AN AFFRONT TO ENGLISH

The “Russian” Civil Wars 1916-1926, Jonathan D. Smele, presents a fascinating subject. But it seems written in a language that has endings for specific congregations for its verbs and with many declensions for its nouns – languages like Russian, German or Latin.

The strength of English prose is verbs, actions directing nouns. Most well-written books and articles recognize this rule. Verbs are close to subjects; no one ever loses sight of that combination, or the purpose for which noun-verb was used. If a writer likes to discourse in a sentence, go on and on for 70 – 100 -120 words, an English sentence better have parallel structures. Logic dictates it. (It’s not the logic of the language, but logic – premise, minor premise, conclusion)

In Mein Kampf the translator observes,  

…mixed metaphors are just as mixed in one language as in the other

other. A lapse of grammatical logic can occur in any language. An

English language Title might be just a redundant as the German one;…

No non-German would write such labyrinthine sentences…I have

cut down the sentences only when the length made them unintelligible

in English…

The substantives are a different matter. Here it has been necessary

to make greater changes, because in many cases the use of verbal nouns

is singly incompatible with the English language…Hitler’s piling up of

substances is bad German, but the fact remains that numerous German

writers do the same thing, while this failing is almost non-existence in

English.

…much German prose, some not of thee worst quality, around in…

useless little words: wohl, ja, denn, schon, noch, eigentlich, etc. Hitler’s

sentences are …clogged with particles, not to mention such private

favorites as besonders and damals which he strews about…needlessly.

His particles have a certain political significance, for in the petit

bourgeois mind they are, like carved furniture, an embodiment of the

home-grown German virtues, while their avoidance is viewed with

suspicion as foreign and modernistic.

[Translator’s note, Mein Kampf, Boston, Mariner Books, 1999, p. xi-xii.]

Parenthetical words and terms at the beginning of an English sentence, or at the end, or sometimes the middle indicated by the use of parentheses indicate a lack of writing skills.

Let’s observe one demonstration: 

On the contrary, the events that took place in the period from

around  1989 to 1991 and their volcanic reverberations across

the former Soviet space have very greatly enriched, necessitated

and energized historical investigations, as they have made it

unchallengeably clear that any approach to the “Russian” Civil

War that places the Red and White struggle within the matrix too

starkly in its foreground is missing the point.

[Smele, The “Russian” Civil War 1916-1926, N.Y. Oxford, 2017, p. 6]

There’s a lot to chew on in that one sentence. The following sentences present a lot of gristle and fat, also. I noted this sentence was in the INTRODUCTION, and believed getting to Chapter One would break up and provide good sailing.

Alas, the first sentence of Chapter One reads, 

Despite what has already been noted above, the is also a very

strong case for the dating of outbreak of the “Russian” Civil War

on the extensive anti-Russian uprising in Central Asia during the

summer of 1916, as a large number of the tsar’s Muslim subjects,

in a rebellion that anticipated the Basmachi movement, resisted

the forced mobilization into labor battalions to serve the Russian

army and the armaments industry (although this was the most

overt assault on local sensibilities that had been repeatedly

affronted by the waves of non-Muslim settlers that had been moving

into the region for a half century.)

[IBID, p. 17.]

Note the hesitancy to tell anything in the text which is further emphasized by the third sentence of that same paragraph beginning with Moreover and goes on for 100 words or so; the last sentence begins with Thus. Blue pencil it all! Also note, the book defines the Busmachi movement as a term for Muslim bandits during Soviet times. This sentence attempts to expand and explain incidences in the nineteenth century as well as those occurring, perhaps at late as 1980.

The usual manner of writing history or even fiction is for a non-writer to write chronologically. This writer decides to put a flashback into parentheses while using Soviet terms indicating more recent events. The outcome is a whole series of unexplained events of one hundred fifty years.

I wanted to learn of the “Russian” Civil War, its battles, the philosophy, its politics, and how its effects might survive today. But reading such diversion makes the story overly complicated, suggests portions of that war arose from local circumstances, and demonstrates the historian does not have a the big picture in his head clearly. He could not communicate much. The writing reminded me of translator’s note from Mein Kampf.  

