Tuesday, March 24, 2020

From Library of America Comes "A Reading List for 'the most deadly pandemic in human history'"


I realize that not everyone wants to be reading about pandemics from the past right now - and for good reason. Instead, some of us (perhaps, most of us) are looking for ways to escape the subject, BUT if you are one that wonders how the world managed to get through this kind of thing last century, Library of America (my absolute favorite publisher of all time) has prepared a reading list just for you:

A reading list for "the most deadly pandemic in human history"

What makes this all so particularly intriguing is LOA's emphasis on how the Spanish flue pandemic of 1918-1919 with its 675,000 American victims "became a formative experience for a generation of American writers."

Here's just a taste of the LOA blog article:
Mary McCarthy was orphaned after both her parents succumbed, which led to the unhappy childhood she recounted in Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood. Thomas Wolfe never got over the loss of his brother Ben; barely fictionalized, Ben’s death is a key episode in Wolfe’s debut, Look Homeward, Angel (1929). A section of Wallace Stegner’s autobiographical 1943 novel The Big Rock Candy Mountain depicts the flu’s ravages among homesteaders in the American Northwest and across the border in Canada. William Carlos Williams, working as a family doctor in New Jersey, reported making up to sixty calls a day; he later wrote, “we hadn’t a thing that was effective in checking that potent poison that was sweeping the world.”
For a compelling list of works and authors associated with the Spanish Flu outbreak, please click on the link up above. 




6 comments:

  1. I read a book about the Spanish Flu last year called Pale Rider that was really good. It's crazy how many people died from that one.

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    1. I don't know that one. I own over 100 of the LOA books, so I'm going to see if I have anything on this list already on my shelves. I may be strange, but I think reading about the Spanish Flu pandemic might actually give me some hope about this one.

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  2. I actually love reading about pandemics. I don't know why - I just find them so fascinating! I'm sure there's tons we can learn about coping with the coronavirus from those who dealt with the Spanish flu. I'm definitely going to check out this list.

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    1. I'm the same way. I suppose this ties in to my love of dystopian fiction, so it all kind of makes sense.

      I just checked the list and see that I do have two of the LOA collections on my shelves that include Catherine Anne Porter's "Pale Horse, Pale Rider" and Willa Cather's "One of Ours." I've read neither of these despite having dipped in and out of both collections, so I can look forward to reading them soon (I hope).

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  3. Your excerpt is fascinating. Will have to get over and check the blog article!

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    1. I've chosen a couple from the list as mentioned above, Jenclair. The similarities between 1918 and 2020 are a bit disturbing, to say the least. All the doubters out there who can't shut up about what they see as an overreaction really disturb me. It's little wonder that thousands die unnecessarily when you watch the deniers in action.

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