This year's Massey Lecture text begins with passion and grandiose declarations. "I have had a lifelong obsession with blood, and I'm not the only one. As both substance and symbol, blood reveals us, divides us, and unites us. We care about blood, because it spills literally and figuratively into every
The final window opens with talk of ice wine, the paradox that "the hardest weather makes the nicest wine". And then I learn a botanical term, vernalization, which refers to "seeds that can only thrive in spring if they have been through the severity of winter". But how
Adam Gopnik's notes for this lecture/chapter read like this: "Chance to talk at length about ice hockey." If the idea doesn't thrill you, don't let it put you off the book entirely. The rest of that page and the next is about the Russian troika "racing through the snowy wastes".
Adam Gopnik's third lecture considers the making of the modern Christmas, winter's holiday. He describes it as a "profoundly compound festival" and discusses its origins. It marries "not just many different pagan holidays but also the two chief kinds of festivals that exist in the world: the reversal festival and
Adam Gopnik begins his second lecture on winter (first, here) by asking whether we remember that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein plays out in the northern, Arctic reaches. I didn't remember that: did you? Nonetheless, I don't have any trouble conjuring up the images that he describes in opening his