P.S. One way Hermann Boell was taught to write was editing Mein Kampf, editing to a third of its length. The text was readable. I believe The “Russian” Civil War could benefit from the same treatment and be vastly improved.

Advertisements

THE SPANISH-AMERICAN FRONTIER; THE MISSISSIPPI QUESTION, 1783-1803

By Arthur Preston Whitaker

The historian, Arthur Whitaker, was an eminent fellow who wrote diplomatic and foreign relations history simply and well. He researched in Spain before the Spanish Civil War and next published these two volumes 80-90 years ago.

What are the stories? Governments of Spain, the United States, France and Britain all tried to exert influence and control west of the Appalachians. The targets were native Americans, who didn’t like any of the Europeans, and emigrants from the eastern States coming into the Ohio and the Tennessee Valleys. They wanted to use the Mississippi River to the sea. Movers and shakers were land spectators, commercial sharks and politicians, somewhat represented by John Wilkerson, US Army Brigadier General who negotiated with the Spanish to bring Kentucky under Spanish rule, had a Spanish pension (mostly unpaid), and had other intrigues with Spanish authorities in New Orleans. Wilkerson, of course, had been a friend of Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War.

Having no rules and less law and order west of the Appalachians between 1783-1803 was a boon to many, one being William Clark, brother of George Rogers Clark, Revolutionary War hero. Clark intrigued, tried to push the Spanish out, had a military unit, fought Native Americans in private wars, speculated in land and complained to the Spanish that the natives were restless. After the Louisiana Purchase (1803) he went west with Meriwether Lewis and came back to become governor of the Missouri Territory. Later he was Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Incidentally, having connived and intrigued for 20 years James Wilkerson survived the 1807 Treason Trial of Aaron Burr; with a few wrinkles he kept offices and rank.

The story begun in these books tell of New York interests, involving Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. They were good friends, having vibrant conversations, dining together and partying. Hamilton’s fingerprints are all over plans and intrigues involving British-American plots to diminish Spanish contacts and push Spain from North America. Hamilton and Burr likely talked much about west of the Appalachian intrigues and filibustering. After 1804 Burr continued those activities but not enough to constitute treason. Note, at some time Aaron Burr moved his personal papers to North Carolina, a staging area for a move west. Americans now know of these papers because Burr has few: They were lost at sea along with the ship and Burr’s daughter.

Whatever happened west of the Appalachians involving Burr and Hamilton, was further obscured by The Louisiana Purchase, Burr killing Hamilton in a dual (1804) and the Burr Treason Trial judged by John Marshall(1807).

More history needs researching, but these two volumes provide a solid foundation on which to begin. 

NEW MARTHA MITCHELL

Remember the old Martha Mitchell, wife of Attorney General John Mitchell? She not related to Margaret or to Andrea. She was nicknamed, Mouth of the South, and forcibly sedated by a shrink. While intoxicated on something himself, Nixon said she had a drinking problem. 

The new Martha Mitchell is Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court. 

Ginni believes she can scold persons who she disagrees with using Twitter-like words. It is Twitter when the writer writes “u” rather than “you,” and uses words that comprise incomplete sentences.

Ginni wrote: “To all the kids that walked out of school to protest guns. Those are the shoes of Jews that gave up their firearms to Hitler. They were led into gas chambers, murdered and buried in mass graves. Pick up a history book and you’ll realize what happens when u give up freedoms and why we have them.” (From The Hill website.)

Also from The Hill website Ginni rants, “I want the old regular America back,…MINUS left’s awful tactics.”

First Issue: Is this how Clarence Thomas wants to be represented? It detracts from the dignity and the serenity of the Supreme Court. It suggests on any Second Amendment issue, Clarence Thomas has already made up his mind and is forcibly influenced by an intimate voice. He should disqualify himself from those deliberations and any Court opinion. It supports the inference that if Clarence Thomas does not recuse himself, he has not fulfilled his oath of office: He is not servicing “in good behavior.”

