Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Modest Sanctuary in the Midst of a Great City

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Modest Sanctuary in the Midst of a Great City

Article excerpt

My 3-1/2-room New York City apartment where I have lived for 30 years:

"How small to others, but how great to me!" (Ovid).

James Boswell, in his journal, describes returning home at night to his London rooms. "I can come home in an evening, put on my old clothes, nightcap and slippers, and sit as contented as a cobbler writing in my journal or letters to my friends."

Two hundred years later, I do the same. Coming home from work in the evening, I change from a suit into old clothes and pad around my apartment in socks. At home, like Boswell, I pursue my interests: reading, writing, and music.

My apartment contains more than 1,000 books. Open the front door and there in the foyer, the 1/2 of my 3-1/2 rooms, is a bookcase. Favorite authors -- such as Chekhov, Tolstoy, Ibsen -- share space with an assortment of books that have come into my life helter-skelter over the years. Recent acquisitions are placed on the top of a bookcase in the living room. The growing pile conceals the Picasso reproduction of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza on the wall.

I read a lot to make up for the time I wasted when I was young, not having become a serious reader until college, where I arrived a virtual illiterate. Many of the classics read by my friends in their youth I now read for the first time.

The most-used piece of furniture in the living room is the couch. I enjoy reading in the horizontal position. The danger is falling asleep. The catnaps of my youth have become the elephantine slumbers of middle age. At midnight, I may awaken with "The Brothers Karamazov" resting on my chest, open at the same page as two hours earlier. This makes for slow progress.

Next to the couch is a CD player. In the music field, my great love is opera. I play operas when I read or write. As I write this piece, I am sitting at the table in the living room that serves as both writing and dining table, listening to Wagner's "Tannhauser." This opera has been part of my life for a long time. At college I played the Pilgrim's chorus before taking an examination for which I was unprepared. I credit Wagner for inspiring me to achieve a passing grade. …

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