Captivity by György Spiró (a glorious first read of the year, although I am not yet finished)

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Behold Captivity, a novel of a mere 832 pages, each one riveting me to the story of Uri and his companions who are on a mission traveling from Jerusalem to Rome. Do not imagine that Uri is a sturdy traveler, nor that his companions are his friends. He has been selected for reasons he knows not why, other than that his father has loaned a tremendous sum to Agrippa, and it seems being a part of the delegation is the outcome of such a favor. But Uri is mistrusted, his bags are consistently searched, and he is spied upon during every leg of their journey.

Indeed Uri seems an unlikely candidate for such a trip. When they began his ankles were not strong, his belly carried a paunch, his head was balding, his chin was doubled, but worse than any of that is the fact that he cannot see well. His eyesight requires tremendous squinting to see any distance from afar, and Uri had developed a board through which to peer when he was at home in Rome.

But poor eyesight did not hinder him from reading, or from learning languages. Rather Uri can speak Greek, Latin, Egyptian, Hebrew and Aramaic. His favorite passion is reading.

“I also need peace,” he said hoarsely, “to read, because for me nothing else is of interest. I can recite to you the whole of Greek and Latin literature by heart. No one is using me to pass messages to anyone: I swear by Everlasting God who is One that this is the truth.”

Studded throughout the pages of this novel are characters who are already familiar to me from reading through the Bible:

    • Pilate
    • Herod Antipas
    • John the Baptist
    • Simon the Magus
    • the Sanhedrin
    • the high priests such as Caiaphas

I am hopeful that reading this prize-winning historical novel will further enhance my understanding of Biblical times. In and of itself, however, it is a fabulous read. Even if it will take me a few more weeks to finish. (I plan on posting a final review at the end of January.)

The Reason I Read International Literature is Bigger than Literature

Hundreds of thousands of people gather on the Place de la Republique to attend the solidarity march (Rassemblement Republicain) in the streets of Paris

I write this post with a roiling stomach, one which has been roiling since yesterday. Sunday, January 11, 2015. The day of the march in Paris against terrorism and a loss of freedom.

Many weeks ago, one of my dearest friends asked, “Why do you read so much translated literature?” and before I could properly formulate a complete thought, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “Because I don’t feel American.”

I did, once upon a time. When I was a child, and John F. Kennedy was President, it seemed America could do anything. Be the first in space? Sure. Resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis? Sure. Be a compassionate leader in strength and integrity? That is what I felt it meant to be an American.

Today, I am ashamed that our President could not bring himself to Paris. We were essentially unrepresented in a significant world issue, and to me there is no excuse.

World Leaders

I will always be from the land of the free and the home of the brave. I will always value the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedoms that my son as a U.S. Marine has vowed to protect. But, I will also link arms with my fellow world citizens, who fight for the right to live a life without fear. A right to live without a terrorist domination. Because “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

I can link arms with the world when I read the literature which it produces. The points of view may differ from mine, but together I become whole. The literature of the world can make us a group which understands and affirms one another, a group who will stand together against evil.