Second Issue: Americans can expect anyone writing about Constitutional issues and politics to discuss the issues using rational means, unlike an angry Don Trump tweet. Perhaps Ginni Thomas knows her audience and apparently like herself, she knows the full extent of the attention span: State what is needed in 25 words or less. Framers of the Constitution, except Luther Martin, had longer attention spans than 25 words. No one arguing about the Bill of Rights in Congress in August, 1789, would listen to Ginni. 

Third Issue: Ginni urges gun protestors to read and learn history. That is commendable. But what of her history?

Ginni is ignorant. No one in Europe except the Swiss, had customs and statutory policies [not Constitutional Rules],  about owning and using firearms. Neither Jews nor anyone else had access to firearms. No one gave up firearms and next were marched into concentration camps. Where most of the Jewish victims of the camps came from – Central and Eastern Europe – there were no rights to bear arms.

Would the Holocaust have happened in a state where everyone could obtain firearms is a consideration which is off-point. It the German “left” had arms, would they have begun a Civil War to stave off Hitler? That’s a “what if” question. Note in Iraq Saddam Hussein let Iraqis bear arms, yet they lived under a “brutal” dictatorship.

What is the history in the old regular America of the 1960s. Eldridge Cleaver called for responses from “armed mad N—–s.” I don’t know how Ginni balances things because Cleaver was on the “left,” but he favored using firearms.

Also in the history of the old regular America were the right to bear arms and using them to kill political persons, “the left.” For instance within the life of Clarence Thomas, the Civil Rights Movement lost two notable figures Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King along with others trying to gain rights under the United States Constitution.   

Is is unfair to infer that the rant from Ginni Thomas suggests, Guys with guns have a right to kill everyone on “the left?” 

It is unlikely Ginni Thomas wants to leave that impression, but who knows? Her powers of communication must amplify beyond the 25 words-or-less audience.

Go back to Jim Crow days, does the old regular America include the times when some African Americans used guns to threaten whites and the KKK? Books have been written, but apparently unread and not considered.

“I want the old regular America back…MINUS the left’s awful tactics.” Does that support the America favored by Roy Moore, who believed everything in America was good and fine, when America had slavery, before the Thirteenth Amendment?

Fourth Issue: There is vehemence and hate in Ginni Thomas’s statements. During Bob Dole’s concession speech after the 1996 election results became public, he was interrupted by someone in the audience calling Bill Clinton “an enemy.” Dole corrected that voice: Bill Clinton was my opponent, not my enemy. Curiously, one can write derogatorily and humorously about an opponent, but that writing is very difficult against an enemy.

I grew up in a Conservative community and most of the people were ignorant and dull. I next went to Berkeley where the students and residents were ignorant, excitable and drugged. I learned along the way the all Americans must learn how to express themselves and support social and political positions beyond slogans, advertising or otherwise. (See Mein Kampf for political usefulness of slogans.) Americans are beyond Hitler and beyond the old regular America, unless they resort to homilies, slogans, chants, cheers, bromides, mottos and shibboleths. 

As Americans we must do better. Don’t wait for your opponents to steal a base or get a leg up. Do better now!   

JEFF VS. DON

 

  1. Jeff wears no makeup. Don is a painted man.

2.      Jeff has an imagination in business. Don is not a dreamer.

3.      Jeff looks ahead to the future. Don misunderstands the past.

4.     Jeff represents truth, justice and American business. Don is a Queenie.

5.     Jeff can write a check for a billion dollars. Don owes creditors a billion dollars.

6.    Jeff employs thousands of human beings. Don has fired scores of employees.

7.    Jeff is proposing a solution for health care. Don needs solutions for his health care.

8.    Jeff owns The Washington Post. Don is a source of fake news.

9.    Jeff has a retail site selling many products. Don’s imported trademarked products are found discounted at Ross, Marshalls, T.J. Max and Goodwill.

10.  Jeff can buy clothes off the rack. Don needs a bolt of material to make a suit.

11.  Mrs. Jeff sells books on the Internet. Mrs. Don has many free photographs on the Internet.

These reasons and more are why Don hates Jeff.

