“Retirement”

It is often joked about when I return home, “Are you going to get a proper job before you retire, kid?” (My parents’ witty friends.)

“Yep. I’m making sure that I don’t end up doing what you do.” <Chortles all round>. The question is funny, even if it does sting a little. Perhaps the subject has its moments too.

Wills Hall Gardens

This notion of ‘retirement’ is curious. Of course, it features heavily in my research. Andrew Marvell, by his own admission, favoured ‘modest retirement’.

There are entire realms of conscience and casuistry to be explored when examining someone’s choice of the retired life over the active, public life.

It has somehow grown to mean more than that, though.

‘Retirement’ is no longer a clean split. While it’s an ending of some description, perhaps even a celebrated one, it’s not necessarily a definitive one. Take Emeritus Professors, who retire yet retain their affiliation and research capacities. Retirement is a discharge of duties, but not a definitive vale/valete.

But it’s more visible where careers are considerably shorter. Two highly celebrated players in women’s tennis, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, both ‘retired’ (with all the press, farewells, sporting obituaries, etc.) only to announce their return to the game within two years. Was ‘retirement’ ever really retirement?

What about writing? A ‘retired writer’ might sound like a busted flush. But there is still the idea of putting a writing portal to rest. A respected blogger in early modern studies stated his ‘farewell’ in November last year.

I should like to thank everyone who has visited this blog over the last three years and, especially, those who have become its followers. I do appreciate your generosity very much indeed. I am only sorry that I could not have constructed a more appealing blog. But the time has come for me to move on and to do something else. There will, therefore, be no new posts here and, in January, the blog will disappear. I wish everyone well for 2011.

Half-a-dozen or so comments, several nameless, invited him to reconsider. The foretold retirement lasted one week. With the post still intact, the blog is now pretty much at full velocity again (3-4 posts per day). It’s a fabulously informative blog, but how much appeal is likely to be garnered from pictures of historical figures and/or random academics?

I have done something similar. In April 2006, I stated the intention to end an old journal, and have since, albeit scarcely, continued to post there (29 public posts in almost five years since). But it has never been the same. It is a miscellany of the past.

It’s not for me to speculate, but if you need acclaim from a readership, you might as well just ask for it. Endings, valedictions, ‘retirement’ – as is becoming apparent in this all too public world – are becoming all too much like attention seeking.

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