Friday, October 26, 2012

Now on to Renascence

Jacques Barzun (1907-2012) passed on yesterday. I first chanced across one of his books in the early 1960s (The House of Intellect) and felt a resonance. Later I read at least one other, perhaps more, of his forty-plus books, among them certainly Science: The Glorious Entertainment. Then, for me, came a hiatus—followed by a surprise. The surprise was From Dawn to Decadence, undoubtedly Barzun’s major work. It came out of the blue as a gift from Brigitte in the year of its publication, 2000. We read selected parts of the massive tome together on weekends. There are these circles, of course, of invisible friends, and he was one of ours. In that book Barzun highlights “notable figures” in each period of his 500-year history (1500-2000), and we discovered that Dorothy Sayers was one of these—which simply confirms the existence of such circles (link). Barzun has moved on. Had he lived another month, he would have been 105. It must have been quite a trial to live that long—but now, finally, it’s over.

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