STORMY DANIELS PRIVACY

A confidentiality agreement is a promise to keep something private, or a pledge to keep something private.

Stormy Daniels signed a 2016 confidentiality agreement supposedly prepared by an attorney representing candidate Don Trump. Trump did not sign; the attorney, a non-party to the agreement, did not sign. The attorney advanced $130,000 of his own money to pay Daniels. Don Trump and his minions now claim the candidate did not know of the agreement with Stormy Daniels; Trump has not repaid the attorney for advancing the money. The reasons to disclaim knowledge of the agreement and of the money appears campaign finance law violations.

Under these facts a third party, the attorney, is trying to interpose a confidentiality agreement on Daniels (1) which has been disclaimed by the principal on other side, (2) which was never executed by the principal on the other side and (3) an executed fully enforceable agreement presents a prima facie case of a crime.

Stormy Daniels’ situation is like circumstances of victims, suspects, and law enforcement, on one hand, and internet companies and computer/telecommunication companies, on the other hand. The so-called electronic privacy agreements between the Internet/computer companies and suspects who commit crimes is the same as Stormy and the attorney. The Agreements drafted by Internet/Computer companies can be modified at will by the drafting parties e.g. Apple Computer routinely grants the Chinese government any access it wants. Consideration can be gone. Yet some Internet/Computer companies assert the right to keep secret the actions which may constitute an obstruction of justice; or they be aid the commission of the crime and be an ancillary after the fact; or they may interfere with an investigation, or they may lie to law enforcement. [When a person omits to disclose pertinent facts which are known or easily available to a person, individual or corporation, that is lying and may be a crime.] These omissions may arise in a number of circumstances: After a police shooting when the cops circle the wagons against investigators; when someone with foreign help (government or organization) commits a crime within this country; when an American kills another American and interposes an electronic privacy agreement.

Most Americans know what privacy is: home, family, talking. Benjamin Franklin warned (paraphrased) The only way a secret can be kept among three persons is for two of them to die. If something needs to be private don’t tell anyone. However, relying on agreements prepared by third parties which may not be executed, or is changed or violated at the whim of the drafting party, means there is no privacy at all.

IDIOTS, Jr.

Now that Pres Don has gotten rid of competent, intelligent white guys, individuals who have done something with life and prospered, unlike himself, he’s going for the retreads of the second string.

Larry Kudlow, new Director of the National Economic Council, is of CNBC fame where Don had his TV show. Larry wasn’t as big a person as Don; he’ll never be exposed to the elements on the Hollywood Walk of Fame i.e. the homeless. Both Larry and Don believe the homeless are using the tax cuts to bilk millions from the government from favorable programs handing out dough. How else, could the homeless live in such an exclusive neighborhood?

These attributes fit Larry’s behavior when giving advice on TV: Angry rich man complaining the United States government taxes him to give money to the poor. He sounds like and is as current as George Bush proposing economic prosperity, the lift of a driving dream. WRONG POLICIES! Larry’s a very retro guy: Let’s Make America Great Again Like It Was During The 1920s. That decade finished well, didn’t it?

John Bolton, new National Security Advisor, looks like a walrus, with a white lip. Give him a uniform, narrow his mustache and he looks like someone else. He also sounds like that person: Adamant, right and righteous, hard, and opinionated based upon faith and fibs.

Both men have had stints in government, and no one in government hired either of them later for any position of responsibility. But each stuck around getting whatever exposure was available – CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and mail solicitations. Bolton had a petty foundation he was the face card for, and once a month, bi-weekly and sometimes weekly envelopes arrived with cant writings inside expounding political and social positions edging toward totalitarianism. The only benefit a right minded, red blooded American got from Bolton was observing in the photographs that Bolton was getting gray. (Kudlow is mostly bald.)

The big advantage that Don Trump has over Bolton and Kudlow – they are lower on the food chain. Neither has Don Trump’s girth, 400 pounds of flab. Each is relatively trim ready to wear second-hand, empty suits. They are names, sometimes recognizable, unrespected, timeless and each has fallen into Don’s event horizon. The best that can be said about each man: When Don fires them, no one will know they are gone.

