As I have often had occasion to report on this blog, my big sister Barbara [Dr. Barbara Searle, Ombud of the World Bank, retired] is my inexhaustible source for splendid reading suggestions. The range of her reading is extraordinary, extending as it does beyond microbiology and evolutionary theory to literature, history, and much else besides. Her response to my brief post about the collection of essays on the Great Library at Alexandria was to tell me about her latest find, The Ark Before Noah by Irving Finkel, an expert on Sumerian cuneiform at the British Museum in London. To my surprise and delight, Shakespeare & Co. had two copies, one of which I bought this afternoon before taking Susie to The Tea Caddy nearby for a bite to eat. In time I shall report on the book more fully, but after reading just the first fifteen pages, I can say that it is the most charming scholarly book I have encountered in a very long time. Finkel's style [and appearance] remind me of Israel Sacks, with whom I am sure many of you are familiar.
These are difficult times for those of us on the left, and I think it is not shameful for us to escape from time to time into the life of the mind. There will be much to say after I have finished all 387 pages of Finkel's book, but [spoiler alert] it seems the original specifications for the Ark, from which the biblical account derives, called for a round boat. One can but wonder about the filiations with the legend of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.