Mugging up on Moses Finley
I'm suffering right now from a nasty case of "too much to do" syndrome. I'm sure your know it well (just swap your own particular obligations for mine).
At the top of the list are five new conference/public lectures to be written by the end of June. In no particular order: 2 lectures on different aspects of the Olympic Games (one ancient, one modern); a lecture on some aspect of Roman inscriptions in the nineteenth century; a conference paper on Moses Finley's journalism; and the lecture on Roman laughter . . . in French.
So I have spent the last couple of days, trying to get my head round this rather pressing list, trying to work out which one is MOST pressing ... amazing how long you can spend adjusting the order in your head (Ok, I've done a lot on laughter, so that should be under control... but it IS in FRENCH.. and so on).
I've even taken the plunge and done a bit of actual work on one of the list, only to find that after an hour or so I was beginning to worry more about one of the ones I had relegated to lower down the list. And so on, and on.
Tonight, I've tried to get a bit more of a grip. For one reason only, I've vowed to get on with Finley. The reason is simply that I have a date next week with a friend who knew him, and his writing, well (indeed commissioned a good deal of it) -- and that will be a waste of time if I haven't done my homework. So wish me, and my resolve, good luck.
But why a paper on Finley anyway?
Well we have a conference here in Cambridge to celebrate the centenary of his birth. There will be plenty of hard-edged papers on Finley's economic history and so on. But I've always been struck by how relatively little in the way of books he wrote in the 1950s and 1960s (he would in fact, in today's terms, have been an "REF problem"); and how much journalism he was powering out (mostly in print, some of which later got anthologised, but also a whole run of radio talks). And I've been struck by how much wider his intellectual range looks from that journalistic angle -- there's much more on ancient Rome than you'd expect, and much more (say ) on ancient religion.
So the idea is to give a different view of Finley as a historian .. starting from the newspaper and magazine articles that were for so long his bread and butter.
Does anyone remember any of them making a particular impact? Do let me know.
(Oh, by the way, if you haven't heard enough about my tv series by now, there's a preview clip now on the web, here.)