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It Was Xenophanes

In response to:

The Pilgrimage of Malcolm X from the November 11, 1965 issue

To the Editors:

I. F. Stone’s otherwise admirable review of Malcolm X’s autobiography somehow manages to sport a footnote with a German reference. Even though one of Eliot’s footnotes made Die Fragmente der Vorsokrater almost a household word, there are some excellent works in English on the Presocratics which one can refer to and even discover there that the presocratic in question is called Xenophanes, rather than Xenophon. One can even find this out in Herodotus, which even Mr. X has read in jail. And a nice point would be, if one is using the Greek text, reading “blond” for “red-headed” Thracians…scholarship permits, and after all, Malcolm’s devils were blond rather than redheaded.

We all know that I. F. Stone is no pedant and hope this little mishap will keep him even less so.

D’Arcy Fitzwilliam-Vere

New York City

I.F Stone replies:

I’ll never be able to show my face again in Ionia. It is Xenophanes and I don’t know how I slipped up on it. As for the coloring of the hair and eyes of the Thracians, I seem to have gotten a raw Diels. All I had to refer to was a copy of Diels’ Fragmente I picked up of all places on a visit to Castro’s Cuba. Diels translates Xenophanes as saying “Die Aethiopen behaupten, ihre Götter seien stumpfnasig und schwarz; die Thraker, blauäugig und rothaarig.”

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