Writers, glass, Pliny the Elder, and family stories
March 12, 2015 11:17 PM Subscribe
Daniel Torday: A Writer in the Family
Are divisions of history arbitrary? Is it true they never coincide with eras of “artistic achievement”? What gets me on this first page of Glass in Antiquity isn’t so much the single-mindedness of that claim. It’s the one-sentence paragraph that follows: “For this reason it has been impossible not to overstep the bounds suggested by the title of this book.” It is not a question being asked. It’s an answer, and one of intention: There are moments, dear reader, in this book about ancient glass called Glass in Antiquity in which you’ll find … glass that’s not ancient.
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Yes? Rarely? Why is this hard? I'm not really sure why Torday sees such an ordinary, bog-standard introductory statement about the problems of periodization — the kind of thing you might find in the introduction to any serious work of art history or cultural history with a broad scope — as such a remarkable thing. It seems like maybe he doesn't spend that much time reading or thinking about history, so he sees Neuburg being a historian (of a certain kind and era) and takes it as much more a matter of individual personality than it really is.
posted by RogerB at 9:04 AM on March 13, 2015