Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Review: By the Waters of Babylon, by Stephen Vincent Benét

This is a bit complicated.

When I was in seventh grade I first read Stephen Vincent Benét’s short story By the Waters of Babylon. I enjoyed it but the only thing that stuck with me were the words “There was also the shattered image of a man or a god. It had been made of white stone, and he wore his hair tied back like a woman. His name was ASHING, as I read on the cracked half of a stone. I thought it wise to pray to ASHING, though I do not know that god.”

Never managed to remember the name or the author, which is unusual for me, but whenever something brought the great god ASHING to my mind, I would look it up online, and be happy I remembered that much.

That happened again this morning – it came up while talking to my wife, and I looked it up. Having found the title and author, I checked the three libraries I have access to and none of them had it. So I did what any self-respecting bookgeek would do — I did an internet search and found the story on the Internet Archive.

I’m so glad I did. I was just as blown away by it this morning as I had been in seventh grade. The upshot — me being me — is that I now need to read more Stephen Vincent Benét.

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