Skip to main content

The Covid-19 Zeitgeist: Fifty Essays by Stewart Edelstein

THE COVID-19 ZEITGEIST: FIFTY ESSAYS, written by Stewart Edelstein, was published in collaboration with the Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives.

All essays unfold in real-time, from the first Massachusetts COVID-19 order (around the time of the vernal equinox) to the third week in June (around the time of the summer solstice). Some essays pertain to the virus itself, such as anosmia, pandemic, corona, epidemiology, hydroxychloroquine, pandemic, quarantine, and vaccination. Others pertain to getting into nature as a way to soothe our tattered souls during this pandemic, such as equinox, spring, perambulate, crocus, skunk cabbage, daffodil, forsythia, tulip, marigold, lilac, peony, rhododendron, and solstice.

The book includes essays about hugs, what’s essential, nonce words, why people hoard toilet paper, binging, Zoombombing, obsolescence, and nostalgia. As virus-related news events developed, Stewart wrote essays based on them. For example, when Dr. Fauci stated that all should be prepared to hunker down, that was the featured word. When news broke that scammers were taking advantage of security flaws in the economic stabilization package, his word was scam; when authorities predicted a second wave of the virus, his word was recrudescence; when the Supreme Court held oral argument hearings remotely for the first time, his word was court; when Secretary of State Galvin proposed mail-in ballots because of the virus, his word was ballot; when the BSO cancelled its 2020 Tanglewood season, his word was music; when the national death toll from this virus hit 100,000, his word was obituary; when farmers markets reopened, his word was vegetables; and when Dr. Fauci testified that we can’t be cavalier about this virus in the context of reopening schools, his word was cavalier. 

The reader of this book will encounter, among others, Susan B. Anthony, Aristotle, Lewis Carroll, Cicero, Charles Dickens, Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), James Joyce, Konkapot, Mrs. Malaprop, Monty Python, Moses, as well as a pantheon of Greek gods. Readers will also find apt quotations from, among others, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Cookie Monster, Dr. Anthony Fauci, David Dudley Field, Joni Mitchell, Arthur Schopenhauer, William Shakespeare, Edith Wharton, and William Wordsworth.

Reading these essays will take you to far-flung and sometimes unexpected places, including the Garden of Eden, fourteenth-century Venice, the inside of your brain, Wicca sessions, the 1876 World’s Fair, and rivers where hippos like to hang out. THE COVID-19 ZEITGEIST: FIFTY ESSAYS  is for sale and all proceeds benefit the library.

To order this $10.00 book, email, or order through The Bookloft in Great Barrington or The Bookstore in Lenox.