Society & Culture

In Praise of Cultural Appropriation

Recently I read of a 67-year-old woman who wanted to run in a marathon.  She had never run for exercise in her life, but her desire and passion led her to put on a pair of sneakers, leave the house, and walk a mile.  Every day she walked through her neighborhood, extending the distance a little each time.  Soon she was jogging and walking.  In another six months, she was running.  In the next seven years, she competed in several marathons and other long-distance races.

One step at a time, and sooner or later you can run a marathon.  One page at a time, and sooner or later you can read Will and Ariel Durant’s 11-volume The Story of Civilization.

For more than a quarter of a century, a set of the Durant histories has decorated my bookshelves.  I say “decorated” because I so rarely open them.  They served as an infrequent source of reference during my teaching days, and on rare occasions a few minutes spent with Caesar and Christ or The Age of Voltaire have provided diversion and entertainment.

On New Year’s Day, for a variety of reasons, not excluding the possibility of temporary insanity, I set myself a goal: I would read my way through the Durants in one year.  Having declared this intention to friends and family, I felt like a novice climber contemplating Everest.  Could...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here