Years ago, when one of my post-graduate instructors back at university on Long Island encountered any of us “loitering” around in the offices, or in any way NOT engaged in our studies, grinning, he used to question us loudly: “Why aren’t you in the library!?”
Naturally we would seek to offer rationales – some reasonable, some decidedly less so – as to why we weren’t where he had thought we should be.😜
Then again, just because you are tucked away in bookstacks, or locked in your dorm room surrounded by books you’ve borrowed from the library, neither means you are reading what you are “supposed” to be reading:
Ulysses S. Grant would of course twenty-five or so years later command what would be for a time the largest army in the world in winning the US Civil War. A few years after that, he would be elected to two terms as US president.
Small reading world. The “Bulwer’s” Grant notes there is Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote The Last Days of Pompeii, among many others. Pompeii may be his most famous today: it has been adapted for stage, television and film numerous times.
Bulwer-Lytton lived just up the road from where I’m typing this – at Knebworth House, here in Hertfordshire, England.
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😎When England is irresistible: a sunny Sunday morning, in light traffic an hour ago on the A1(M) (northbound)… and briefly imagining [sigh] that all is right with the world.😊🏴🇬🇧☀️😂 (And, no, I was not driving! I would NEVER take a road photo while I’m driving!🚗) . #travel #A1M #Hertfordshire #England #goodmorning #morning #Sunday #sky #clouds #rural #motorway #scenic #life #writers #writersofinstagram #authors #authorsofinstagram #expats #expatlife #photos #photography #humor #humour
A pic I have taken of Knebworth House:
As a group the novelists Grant mentions are of varying familiarity in our current day. Bulwer-Lytton, James Fenimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans – you should certainly know!), Walter Scott (Ivanhoe), and Washington Irving (The Sketch Book, which includes short stories such as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”), remain reasonably well-known and read. On the other hand, Frederick Marryat and Charles Lever are rather more obscure looking back from our now 21st century.
In his last months, Grant would also write what is still the most highly-regarded presidential autobiography – from where that paragraph comes. Recounting his life only up until 1865 (the end of the Civil War), he died of cancer just five days after completing the manuscript in 1885. Since its publication, it has never been out of print.🇺🇸
“Much of the time, I am sorry to say, was devoted to novels.” Hmm. Seems he had no reason really to be “sorry.” Reading those novels didn’t appear to hurt him too much. 🙂
To conclude, here’s some social media fun. Yesterday, for the benefit of those perhaps unfamiliar with it, I had directly @’d Knebworth House itself in my Instagram post on this. This morning, I found that Henry Lytton-Cobbold, great-great-great grandson of Bulwer-Lytton, had “liked” that post, too.😂📸📚🇬🇧
Have a good day, wherever you are in the world.😊