“Lev Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana”, 1908, the first color photo portrait in Russia Français : « Léon Tolstoï à Iasnaïa Poliana », 1908, le premier portrait photographique en couleur en Russie. Suomi: “Leo Tolstoi Jasnaja Poljanassa”, 1908. Ensimmäinen Venäjällä otettu värimuotokuva. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch. She lost her older sister to a fast-growing cancer that struck unexpectedly in middle age. She and her sister were very close and shared a love of reading. Nina had difficulty accepting that she was alive while her sister was dead. After two to three years of difficulty accepting the loss, she decided to devote one year to reading a book a day and writing a review of it to be posted online. She selected books of approximately 300 pages that she could complete reading in four hours and she allotted two hours for the writing of the review. I love to read, but I am a slower reader than she and now I lack the stamina and discipline to read one book per day. I read many books at the same time, and I enjoy jumping from one to another as the mood takes me.
After one year, she returned to a slower pace of reading, but with a greater acceptance of the loss of her sister. The purple chair of the title was her reading chair.
Our Congressmen and -women should be required to wear attire adorned with NASCAR-like patches that show who are their sponsors, the largest campaign contributors. Then we would have instant truth-in-leading, similar to truth-in-lending. Some of those patches would be treated like Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, a large red “A”, a badge of shame. The problem now is that some of our elected officials show no shame whatsoever. And since NASCAR tests its participants for substance abuse, I would be in favor of random drug tests for our elected officials.
Horatio Alger, Jr. lived from 1832 to 1899. In 1864 he began writing a series of books for boys that extolled virtuous living and hard work. If a young boy was truthful, honest, faithful and modest, he would surely succeed. Alger wrote nearly 100 books for boys which were popular until the 1920s. The books exemplified the American work ethic; hard work is rewarded while idleness is punished. The idle rich would lose their wealth, while a legacy from a distant relative would reward the industrious.
The Horatio Alger story lives on in American mythology. Unfortunately, it is no longer true, if it ever was. In today’s America, the wealthy retain their wealth in idleness or not, and legacies frequently go to those who are already rich. Education, the great American equalizer, is being priced out of reach for many. Hard work may be rewarded or it may not. We still believe that virtue is rewarded, but that is less true today than in times past. There are fewer pathways out of poverty than Horatio Alger stories led many to believe.