Roundtable

The Rest Is History

Revolutionary reenacting, literary touring, and historic zookeeping.

By Angela Serratore

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Revolutionary War reenactment, 2013.

• The wild animals of the tower of London: “By most accounts, the tower’s menagerie began roughly in 1204, during the reign of King John. His was not the first of its kind in England—his predecessor, Henry I, had kept lynxes and leopards in Woodstock. In fact, from at least as far back as the eighth century, menageries were all the rage among Europe’s elite, adjoined to stately courts as private sites of spectacle and amusement. There was Emperor Charlemagne, King of the Franks, whose three menageries brimmed with tokens of diplomatic benevolence: falcons and monkeys, lions and camels, a Numidian bear, and an Asian elephant delivered straight from the caliph of Baghdad.” (Paris Review Daily)

• Jean-Paul Sartre: was he really so special? (New Statesman)

• Touring the Russia of great novelists: “[Dostoevsky] moved there after his literary success so that he could have a study as well as rooms for his family. He kept his desk in strict order, working from 11 at night to 4 or 5 in the morning. Tea was always kept hot in the samovar, and he thought only he could make it right. When he drank tea made by his wife, he would say, ‘Oh, how wretched I am.’ He died on the couch, gazing at the Bible given to him by the wives of the Decembrists who had been imprisoned with him.” (New York Times)

• The early years of psychoanalysis as experienced by Emma Jung. (The Spectator)

• Shopping for the Revolutionary War: “Once, Revolutionary War re-enactors might have altered modern canvas painter's pants into a simulacrum of 18th-century trousers and served spaghetti and meatballs at their camps. Today, more re-enactors than ever put a premium on having pants hand-made from material with a historically accurate thread-count and cooking food that soldiers would have actually eaten, sometimes even made from the recipes they would have used.” (Atlas Obscura)

• Getting to know Carla Hayden, the new Librarian of Congress. (New Yorker Page Turner)