All posts filed under: Quarantine Book Club

Making the Best of Enforced Solitude: Quillette’s Quarantine Book Club

As you read this, untold thousands of coronavirus patients around the world are enduring lonely, quarantined isolation—in specialized hospital wings, on cruise ships, or, as in most cases, in their homes. While everyone’s first priority is health and safety, those infected individuals who are not severely disabled by the disease also face the question of what to do with their weeks of enforced solitude. Netflix binges and the distraction of social media only go so far. Can one emerge from coronavirus quarantine not only fully recovered, but an improved person as well? By way of aspirational example, consider the 12th-century case of Hildegard von Bingen‚ whose epic transformation during her own lengthy isolation paved the way to sainthood—not to mention a string of smash-hit musical compositions, some performed to this day, in the genre now known as sacred monophony. Hildegard was born to minor nobility in the German town of Bermersheim vor der Höhe, which now sits in the southwestern exurbs of Frankfurt. According to some tithing traditions, 10th children, such as Hildegard was reputed …