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Dag Hammarskjold: A Letter to The World
Book Review
© 2012 James LaFond
Dag Hammarskjold, 1964, Knopf, NY, 222 pages
This is one of my most important books; among the handful I would choose to place in a book bag if I were told to pack for forced retirement or exile today. Dag was an international civil servant: Secretary General of the United Nations. After his death in 1961 his diary was acquired for publication. This is it, presented chronologically from undated pieces before 1953 through the last haunting entry in August 24th 1961.
This collection includes poetry, quotes, wisdom and advice. It reminds me very much of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. If you can get a copy of it, do so. The translation by W. H. Auden seems a labor of love. The author’s interests were mostly spiritual, ethical and charitable. Here are two excerpts:
“The style of conduct which carries weight calls for stubbornness even in an act of concession: you have to be severe with yourself in order to have the right to be gentle to others.”
“Over and over again
The same steps,
The same words:
Never the answer.”
If you find a copy count yourself lucky, and don’t loan it out.
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