Sunday Morning! “Pale Rider: the Spanish Flu of 1918” by Laura Spinney

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar PD Shaw
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    says:

    I am reading about the Vampire epidemic of the early 1730s, when the reports from eye witnesses, physicians and royal inquests, gave substance and form to events that captured the attention of literary Europe, including Voltaire and Rousseau. I am reading materials from a college course on the Slavic vampire, that I would usually make fun of, but has reading from various disciplines along with folktales and testimonials: the medical description of the body’s decay; funereal/burial customs; the socioeconomic condition of the peasant; the perseverance of pre-Christian beliefs and the nature of evil, and the relationship between the rise of the vampire, the decline of the witch and the Enlightenment.

    One layer of understanding is that people faced with an invisible killer stalking the house of the recently deceased will develop explanations, some of which raise the importance of opening the house, cleaning and burning the belongings, and a proper burial. Oddly, in most of these stories, a vampire is created because a cat or dog jumps over the dead body, suggesting that the attention of the family has wavered. Symbolism aside, it is widespread illness and withering strength (physical and emotional) that presaged a shallow grave from which vampirism was evidenced.

    Always good to read something that takes one’s mind off of current events.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David
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    says:

    I am reading JG Farrells Troubles, about the period of Irish rebellion surounding the Easter Revolt and its lead-up. It is at turns a English comedy of manners, and an honest relating of the anger simmering under the surface. Highly recomended.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Aaron David
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      says:

      The bookstore owner who gets me stuff is both Irish and very into Irish history, so I will see if he’s read it/getting it in.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Rufus F.
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        says:

        I would be surprised if he hadn’t at least heard of it. Farrell wrote three books in the seventies, all revolving around Britains loss of its empire. The Seige of Krishnapur and The Singapore Grip are the other two. I think two won the Booker. Not sure.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Aaron David
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          says:

          Oh yeah, he’s a well-read guy. I think he used to be in publishing. When they were about to do quarantine, they offered to do free deliveries from a list of new titles. I had no idea what 90% of them were and just said pick me three and I’ll send an etransfer. Sure enough, everything has been great.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Rufus F.
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            says:

            In all honesty, I loved being a bookseller. Everything about it was great, well, almost everything. I hated choosing between rent, child support and making a car payment.

            I still dabble in used book scouting but that really removes you from the cutting edge titles. Oh well.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    For fiction I’m reading the Borrowed, a Hong Kong crime novel, and for non-fiction the German Genius.Report

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