a look.
Azar Nafisi -- Reading Lolita in Tehran Met the writer last fall and was embarrassed that I hadn't read the book. I only met her for a second, introduced by a friend who translates medieval Persian poetry, but I always feel a bit of an idiot when I meet the author of a book that everybody has read except me.
Charles Mackay -- Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds It only cost a dollar.
Ludwig Bemelmans -- Tell Them It Was Wonderful Years ago Max Schott told me he liked this guy.
Alan Bennett -- Writing Home I love all of Alan Bennett's non-play writings. Especially especially The Lady in the Van. Yes, I've read this one before but lost my copy or gave it away in one of my many moments of evangelism (I was giving out Delacroix's Journals like Gideon Bibles for a while). Bennett writes wonderfully about people.
Jean Rhys -- Wide Sargasso Sea For a little project I'm working on.
Harold Nicolson -- Benjamin Constant Because everything I have ever read about Benjamin Constant is interesting. And also because of the interest in 19th century France mentioned above.
Philip Larkin -- Collected Poems Because I couldn't remember whether I had a copy and when I peeked into it the poems are so good.
Victoria Glendinning -- Rebecca West: A Life Curious about everything about Rebecca West, and also because Glendinning gave L. at Glittering Generalities 10 reasons to adore Anthony Trollope.
Aleksander Wat -- My Century: The Odyssey of a Polish Intellectual Couldn't walk away from it for some reason.
John Kenneth Galbraith -- The Great Crash of 1929 Tried this years ago, but now that I have been following the housing and credit fiasco I might get more of what he's talking about.
Robert Hughes -- The Shock of the New The man who wrote
Goya, being neither madman nor masochist, had no taste for martyrdom. But he sometimes was heroic, particularly in his conflicted relations with the last Bourbon monarch he served, the odious and arbitrarily cruel Fernando VII. His work asserted that men and women should be free from tyranny and superstition; that torture, rape, despoliation, and massacre, those prennial props of power in both the civil and the religious arena, were intolerable; and those who condoned or employed them were not to be trusted, no matter how seductive the bugle calls and the searing of allegiance might seem. At fifteen, to find this voice -- so finely wrought and yet so raw, public and yet strangely private--speaking to me with such insistence and urgency from a remote time and country I'd never been to, of whose language I spoke not a word, was no small thing. It had the feeling of a message transmitted with terrible urgency, mouth to ear: this is the truth, you must know this, I have been through it. Or, as Goya scratched at the bottom of his copperplates in Los desastres de la guerra: "Yo la vi," "I saw it." Italics by Hughes

about his feeling for Goya and his feeling for painting will have something interesting to say about Modern Art too. That's my hope anyway.
Frederick S. Wight -- Hans Hofmann The great color man of the 20th century. This has a long essay by Hofmann in it.
Hereward Lister Cooke -- Painting Techniques of the Great Masters It was only after I got it home that I realized that the author was curator of painting at the National Gallery here in D.C. and that means I can go look at the paintings.


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