CHARACTER: Crime Four

Last year I presented three lists describing crimes and criminal activities, derived from TV crime shows. Issues in this article arise from a crime show: Woman has wonderlust. She moves from place to place but no stop is perfect and satisfies her. She needs satisfaction not contentment or acceptability. She continues to look for the perfect location with perfect people. She meets different and more people. There are chemistry and magic someplace.

A person seeking something from the environment or from society has a tough row to hoe. Everything is life predicated on experience: Wise men learn by others’ harms; fools by their own. Or, Experience keeps a dear school, yet Fools will learn in no other. Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack. Our person relies on impulse, instinct and intuition, freely for the way forward but frequently is hurt or offended if someone is rude, questioning or dismissive. Yet ask whether our person is capable of love, or recognizes love apart from fondness, affection and attention.

Our person from the show was murdered in the same manner her mother was 25 years before. Picked up in a bar, taken into a forest, assaulted and killed. The murderers were easily caught. However, our person did not learn from experience, and there appeared no memory to let our person ponder, reflect or consider. This was a sorry, pathetic, weak and uneducated human being. What may be worse, our person may be lying to herself about herself.

How to breach the cycle relying in impulse, instinct and intuition? One ay, put something of substance into the person’s head. If she loves nature, educate her about forest lore, not the tripe James Fenimore Cooper recited but real things from education to survival skills. That education will change activities, the life, behavior, goals and aspirations.

EMPIRE OF LIBERTY

By Gordon Wood

The chapters and passages in Empire of Liberty about unpolitical, business affairs, social events and participating individuals are the strongest: Education, the arts, society, sociologies and cultural anthropologies of business, and the general thinking of Americans and their temper and mood. On that score the book is invaluable.

Exposition about the government, politics and the men is flawed. I observe in one Amazon criticism, the commentator states the book is episodic. To describe business and social activities, arrangements and the men by episode can make an accurate presentation. The actions and the individuals are usually isolated from one another.

Telling of national politics and the men in episodes tells nothing, no story and little about the men and the issues that were changing. This approach weakens Empire. These men – Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington and others – knew one another well. They acted and reacted, playing games against strengths and weaknesses of the others. Madison excelled at the game playing. He set things up, stepped back and watched.

He may have been the Father of the Constitution, and the Father of American Politics and the Father of the Bill of Rights, but for eight years 1815-1823, there was little or no political opposition in the United States. That was Madison.

All historians, political scientists and others rely on Madison’s Notes of the Constitutional Convention, 1787. Yet in 1789 and after when Madison was in Congress guiding Revenue Bills though, establishing Cabinet offices, advancing the Bill of Rights, setting the Capital site, working on the debt, Empire inaccurately describes the proceedings and a culminating result in the Grand Compromise of 1790. No one believes or relies on Madison. Empire is remiss in this omission.

Consider corporations [Charters of Incorporation], an issue of 1791. The American colonial experience was the king’s granting charters, thereby setting up monopolies. The East India Company of Tea Party fame was one such entity. Americans disfavored corporations. When Madison proposed during the Constitutional Convention to give Congress the power to grant charters(1787), it was rejected.

Empire presents the impression that charters of incorporation were well know and working in America. Its view is anachronistic, using law and facts of the 1880s. Two excellent attorneys/justices of the early Republic, James Wilson and John Marshall, dismissed the business form in the 1790s. A real go at incorporation was made by John Jacob Astor in 1807; it does not resemble anything presented in Empire. (See David Lavender, Fist In The Wilderness) [Note Abraham Lincoln studying law in Illinois during the 1830s found the corporate form new and interesting,
(David Herbert Donald, Lincoln)]

Note in Empire the text relies on the Dartmouth case (1819), 30 years after the first Congress. Chief Justice Marshall wrote the opinion but did not discuss the power to incorporate, or who had it. He interpreted the law, documents and contracts, and the Constitution.

