Sunday, August 1, 2010

Where Are the East Asian Histories of Greece and the Roman Empire?

Apparently Umberto Eco had a project to encourage the researching and publication of exactly such works, on the assumption that there would be much to be gained on our own history from a fresh outside perspective. I would enthusiastically read such histories but it seems Eco's program was a bust; I don't know of any. Am I missing them? If not, why are there none? On the other side, there are certainly plenty of English-language histories of China.

I should add that modern (and "post-modern") writers are not the literary Ostrogoths they're often called in book reviews by grumbling columnists. They usually show a deep understanding and love for the classics, and continue to mine them in inventive ways that make them even more relevant. Italo Calvino is another excellent example.

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