Saturday, October 27, 2007

Currently Reading Meme

This photo shows General Robert E. Lee shortly after the surrender at Appomattox Court House. Photo by Mathew Brody.

This is another one from Caroline at Food for Thought. Here's the rules:
Open the book you’re currently reading to page 161, and post the fifth sentence on the page, then think of 5 bloggers to tag.

Here's my sentence: "They were forced to watch until their turn came." It's from "April 1865: The Month That Saved America" by Jay Winik.

You can tell it's about something unpleasant; in fact, something horrific--war. The sentence refers to the suffering of Union soldiers at the barbaric guerilla warfare conducted throughout the Civil War by a Missouri rebel named Quantrille and his band.

I don't usually read history, but I have been riveted by this book, which the librettist for Philip Glass' new opera, Appomattox, mentioned as one of his sources of inspiration, among others. So I went out to get it at the library. I am extremely ignorant about Civil War history--I must have been asleep in class for days when we studied it--and wanted to get some context for the opera.

(The opera is about the surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomattox Court House, with some flash-forwards to incidents in African-Americans' long struggle for civil rights. I was lucky enough to see it a week ago during its premiere run here in San Francisco. It was wonderful! Philip Glass wove his own pulsing, hypnotic rhythms and melodies with Civil War era ballads and soldier songs, a few of which he wrote himself. And the libretto! Christopher Hampton used nearly all original words spoken or written at the time. I was completely engrossed from the opening note to the last. You can get a glimpse of the opera at San Francisco Opera's website.)

Here is a more momentous quote from the book--actually a letter, from Lee to Grant, responding to Grant's first overture to Lee regarding a surrender. This letter is sung in its entirety in the opera:

I have recd your note of this date. Though not entertaining the opinon you express of the hopelessness of further resistance of the Army of N. Va.--I reciprocate your desire to avoid the useless effusion of blood, & therefore before considering your proposition, ask the terms you will offer on the condition of its surrender.
Very respy your obt. servt
R.E. Lee, Genl"

I'm not tagging anyone in particular. If you play, leave me a comment so I can see what you're reading.

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