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Current Issue

Winter 2012

On My Bookshelf: Professor Paul Harris

Currently reading: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark.

First impressions: Very positive. On the first few pages she deftly introduces the various pupils who have fallen under Miss Brodie's spell. I want to know more.

Last great read: The Genius and the Goddess by Aldous Huxley. He is an unusual novelist because he is comfortable exploring the world of science, but, like his friend D.H. Lawrence, he had misgivings about the long-term impact of scientific and technological developments on human relationships.

Book you've read over and over: I remember passionately rereading a story by Enid Blyton, Mr. Galliano's Circus, as a boy. Sadly, the book is out of print. It offers a wonderful insider's view of circus life. I say that I reread it, but that's not absolutely true. At one point in the book, there is a storm and Jumbo the elephant, terror-stricken, breaks free and disappears. I used to find the idea of Jumbo being lost and separated from the circus so disturbing that I regularly skipped the chapter.

Noneducation genre of choice: I enjoy biography. My most recent favorite was a biography of William James by Robert Richardson. Not only is it a vivid portrait of William James, who must have been enormously likeable and approachable, it also gave me a much greater awareness of the intellectual spirits that preside over Cambridge, Mass.

Next up: David Lodge, whose comic writing about academic life is great fun, has written a quasi-biography of H.G. Wells. It will be available any day now in the United States, and I might just treat myself.