The Secret History by Procopius sounded like an interesting book however many years ago that I got it. Behind the scenes dirt about people in power! Since then, I’ve gotten tired of behind the scenes dirt about people in power. There is too much of it. I am also somewhat out of patience with the kind of people who write tell-alls, no matter the century.
Perhaps under the illusion that I might someday read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire because that is what educated people do, when they’re not quoting Proust or sewing elbow patches on their jackets, I bought Gibbon’s Memoirs of My Life. I’m not that fascinated with Roman history; I’m no longer pretending to be an educated person; I do not care about Gibbon’s life.
For further evidence that I’m not that excited about history, I offer the fact that I bought a book called The Grand Quarrel: Selections from the Civil War Memoirs of Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson, Ann, Lady Fanshawe, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, Anne, Lady Halkett, Mrs. Alice Thornton, and the letters of Brilliana, Lady Harley to her son Edward. That’s the English Civil War. The one with roundheads versus guys with long curly locks. I want to be interested, since women’s voices are often left out of history, but I’m just not. The introduction, however, was pretty interesting.
John Aubrey’s Brief Lives has also been voted off the island. I made it through the introduction, but gave up in the first pages of the actual book. I don’t care about gossip about important or famous people from the 1600’s. I don’t care about gossip about current people, for that matter. I do not need to have my sense that people are often jerks validated any more, particularly if the gossip takes the form of notes rather than story. I like story.
That said, I also will ditch the story collection Experiences of an Irish R.M.. I read the introduction and began the first story, but it was going to be one of those elitist comedy things. I’m tired of elites laughing at regular people in addition to oppressing them.
My father at some point in his college career was compelled to take an English course. He still cannot speak about Chaucer without a shudder; I love him anyway. I assume it was during the same class that he acquired Ernest Bernbaum’s 1933 edition of The Best of Dryden. I suffered through the introduction and the first few poems and decided that Dryden is just not my cup of tea. The smile I got in seeing my dad’s name on the flyleaf back when he wrote his last name with actual letters in the second half and the fraternity letters underneath is not a good enough reason to save the book. I will note that he is a much neater note-taker than my mom and a perceptive reader.
I bought the book Stretching a long time ago in one of my fits of cheap fitness ideas. Turns out that stretching isn’t that complicated. Away goes the book.
The last book I’m getting rid of is one that weighs more than all the others put together, at least in the psychic sense. It is a manual for a role playing game that I have never played. It was a present I got in the first excitement of a potential new relationship. Now it reminds me of being a transitional object in someone’s development. I am past that now and do not need to have the book hanging around to remind me of bad times. I’ve never really expressed my hurt and anger around that situation; it seems pointless now, since it was so long ago. I can give the book away and be done with it.
It’s kind of nice to realize what I’m not and what I don’t need to pretend to be anymore; it makes more room to be who I am.