Last week of classes

And that means grading.

But the research projects for the semester are finally concluded, for which I’m thankful.

New posts will be on the way, including a summary of the Performances of Peace conference that I just returned from last week.

And given a particular book review of our Marlborough book that will remain semi-anonymous, this summer must be the summer of destroying Winston Churchill’s biography of the Duke. I didn’t think it was necessary, but apparently it is. Unfortunately I’m too impatient for Max Planck’s constant to take effect: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Maybe I’m tilting at windmills, but then English accounts of the war could use a bit more of the ‘windmill perspective.’

What else is coming up on the blog, you ask?

  • More on note-taking, with Devonthink Pro Office and Scrivener
  • More on battle
  • Martial music
  • Recent publications
  • Playing around with basic textual analysis
  • Random quotes and visualizations

SMHBLOG blog posts will include:

  • Review of a iPad app on the battle of the Bulge
  • The challenge of narrating war-years
  • The Ostwald Review Index
  • Other stuff I can’t remember right now.

But for now, gotta grade.


5 responses to “Last week of classes”

  1. Ubik1970 says :

    ‘Destroying’ seams and arrogant response. If for nothing else WC’s biography is worth reading for its elegance and literary worth.

    A little humility and the acceptance that you do not have all the answers would not go amiss.

    • jostwald says :

      Arrogance begets arrogance I guess… Perhaps ironically, a future post will indeed address the issue of the arrogance of the Marlborough literature.

  2. Erik Lund says :

    I’m a bit late to the party, but, seriously, “arrogance?” Churchill’s Marlborough is 80 years old.

    Now, sometimes, age isn’t an issue. Scholarship works by finding new sources, checking old ones and applying new methodologies. If no-one is doing that work, a book is not likely to be superceded. Want to learn the ins and outs of Britain’s Baltic diplomacy in the 1720s? Read Chance.

    Safe to say, however, that Marlborough’s generalship isn’t in this category. It would not be hard to find, say, a 1999 monograph that finds significant errors in Churchill. And 1999 is just one year out of the 80 that have passed.

    In short, there’s lots of problems with Churchill’s Marlborough, and they have been found, and published. Jamel can say that he will “destroy” this book because it has already been destroyed. It just doesn’t know it yet. It’s a lurching zombie animated only by a residual need to feast on the brains of the living.

    On a completely unrelated note, you know who reminds me of zombies? The aging widowers who shop in a grocery store in the mid-afternoon, baffled by the complexities of a modern world that has passed them by and unwilling to engage it. hoping desperately to find the three or four products familiar to them from their long-past bachelor days, so that they can escape back to their bed sits and return to their golden memories.

    Just sayin’.

  3. Andy Tumath says :

    While I love WC’s Marlborough (as said by Ubik, as much for its elegance and literary worth: the line about his sharing his cloak with Goslinga after a great victory as being “a pearl cast in vain” delights me every time I read it), I can still find the fawning to be a little bit too much at times.
    Would anyone care to highlight some of their preferred pieces amongst more recent, critical takes on WC’s work specifically (I’ve already read Paoletti’s article on Toulon and the good professor’s article on Ramillies), or Marlborough in general?

    • jostwald says :

      I’ll have future posts on the topic, including specific citations of “revisionist” works. But anyone else can feel free to add citations as well.
      The scary thing is, a lot of the revisionist literature is almost as old as Churchill, yet its findings don’t seem to get incorporated into the standard biographical treatments.

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