The Glory of October

I don’t know how many book on Tolkien there are in your library, but in the Upper Dublin Public Library they have attained to a whole entire shelf, not to mention the rest of the library system. I have no doubt it has something to do with the movies, but whatever it is, I welcome it. I’ve read a few books on Tolkien over the years and haven’t gotten a dud yet. It does make me think, I haven’t heard that beyond Humphrey Carpenter’s old biography any better has emerged. Surely that is more than a little strange. Is it the family holding a lid on things? Anyway, I’ve got John Garth’s contribution, a bit of concentrated biography.

* * *

I’m on to that having just finished Ivanhoe again. There is a lot of humor in Ivanhoe, and the right sort. I think nowadays we need to remember it. Think of the use of the term ‘racist’ and how alarmingly it is chucked around not only without a really suitably precise definition, but with righteous indignation, as if the sin committed were the one we think we are absolutely incapable of. Ivanhoe has many things coming together, along with sense and humor.

* * *

I’ve read Periphyseon, John Scotus Eriugena’s great work, with some effort. It is a dialogue between a master and pupil about the five divisions of nature in five books. Because he lived in the ninth century, being associated with the court of Charles the Bald, and because he was the last man for 600 years to know Greek in the west, and because he translated Pseudo-Dionysius and then went researching in Maximus and Gregory of Nyssa for understanding of Dionysius, what you get is a Neoplatonic view of God, creation, metaphysics, physics, and specially anthropology. My Platonism grew.

* * *

Bernardus Silvestris has just been translated by the Dumbarton Oaks outfit. I found it in the new books at Westminster. I’m going to do a bit of him. I have November to explore a bit more of the Middle Ages, the 9th and the 12th centuries in particular. Dumbarton Oaks is putting are nice bilingual editions of all kinds of medieval texts.

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And in our Spanish chats we have gotten to Origen. The great thing about Princeton is they buy Spanish patristic resources. At Princeton they also still stamp the date due in the back of the book, and most of the books I’m getting need to have the paper to stamp on added. It means, I think, I’m the first person to have checked them out. Perhaps the librarians are wondering why I can’t just scan my books like everybody else does. They have quite a few resources in bilingual editions (Greek-Spanish or Latin-Spanish). It is exactly what I need for what I’m doing.

* * *

This week we have reached the 7th commandment in 3-4th grade Sunday school. It is a challenge of another sort, but it is a challenge. I can only think of misleading things to say, and I wonder if that is what one is supposed to do.

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