Actually, that is not quite true because what I did feel was intense pleasure, delight and wonderment mixed with shame at the lazy idleness I have nurtured through the years which has left me as a man filled with opinions but not much in the way of true learning. So, thank the Gods, for (Sir William Robert, 3rd Baronet) Ferdinand Mount and his jewel of a book, Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back To Us. It is typical of this man that he rarely if ever uses his title, and he carries his staggeringly huge learning with the lightest of ease. And I do mean 'learning' in the very highest and best sense of the word. He doesn't just read books on the innumerable, mind-boggling subjects on which he writes with such elegant ease, he goes out and inspects them, digs into their history, compares them with similar artifacts, takes account of the mores of their day, links them to events and artifacts of today, and then with the sort of wit that leaves you smiling and nodding in appreciation he offers some startling conclusions.
Perhaps the most startling is the main thrust of his book which is the proposition that, far from the progressive's dream of Mankind climbing ever higher and higher to new levels of civilisation, in fact we have just spent the last two thousand years going in Full Circle back to the Greeks and the Romans. He points the finger, not of hostility but more of intellectual wonderment, at the last 2,000 years of Christianity which, whilst it, too, had its virtues, also acted as a big wet blanket on the behaviour of Man. Now the blanket has dried out and is beginning to disintegrate under the unrelenting forces of "that old common arbitrator, Time" and, lo, we find ourselves returning in a mixture of surprise and delight to the truly ancien regime of the classical world.
Please, please, buy this delightful, witty and immensely learn-ed book.