Not quite the beginning…

As the story goes, Edward Gibbon, the 18th-century historian and man of letters, got the idea of writing a history of the end of the Roman Empire while sitting on one of Rome’s fabled seven hills gazing out over its ancient ruins.

As is perhaps fitting, I conceived the far more pedestrian undertaking that this blog will relate (and in fact be part of) under much more prosaic circumstances: Watching Nora Ephron’s film “Julie and Julia” with my wife Eleni.  The film tells the (true) story of a young woman who sets out to cook, over the course of a year, every dish in Julia Child’s landmark cookbook “The Art of French Cooking”, while blogging about it.  She attains fame, fulfillment, a better sense of self, and probably a better sex life and shinier, more lustrous hair.  You get the idea.

Having had an 8-volume unabridged copy of Gibbon’s magnum opus sitting on my bookshelf for several years, something in my mind “clicked” while watching the movie, and I remarked to Eleni afterward “maybe I should read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall all the way through and blog about it.”

It occurs to me that I’m probably only the 10,000th person to get the idea of blogging from watching that movie.  Blogs like this one may be the micro-publishing equivalent of the thousands of chihuahuas purchased in California as “fashion accessories” in recent years in imitation of Paris Hilton.  Or failing that, perhaps I’ll lack the stamina that Julie had and flake out at the first (or fortieth) difficult chapter.  Maybe I’ll get through the whole thing and not write a bloody word worth reading, or who knows?  Maybe I’ll get all the way through and this blog will be brilliant, witty, relevant…and unread.

I don’t plan to begin right away.  I am working my way through a backlog of partially-read books (I have a bad habit of starting one book before finishing another-foreshadowing of danger!) so it will likely be a month or two before I get going.  I plan on using David Womersley’s edition, which (from my limited reading) seems to be the one that is considered most complete and up-to-date in terms of footnotes, bibliographic information, etc.

That’s all for now.  I realize I’ve written nothing about what I hope to gain by doing this; I’ll try to cover that in a later post, but briefly, since I am hoping this blog will be more about the book than me.

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