Other errors in Empire suggest the author did not research and write the text, or he was exceedingly careless.
Page 446. George Mason, according to Madison’s Notes of the Constitutional Convention, 1787, said almost nothing during debates. He did not favor the Council of Revision; James Wilson and James Madison vociferously supported this issue and suffered repeated defeats. George Mason wanted a Council of the Executive like the one existing in Virginia, to control the Governor. Mason had written the Virginia Constitution. At the national level such a Council would control the President.
After William Haller’s books about Puritanism, no historian should ever call anyone in New England a Calvinist, a European term. In Empire the text does. However, the text reveals Presbyterians and Independents (Cromwell’s sect) in the Dartmouth case. (Pilgrims were separatists.) Almost everyone else in the settling of New England was an Independent, to become known in the eighteenth century as Congregationalists.
Misquotes misrepresent Jefferson and Madison’s opinions of the Constitution. Empire uses early quotes. Both men evolved in their thinking, leaving earlier opinions, like Hamilton’s statements, historical additives and eccentricities. Indeed both Jefferson and Madison were willing to use precedent to sidestep Constitutional rigors. During the legislation and ratification of the Louisiana Purchase (1803), Rufus King wondered how they could change governmental power defined by the Constitution by using the Treaty Power. Jefferson and Madison merely used the same processes employed by the Federalists when they passed the Jay Treaty(1796). The same procedures were used at the end of the Mexican-American war (1848).
John Taylor of Caroline County (Virginia) is misrepresented. He is hardly the philosopher of the Republican Party. He had a father figure who lived close by, Edmund Pendleton, perhaps the best judge of the eighteenth century English world. Pendleton was known, respected and loved by everyone – Henry, Washington, Jefferson, Marshall. He was a confident of Madison’s. How prominent was Pendleton, other than being on Virginia’s highest court? In 1765 after it was discovered that John Robinson, Speaker of the House of Burgesses, had embezzled public funds, mostly giving the money to prominent Virginians, Pendleton undertook the task of getting the money back. By 1803 the job was not complete; he died. He left the work to John Marshall. In 1798 Pendleton published in newspapers a letter critical of President Adams, his administration and the Federalists. No one came down the lane to arrest Pendleton for violation of the Sedition Act. This is all to say that at best, John Taylor was a puppet for the men (Pendleton and Madison) pulling the strings in the backroom.
It is anachronistic as Empire does to view “null and void” as Southerners did in 1830-1865. Jefferson’s draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, originally intended for North Carolina, was greatly changed by Wilson Cary Nicholas and the Kentucky Legislature. Jefferson proposed Committees of Correspondence in each state to communicate and to react to the Alien and Sedition Acts. (1798) What did Jefferson mean by “null and void?” He likely relied on the same definition used by that infamous radical/revolutionary, James Otis of Massachusetts (1764): “As the Acts of Parliament, An Act against the Constitution is void: An Act against natural Equity, it should be void; and if the Act of Parliament be made, in the very words of the Petition, it should be void.” The word, null, has no legal impact without its mate void.
P. 184. Empire praises Hamilton’s Pacificus essays, but they are difficult to defend. Facts deleted from Empire manifest Madison’s response (Helvidius Essays) destroyed Hamilton’s essays by citing The Federalist Papers, written by Hamilton, against assertions Pacificus.

Other issues of error and misrepresentation appear in Empire. One chapter is a mundane discussion of points of Judicial Review, a power given the Courts by the sovereign. In the 1780s Massachusetts abolished slavery within the state by Judicial Review (opinion and judgment). In Virginia the Court of Blair, Wythe, and Pendleton accepted the power; it was taught in law courses. John Marshall grew up knowing it, read the Constitution and participated in the Virginia Convention (1788). He further discussed all legal issues with Madison and Pendleton and others and was influenced long before the opinions of Marbury vs. Madison and other cases.

