"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Birthdays Today

It's an apocryphal story in our family.  I say, "I would convert to Catholicism, if only I could read up on it on my own and not take the class."   And my wife says, "'Read up on it on your own?'  That's how Martin Luther got started!"

It's Martin Luther's birthday, born in 1483 in Eisleben, Germany.   The Gutenberg  Bible was first printed in Germany in the 1450s.   Luther, in other words, was born at the right time, the right place.


It's also Ann Reinking's birthday, born in 1949.  Reinking was the great, long-legged dancer in many of the Bob Fosse movies and shows.   Here she is in a cool scene from All That Jazz:


Finally, it's also the birthday of John P. Marquand, one of my absolute favorite novelists, whose best novels of the 1940s and 1950s captured a certain kind of adult upper middle-class man of accomplishment and experience -- the kind of man who made America great, but who is now derided and ignored in contemporary literature and the academy in favor of feminism, multiculturalism, etc.   Marquand was born in 1893.   His best book, about a trust company officer who has recently returned from service in World War II, is 1948's Point of No Return.  Wickford Point, also from the 1940s, about a writer, is also very good, and particularly pointed in its criticism of academic literary critics who look down their noses at writers who write for money.  

P.S. Not sure what the prices mean in the Amazon listings below.   The books are probably out of print.  Unfortunate.  But they were huge bestsellers in their day, so they would likely be at a good used bookstore.  (Someday I will write a paean to used booksellers... we have a really good one a block from my office, and I've spent many a lunch hour trolling through looking at cheap books.   Unless you are desperate for the feel of a brand new book, there's almost no reason to ever pay anything near full price.)

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