This past week saw the conclusion of my annual tribute to France after reading An Outline of French History, by Rene Sedillot. The work is translated from French, but bears no weakness on that account: it is as said before, ‘oddly personable’. The author endeavors to soar high enough above his subject that he can comment on happenings without sounding partial, and he is generally true to his hopes of nonpartisanship. Though it’s narrative history, there are no heroes or villains here; the author is equally hopeful and suspicious of whatever party is ruling at the moment, whether it be the king or ‘the people’. I found it enjoyable, just not particularly remarkable. It is storied history weakened only by the fact that it was written in the late 1940s, and the status of France has changed considerably since then…though there is some amusement to be had in the fact that the author bemoans how strained France’s ties with her good old colonies in Africa and Indochina are becoming.
I also finished Hannah Coulter, an enchanting novel by Wendell Berry about a young widow’s coming-of-age, for which comments are pending, and A Higher Call, a nonfiction work about two opposing pilots (one, an American bomber, the other a German fighter) who have a chance encounter in the skies that ends in mercy. Comments will be posted for it as well.
I am cheerfully undecided on what this week’s reading shall be. I have a set of essays by Wendell Berry, whom I’m increasingly fond of, entitled What Are People For?, and am fairly itching to get back to a couple of my science reads, starting with Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish. I also received Fighting Traffic, by Peter Norton, so there’s a good chance I’ll be starting it.
‘Til then, happy reading!