Err in Empire of Liberty distorts the politics and the economics, and a complete view of the 1789-1815 period; each wrong has not been set forth. In Empire men of the Early Republic are unknown to one another. Legislation and proposals are isolated and presented as surprises, oddities and ineffective efforts to accomplish their purposes. No man was correct all the time, but the sense that Hamilton is correct, is wrong. e.g. He was instrumental in his party’s loss in the election of 1800, once again those facts being omitted from Empire.

DIARIES OF VICTOR KLEMPERER

The Lesser Evil, 1945-1959

The secondary title supposedly refers to the comparison of Nazism to Communism. The author’s well-known, excellent World War Two diaries set in Dresden where he was living are compelling and dramatic. Therein, Klemperer is less an academic and less intellectual and more human and communicative.

This single volume of his last 14 years of life seem academic with pretense to intellectualism. He is a professor but not set to one location. The writing is onerous and much less clear; he seems confused and conflicted as a diarist. Why did the Chicken cross the road? Should I also cross the road? Will the chicken be there if I cross the road after it does? is If the chicken becomes road kill should I consume the remainder?

Much was goofed up in Germany after World War Two. The Americans Army fed itself well. It organized much in its sector using non-Nazi Germans and German Jews. But Klemperer has few good impressions to report about the Soviets, except they are not Nazis.

I read until I got to one repeated point: Social pressures to join this organization or another group to support the establishment seemed like high school. Klemperer reacts and joins, if he can go 10 or 20 miles, to meetings. Be part of the influential class, the in-group and popular and be comfortable. Early on he isn’t at ease; his diet is monotonous; it’s hard to visit friends, if they can be found; there is no work for him, although he is recognized as an authority in his field.

I did not need to read another 500 pages of this East German Storm and Trag, not well-expressed and always relying on some remote big-wig’s good will who might drive Klemperer to an event one evening yet by the next week be arrested to put into prison.

VICTORIAN GHOST STORIES

Editors, Cox & Gilbert

The Introduction of this book is the most entertaining section. The authors swoon about Victorian writers putting together hundreds of Ghost Stories. In Victorian England Christmas was a good time for ghost stories, an expectation Charles Dickens capitalized on with A Christmas Carole. The authors say there were strict formats that demanded quality writing. However, a reader’s experience differs. Some stories are chronological. Hence, write about one character, repeat the same traits and activities about the next. But for the activities of the third character, the author uses, “Meanwhile, this or that…” The thread of the story is lost, and the reader can guess which character – one, two or three – has or deserves the floor.

I stopped reading in A. Y. Akerman, The Miniature, when I stumbled into the following paragraph:

‘At the breakfast table I was moody and thoughtful, which my friend perceiving,
attempted a joke; but I was in no humour to receive it, when Maria, in a
compassionating tone, remarked I looked unwell, and that I should take a walk
or a ride before breakfast, adding that she and George S— had walked for an hour
or more in the plantation near the house. Though this announcement was certainly
but ill calculated to ease my mind, it was yet made with such an artless air, that my
more gloomy surmises vanished; and I rallied;…’

Being in a disagreeable mood at the breakfast table without humor and appearing unwell, one might disregard comments, but to reveal anything about all the persons at the table, tell what the joke was. Perhaps friends looking sickly in Victorian England were invited to walk or ride interrupting breakfast and avoiding whatever substance they could consume. Go outdoors and get pneumonia!

However, the character has no mind of his own. He thought of none of those remedies. Note this character appears whimsical and supercilious with no will or fortitude of his own:

Through his announcement was certainly but ill calculated to afford perfect ease
to my mind, it was yet made with such an artless air, that my more gloomy
surmises vanished, and I rallied;…

As far as the reader can tell, the author of the suggestion came to the table with hand fulls of uppers and passed them around. This character popped a couple and was set for the morning. Suspending disbelief which this paragraph requires, all readers can see it is variable and nonsense: Note, the character describes himself as “moody and thoughtful;” it becomes “unwell” and next in the character’s mind he is “gloomy.” Why does the author of this piece drop in adverbs, “but ill calculated” and “yet made.”

This is not acceptable writing in middle school. Writing must make sense – communicate clearly – to be good, solid and worthy.