Monday, November 25, 2013

A Lunchtime Trip

from Starkvegas, Mississippi to Oxford, not-Mississippi via Poland, Berlin and South Africa
We begin our little journey with the recent announcement that Donald "Field" Brown, a Mississippi State student double majoring in English and Philosophy, has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship! The Rhodes Scholarship was established at the behest of Cecil Rhodes.

That name sounds familiar.
Cecil Rhodes: Man and Empire-Maker. Princess Catherine Radziwill. Funk and Wagnalls Company, New York. 1918.
Sure enough, there it is right on the shelf behind my desk/lunch table-- British rule of South Africa, which would explain where ol' Cecil got his money. Mining.

So who is this Princess? My minimal skimming of the book suggests she's not the most objective author, but what do I know? It's lunchtime and I am not predisposed to go wandering about searching for biographical information, so I turn to that infallible source, Wikipedia:
Princess Catherine Radziwiłł (30 March 1858 – 12 May 1941) was a Polish princess from the Polish-Lithuanian aristocratic Radziwiłł family. She was born as Countess Ekaterina Adamovna Rzewuska. She married Prince Wilhelm Radziwiłł at age 15 and moved to Berlin to live with his family.

And then it gets interesting:
She stalked the English-born South African politician Cecil Rhodes and asked him to marry her, but he refused. She then got revenge by forging his name on a promissory note. She was convicted of forging Rhodes' signature and spent time in a South African jail for her crimes.
Enough about the miner & the Princess. Back to Oxford-- not-Mississippi, the Oxford across the pond-- where Field will be studying.
Brown, the son of Willie and Cynthia Brown, said he is particularly interested in studying post-World War II African-American literature. He said both English and philosophy are related to his love of studying ideas.

"English is the narrative form; literature deals with everyday people and how they relate to ideas," Brown said. "Philosophy is the systematic study of ideas, and the two go together."

Brown said that, while the promise of continuing his studies at Oxford is thrilling, the reality of gaining the fellowship is life changing.

"So many great minds have walked the halls of Oxford, including tons of writers and a lot of important thinkers who have shaped the western world," Brown said.

Brown said he plans to pursue masters of studies degrees in both American literature and modern English literature. Specifically, he is interested in trans-Atlantic interactions within literature, particularly how McCarthyism scare tactics of the 1950s and the Cold War affected which books were promoted.


  1. If memory serves, Cecil Rhodes was a monster (and the namesake of Rhodesia). Stuff about chopping off hands and the sort... Being a Rhodes Scholar on the flip-side... That is so cool! Btw, I totally dig your writing.

    1. I know next to nothing about old Cecil, and I certainly didn't know that stuff! Yikes!!

      It is cool about Field, though. He's a nice guy. Happy for him.



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