This month, librarian John Elliott talks about Ancient Rome, and a Dickens' novel.
After reading about shipping disasters on the Mississippi River for the previous two months, I got bored with the 19th century and decided to go back 1900 or so years to Ancient Rome and read Mary Beard’s wonderful SPQR, her history of the first one thousand years of the Roman Empire. Did you know that Romulus and Remus were made up? True. Caligula, roughly translated, means “bootikins.” Cicero had a housing problem, i.e. he liked to purchase too many luxury villas and paid with personal checks. All that and more. A good read.
I then pined for modernity, and threw myself headlong back into the 19th century to start Charles Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit. Was Dickens’ not the king of the 19th century novel? Yes! Martin Chuzzlewit is 800 pages, has near paragraph-length sentences, and even has characters go off for a bad land deal in Illinois, Cairo in particular, which is known as “Eden” in the novel. OK, it will take me weeks to finish, but what else is there to do this month?
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