chapter  XV
Old Orders Changing
ByTate, Lampedusa
Pages 9

It is an ancient and productive literary habit to compare things as they are with things as they used to be. In Imperial Rome, men looked back to the Republic; so to this day they look back past the Reformation or the Renaissance or the Civil War, the points at which characteristic disorders began. The practice has its dangers; the prelapsarian can become merely a moral and intellectual deep shelter, and there is some difficulty in drawing the line between the good old days of the vulgar myth and the intellectual's nostalgia for some 'organic society'. The lost paradise lies archetypally behind much worthless historical fiction, and agreeable though it may seem that the community as a whole appears to share the view that the second Temple is not like the first, the fact is that the first can be reconstructed on the South Shore, or on a Hollywood set, far more comfortably than in a work of imagination.