-PD-US, Château de Voltaire

Attrib: Château de Voltaire, PD-US.


History, Literature, Reviews.

Voltaire is a sharp kick in the pants

Voltaire always had his wits about him. When once a visitor arrived, announcing that he had just come from a visit to another well-known writer, Voltaire offered the opinion that the aforementioned writer was a man of talent, and the visitor replied that that writer did not hold the same opinion of Voltaire, to which Voltaire retorted, 'We could both be wrong.'

-PD-US, Marion Hooper Adams

Attrib: Marion Hooper Adams, PD-US.


Education, Essays, Literature.

Can precision in writing be attained?

I was reading a recent article by Andrew Sullivan, who asks the question: "Does punctuation matter?" The discussion was nominally about internet and texting abbreviation in both word and thought, but raised other questions to me:

Does precision in writing matter? If so, when does it matter? These are devilish questions.

Book Book Review, Title American Sphinx, Author Joseph J. Ellis, Rating 4.0,

American Sphinx

Joseph J. Ellis

Book Review

Essays, History, Literature, Reviews.

Jefferson’s legacy

Joseph Ellis provides us with an ambitious analysis of the compartmentalized mind of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was extraordinarily adept at saying and writing, apparently believing, and doing things that were paradoxical and often diametrically opposed to each other. Ellis suggests that this helps to explain his enduring following by just about every political persuasion in the United States, and even abroad: Anyone can find in Jefferson something that supports one's ideology, especially if they studiously ignore, in perfect Jeffersonian fashion, the things Jefferson said or did that would negate their ideology.

-PD-US, William R. Shepherd

Attrib: William R. Shepherd, PD-US.


History, Literature, Religion, Reviews.

Is religious tolerance religious freedom?

Divided by Faith, by Benjamin Kaplan, describes the ensuing religious fragmentation of Western Christendom following the advent of the Reformation, which created fissures in the fabric of European society so large that, after a century of warfare, borne by the exhaustion of bitter hatred and its accompanying destructiveness, the only option left for a more peaceful existence was the grudging co-existence of groups with religious differences.

Book Book Review, Title The Swerve, Author Stephen Greenblatt, Rating 4.0,

The Swerve

Stephen Greenblatt

Book Review

History, Literature, Philosophy, Reviews.

Swerving into modernity

Stephen Greenblatt's book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern is an excellent tale of the influence of Epicurus on the modern way of thinking. Epicurus spoke of change in terms of a 'swerve'; the author's allusion to a swerve otherwise is to the narrow and chance survival during the Renaissance of Lucretius' poem De Rerum Natura, a rumination and celebration of all things Epicurean, and whose influence in subsequent Western thought represents a giant swerve in cosmology, religion and natural philosophy away from Plato and Aristotle and towards Epicurus.

Book Pocket Review, Title The Millenium Trilogy, Author Stieg Larsson, Rating 4.0,

The Millenium Trilogy

Stieg Larsson

Pocket Review

Literature, Reviews.

Lizbet Salander, meet Inspector Maigret

Lizbet, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, carries the Millenium Trilogy. She is a private investigator, a severely withdrawn, highly intelligent young woman who has been terribly abused, both by her father and as a ward of the state. Lizbet trusts no one, and has developed world class computer hacking skills which serve her in good stead in her job as a private investigator and beyond. She teams up with an older investigative journalist, the fruit of said union providing a broad view of two generations of Swedish culture.