Twelve Against the Gods

Twelve Against the Gods

William Bolitho

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: B0007DSQ56

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

my scan at 300 dpi, OCR'd, frist edition 1929, this edition of 1939, no ISBN

This book is intended to elucidate history somewhat, more to illustrate it, to honor without hypocrisy the deeds of men and women whose destiny was larger, if not deeper than our own. Above all to shake loose the perception of the adventurer in us and of us in the adventurer. Included are sketches on the following: Alexander the Great; Casanova; Christopher Columbus; Mahomet; Lola Montez; Cagliostro, and Seraphina; Charles XII of Sweden; Napoleon I; Lucius Sergius Catiline; Napoleon III; Isadora Duncan; and Woodrow Wilson.



















be agreeable, rather boisterous company. When he spoke he turned his whole body and not only his head; when he laughed, which was not seldom, he opened his huge mouth, like a crocodile, so that his gums and all his teeth were visible, and his eyes disappeared. These were piercing but bloodshot; he used to paint his eyelashes with kohl and antimony to make them appear more lustrous. He dyed his beard, some say red, some yellow, and was fond of loudly-coloured linen clothes, though he abhorred

thoughts. The will is predisposed to asceticism. It finds there its convenient exercise, and therefore all religions that appeal to the will, and especially this hero worship, must, to be attractive, prescribe mortifications, and build the system on them. The priest of Alexanderism, this Curtius, having operated Charles' conversion, obviously by appeal to his vanity (for this was his only gate in a mist-coloured vision of Fame), that is, everlasting publicity, set him the task of being mythically

in which he showed every quality but invention and good taste. This Czar, who left his throne to become a ship's carpenter at Deptford, found time in the midst of a very sincere application to his work to have himself wheeled every morning in a barrow to and fro along the top of Evelyn the diarist's fivefeet-thick holly hedges, the pride of England; until he had irremediably ruined them. This was he who later built his people a new capital, in a marsh, in whose making more workmen were killed by

before in all these heroes; at every turn of the impossible road is waiting an impossible good, unearned; a present. Charles had conquered an invincible enemy with a mediocre, unconvinced army. He now possessed, suddenly, an incomparable company of demi-gods. His Swedes were henceforward as incredible as himself, out of a book. Every nation has a legend of invincibility about its soldiers at some point in its history, but to me, the archers of Crecy, or the Old Guard, or any of all the others who

much book behaviour in Napoleon as in Charles. He said himself, "I am the Revolution," and the core of the French Revolution was so literary, that it sometimes looks like a plagiarism, rather than an original event. All its actors were book-conscious. They lived autobiographies, and when they were executed they were all careful to have a balanced phrase, ready composed, like a Greek epitaph-often imitated.from one. They took their feelings from Jean-Jacques, their motives from Voltaire, their

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