Thursday, January 28, 2010

Essay: "Eight Days--From an Almanac for Moderns."

Donald Culross Peattie.

One-minute review: A meditation on living things and the wonder of life, from bacteria to people. Compares the simple bacterium to an inanimate object like a carbon atom: “The gulf between a bacterium and a carbon atom, even with all the latter’s complexity, is greater than that between bacteria and men.” This essay causes readers to look more carefully at the life around them.


“…when mankind has quite thoroughly shattered and eaten and debauched himself with his own follies, that voice [of the croaking frog] may still be ringing out in the marshes….”

“No picture of life today is ever worth a glance that does not show the bacteria as the foundation of life itself, the broad base of the pyramid on which all the rest is erected.”

“As the fire glances from the burning log around the room it falls upon the faces of the people seated round the hearth with you What do you really know of them, your own children, and the wife who bore them to you? All are locked mysteriously away in their individuality.”

“…in the end the most absolute answers concerning every problem of matter, energy, time and life, will be found to be philosophical.”

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc. 1960.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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