I buy anything Stephen Greenblatt writes. He won a Pulitzer Prize for The Swerve, and the National Book Award for Will in the World, both of which I loved. Johns repeated all the highlights of The Swerve to me in glowing detail after I handed it off to him.
Read The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve to get pumped up in support of the "Me Too" movement, whether you've been raped, abused, or blissfully protected as a woman. Read it to understand the history of misogyny fully. Greenblatt's work is like listening to Tolstoy read from one of his novels while telling you essential facts on the side, learning without knowing you've checked into class. And there's no exam at the end, just a bit of renaissance education. I can't wait to see what comes off the press next. Thank you, Stephen—
I use the end pages of books I admire to right important facts I've learned, as I go. This way my memory is refreshed, like sipping a jolt of espresso, opening the cover. I haven't hit the midpoint of this one and my front piece is 3/4's full. I've learned about Philo, the Jewish, Greek philosopher from Alexandria, who believed we should take the creation stories as symbols only, not literally. He who said, our original ancestor was "The only real citizen of the cosmos," and that the true "garden" that we must tend is our soul. Greenblatt's reminded me that the story of Eve presents a convenient base for the subjugation of women, birthing the portrayal of 'the weaker sex' as a siren, mermaid, and serpent.
On a lighter note, I can always count on Stephen to feed me a great many little tidbits, uh-huh moments
extrapolated, introduced or refreshed, like the following:
—gymnasium = a place to exercise naked
—a single papyrus roll = one chapter
—holotypes = type specimen of anything
—apocrypha = Greek for 'hidden'
—Torah first edited = 5th C.B.E.
—in the Nag Hammadi = Eve is the hero
—"adama" = clay in Hebrew/ "adam" = human
—humankind's written record = approximate span of 5,000 years of stories
—Pandora = "all-gifted"
There was a time when rather than swearing—using the old standby's—I found myself saying, "The mother of Amon," often enough that I 'googled' it and was surprised, and mystified by the randomness it portrayed. The experience proved to me the validity of Joseph Campbell's, The Universal Consciousness. Meshullemeth is the mother of Amon, who in his youth reigned two years in Jerusalem. I know no more. Subconsciously, I must have told myself I'd heard my mother utter it, but no, she hadn't. I hadn't heard it in my recent or long-term history. It was an example of an archetype of man linked in the human psyche. It was an expression of the mystery of life.