Some of the people who know me and love me thought I needed to feed my brain on something different from politics, or, at least, something not strictly about politics. For Christmas, I received 11/22/63 by Steven King and The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt. I have now consumed both of them.
Here’s a description of The Swerve:
Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius — a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions.
The copying and translation of this ancient book-the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age-fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.
The poem of Lucretius almost disappeared like so many other books of antiquity.
Meanwhile, Steven King imagines what it would be like to go back in time to 1958 and to try to save President Kennedy’s life. How would you go about it? What might stand in your way? And what might be the consequences? You have five years to accomplish your task.
So, I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties while I contemplated threads of time and alternate universes and how I would have gone about writing King’s novel much differently, but never with as much skill.
I’m back now, and my brain’s fed, if a little off-kilter.