Tuesday, July 13, 2010

One Hundred Fears of Solitude

Marguerite Yourcenar, offering her prophesy in the voice of the Roman emperor Hadrian (AD 76-138):

I doubt if all the philosophy in the world can succeed in suppressing slavery; it will, at most, change the name. I can well imagine forms of servitude worse than our own, because more insidious, whether they transform men into stupid, complacent machines, who believe themselves free just when they are most subjugated, or whether to the exclusion of leisure and pleasures essential to man they develop a passion for work as violent as the passion for war among barbarous races. To such bondage for the human mind and imagination I prefer even our avowed slavery.

From Memoirs of Hadrian, 1951; quoted by Hal Crowther in 'One Hundred Fears of Solitude,' Granta III, 2010.
Image source here.