We had dinner at Penang in Bethesda, which has very good food, decent prices, a large contingent of Malaysian customers, and a unique, family style atmosphere. And we found good parking.
We visited Dunbarton Oaks in Georgetown, which was a delight. If you haven’t been there, I suggest you visit it. Admission is free, and there are three things to see. First, the Byzantine art, a nice selection of mosaics, fabrics, silver pieces, ivory pieces, ceramics, jewelry and more. It reminded me of the wonderful exhibit that I recently saw at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and one of the docents pointed out that the missing exhibits at Dunbarton were now at the Royal Academy. The second part of the museum is dedicated to pre-Columbian art works (the Olmec pieces dating back 3000 years or more) from Mexico, Central America and the Andes of Peru and north. This portion of the museum is a circle of glass circular rooms overlooking the gardens designed by Philip Johnson almost 50 years ago (looks brand new). The third part is the “music room” a very large and very elegant room which was the site of the conference in the mid-1940s which determined to create a “United Nations”.
Actually, there is a fourth part of the museum – the gardens, which we did not see but which can be a trip in itself. And the selection of scholarly works in the gift shop on each of these topics is impressive.
“Disraeli” is a biography by Andre Maurois, written in 1927 and like his biography of Shelly, which I read last year, very enjoyable and easy to absorb. I am sure that there are many more detailed and more researched life stories of both of these Englishmen, but I recommend Maurois for his style. His Disraeli is an interesting character. Baptised by his father, Jewish Benjamin Disraeli was in many ways a misfit in his youth, as much as he tried to be the perfect Englishman. He was very very bright and equally ambitious and extraordinarily hard working and diligent. He was also very handsome and had an easy way with the ladies, who responded to his clever conversation and his outrageously rakish way of dressing. Feeling frustrated in his ambitions, he turned to writing and wrote several novels (with varying degrees of success), before finally finagling his way into the House of Commons. But what happened then was fascinating. He became a steady parliamentarian for thirty years, he married a woman 15 years his senior, he twice became Conservative prime minister, he became very close to Queen Victoria. His policies were pro-empire. He favored increasing the voting classes. He did not believe that the government should over regulate religious observance.