PETER GAY: Prolific Historian

Aug 2009
George Town Tasmania Australia
Peter Gay(born 1923) is a prolific historian with more than twenty-five books under his literary belt as he heads to his 90th year. He retired in 1993 at the age of 70 as Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University. I retired at the age of 55 in 1999 as a lecturer at the Swan College of Technical and Further Education, a post-secondary training college in Perth Western Australia. He published Voltaire's Politics in 1959, the year I joined the Baha’i Faith at the age of 15. This book examined Voltaire as a politician and how his politics influenced the ideas that Voltaire had championed in his writings.

I did not read any of Gay’s books until some time in the 1970s and 1980s; firstly The Enlightenment: An Interpretation in 3 volumes from 1966 to 1970; and secondly, his massive The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud in 5 volumes published from 1984 to 1998 including, as it did, The Education of the Senses, The Cultivation of Hatred and The Pleasure Wars. The final volume of the set was published just months before I retired from a thirty year career as a teacher and lecturer.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 11 July 2010.

I’ll work on your books, Peter,
in these years of my retirement
from FT, PT and casual work..(1)

I am not in your reading league.
I’ve had my nose to many a set
of grindstones over the years…(2)

Now, though, with most of those
grindstones behind me I can give
a much fuller concentration to….

1. reading and the cultural attainments
of the literary and scholarly mind,
2. focusing on special writing projects
not as extensive as yours on the story
of humankind before modern history.
3. focusing on the more recent years
of our modern age which began for
you in the 1890s & which you wrote
about in your books of psychohistory.

I like that, Peter, yes the 1890s—the real
beginning when our world was energized(3)
to a degree greater than those Victorian or
Enlightenment years which you studied and
wrote about to humankind’s great benefit!!!

(1) my full retirement began in 2005.
(2) my grindstones were not all grinding, but my full, my more complete, intellectual and literary development had to wait until my retirement in the first decade of this 3rd millennium.
(3) See Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, Wilmette, 1957, p.244.

Ron Price
11 July 2010
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