Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Middle of Next Week

In the introduction to his Essays Ancient and Modern, Bernard Knox writes
I remembered often the man in Lewis Carroll's poem who "thought he saw a rattlesnake,  / that questioned him in Greek, /He looked again and found it was / The Middle of Next Week." Though it had taken me a long time, I had finally realized that when you read Thucydides, or Sophocles, or any of the great Greek writers, you may think you see an ancient text that speaks to you in Greek. You look again, and find it is The Middle of Next Week.
 The book is absorbing, surprisingly so when I consider that it consists largely of extended book reviews. Of them, I so far like best "The Greek Conquest of England" and "Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War: Politics and Power."

Knox, who died just two years ago, led a remarkable early life, sketched out in the introduction. In 1937 he was wounded serving with the International Brigades at Madrid. In 1943 he was an officer of the U.S. Army, training for infiltration behind German lines with such men as William Colby, Lou Conein, and John Singlaub, all later notable Cold Warriors. He served behind the lines in Brittany, with Italian partisans ("party-jans" according to some less linguistically gifted generals) on the front lines of a then secondary front, and was fortunate not to be landed in Honshu to seek out Japanese party-jans.

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