HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

February 25, 2008
From the Editor

John Turner


I am now back in Vermont after my trip to Florida. When I got here, I found snow stacked up so high, I had to climb up above my porch in order to scramble down to it. The person who stayed in the house while we were away and provided companionship to our cat is not much of a shoveler, I guess. And I don't blame him. Still, once I hauled our bags up over the snow mountain and got inside, all was well. And I was glad to be home.

I have made the leap, or bit the bullet, or screwed my courage to the sticking point, or whatever metaphor you might supply, and as a result ordered a Kindle from Amazon. This means simply that I am now in line, because Amazon doesn't have a sufficient supply of Kindles to ship me one right away. As far as I can tell, the shipping date will be some four to five weeks in the future, although Amazon itself has not been that specific about when I might get it. They say merely that they will let me know -- sometime. And when I get it -- sometime -- I will let you know how it is.

I watched the last installment of Pride and Prejudice on PBS last night, and after I did, dragged out a copy of the novel and read pertinent passages. I was happy to find that the filmmakers used even more of Jane Austen's exact dialogue than I had thought. They were, however, a bit manipulative in choosing certain sentences from letters and leaving out others so as to heighten Lizzy's suspense about Mr. Darcy's intentions. Still, it was a good production and I enjoyed seeing it again. I even began to warm up -- a bit -- to Colin Firth.

Tonight, I go to the Williston Library to talk about James W. Trent, Jr.'s Inventing the Feeble Mind: A History of Mental Retardation in America. It's a doleful story and it leaves me wondering whether I should be more interested in the actual conditions faced by persons of limited intellect or in the methods used to talk about them and the terminology applied to them. The latter is actually the more dramatic, and discouraging, theme. Perhaps next week I'll remember to tell you how the conversation went. If any of you have read the book, write and tell me what you thought of it.


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