Posted By DMB

Today Debbie sold a collection of the works of Marie Corelli which I’ve been building for forty years vindicating another of my theories and helping some with the business transition we are in the middle of. Marie Corelli, the most famous writer of her period (even though you never read her) and one of the weirdest literary personalities in all literature, will get a bookish essay soon. Deb had been negotiating with an institution for a year (the usual reasons, not interest or passion, but money). She and the librarian she dealt with ought to be proud and very pleased with themselves. The book world and its followers still go on.

And to finish Canada lost one of its great hockey legends, Gordie Howe, a man who inspired several generations of young hockey players and seems to have also been a lovely man.

But for me, more important than all the rest of my triumphant personal happenings we watched them bury a truly great man last week. Muhammad Ali was a true hero in the classical sense. He superseded greatly all his component parts. When we are very close to an event or great person we can miss how they will appear in a hundred or two hundred years. But booksellers have much practice. His true moral greatness for me lies in the events of the sixties. Here is a man who had everything: fame, beauty, celebrity, plus being the most exciting heavyweight boxer seen in living memory. He had adulation, wealth, everything. This man had everything our society considers the most important things in life. And he threw it all away on a matter of moral principle. He refused to do what his conscience told him he mustn’t do. He could have slipped out of draft status in a hundred different and easy ways. He could have gone and made himself a public soldier-patriot as Presley did, while he spent a pleasant couple of years. But he wouldn’t go along. He not only refused, he lost everything he’d already earned, he defied then further. He threw away everything. I would urge school teachers to have their students google back to the newspapers of the time to demonstrate what it really cost him. He said no, he wouldn’t play. He wouldn’t bend. Such men (and women) are the ones who change the world. The journalists, especially the sports journalists of the time crucified him.

Our young have been shown a true hero. And for me, on a great personal day, I found that event the greatest.

"Of course real readers read for excitement."
​Michael Dirda.


These blogs will not continue as long – I simply couldn’t help it.

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