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Reading Last Week

Well, last week I read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, and The Huntress: The Adventures, Escapades, and Triumphs of Alicia Patterson, Aviatrix, Sportswoman, Journalist, Publisher by Alice Arlen and Michael J. Arlen.

The Four Loves is one of Lewis’s best and though at times a bit clunky and condescending, overall a bracing joy to read. Here’s a quote:

“If ever the book which I am not going to write is written it must be the full confession by Christendom of Christendom’s specific contribution to the sum of human cruelty and treachery. Large areas of ‘the World’ will not hear us till we have publicly disowned much of our past. Why should they? We have shouted the name of Christ and enacted the service of Moloch.”


The Huntress is a book I am reviewing. It’s about Alicia Patterson whom I had never heard of and is a very good biography, strong on narrative, weak on documentation but the kind of book you trust nevertheless. Here’s a quote about Alicia’s father, Joseph Patterson:

“Besides, Patterson’s thoughts as usual were elsewhere. He was still committed to socialism and continued to edit and write for the Daily Socialist. But he had lately shifted, or rather expanded, his perspective on social justice from urban politics to agrarian reform. In this he was a disciple of sorts of Count Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian novelist, who had startled many in his country, beginning with his own family, by leading an idealistic back-to-the-land movement, freeing his two hundred sergs, and trying to institute modern farming methods on his large estate. Patterson himself had no serfs to free, and no estate, large or small, but with Alicia barely three months old, and with Alice and Elinor in tow, plus two domestics and the prospect of hiring another wet nurse from a local farm, he moved his family eighty miles north of Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin. There he installed them in a rented cottage, not far from the campus of the Wisconsin State Agricultural School, in which he had enthusiastically enrolled, so as to learn something about progressiver agriculture while he looked around for a farm to buy.”


I think I picked this quote because I am thinking very seriously of traveling to the complete works of Tolstoy as translated by Nathan Haskell Dole because someone gave it to me; I might read them and write a travel book about them. We’ll see. What makes it interesting, in a certain way, is that Tolstoy hated Dole’s translation.


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