I’ve just finished Jon Meacham’s biography, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. I was struck by the incredible ‘right place, right time’ aspect of Jefferson’s life and came away with a powerful sense of gratitude.
I’m thankful he was here, in America, when he was. Our country might never had existed without him, and if it had gone on without his contributions, it might have been very different than it is today. His skill at drafting the Declaration of Independence, his diplomatic efforts in France, his steady hand at the helm during his presidency, his shrewd Louisiana Purchase, his founding of the University of Virginia, and his contribution of his own personal library to start the Library of Congress show an able politician and a profound thinker.
The thing I like best, however, is his reference to coffee as the favorite drink of the civilized world.
As I enjoy a cup of my own at Le Procope, a local Parisian eatery established in 1686, I always sit street-side, under a brass plaque donated by a Virginia historical society of some sort, noting that Mr. Jefferson himself dined here during his days as a diplomat. As I sip (of course!) an Americano, I try to suck in some of his wisdom, with mixed results. The walls, cluttered with portraits of the great men and women who’ve dined and debated here, positively drip with history. I love it. (I think Keith, one of our regular readers and a fellow gentleman from Virginia, would enjoy it, too.)
I’m presently in the middle of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, which chronicles his early days in Paris, hanging out with Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald, among others. The great writer’s sentences sometimes seem to be punched into the page with a staple gun, composed like a run-on ransom note with hardly a comma or adjective in sight. It’s an interesting style, but it gets old quickly. The fascinating part is reading how little some parts of Paris have changed, 100 years later.
On deck is Henry James’ The Ambassadors, supposedly one of his three great literary masterpieces, again set in Paris. We’ll see how that goes.
So give us a rundown of your latest literary adventures and, briefly, what you think of them. It’s always good to hear about what you’re reading. And I’m glad you’re reading.