Tag Archives: books

Not ready for it

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I’d had enough grim, so the next audiobook was selected for harmlessness.

It is true that Lady Flora Hastings’ fate was bitter, but the tale of George Eliot’s perhaps unladylike hand is innocuous, it was amusing to see Hughes get Darwin’s beard entangled in a compromise of the scientific principle, and the story of Fanny Cornforth is no more than louche.  I therefore walked unprepared into the account of the Fanny Adams murder case which concludes the book.  It’s not something I’d heard of before, and to be honest I wish I hadn’t heard it now, especially late in the evening; it needed quite a sweetener to take the taste away.

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“It should be a fine evening so long as there isn’t a thunderstorm…”

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though personally I am betting that there was one.  The speaker is a character in Crime and Punishment, after all.

Perhaps the novel’s dramatic and emotional moments were compressed into undue proximity by the abridgement; I will only remark that the characters seemed to have a disproportionate quota of spasms, fits, convulsions, fevers, catatonic attacks, tremblings and faints, which had an unfortunate effect on one reader at least.

Outside the wind is picking up again; gusting to force 8, perhaps 9.  2018 coming in with a roar, and I hope we all keep our roofs on.

Half an ear

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On a quiet day I indulged in the traditional holiday jigsaw:

This allowed me to listen to the non-traditional grim audiobook.  Complicated, and it would have made more sense if I had put a map in front of me, but then I would have had to listen properly.  A story so appalling can sometimes only be taken in with half an ear.

 

On not doing Christmas shopping

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I have left the snowflakes behind, supplied the mice in the attic with a treacherous Christmas dinner (O please not rats), and may or may not have locked the back door.  The shops in Salisbury are much better than those at home, but there are ways of not shopping, thus:

First go to the local library to look at the Kathe Kollwitz exhibition, and look very carefully at her looking very carefully at herself.

Then go to St Thomas’ and contemplate the Doom painting.

After this, proceed through the darkening crowded streets and brightly lighted shops, solitary, disorientated, and immune to temptation, and purchase one spoon.

Returning, I finished reading a book which in some places became a time machine

and now I have to choose the next title from a selection.  One for night and one for day.

Up and down

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and down and up and to and fro and back and forward – hunting the elusive gift.  At last I crossly gave up.

Once home there was indulgence:  what one might call a comfy read, though some of the content was far from comfy, given the grim history of gem mining in all the world’s continents.

The sun set over a quiet sea

and then a 360° degree sunset.  From the back

from the front

and straight up to the zenith.

Later I glued tiny angel pegs and dried oranges and deep grey card and leaves,

while listening to Oliver Twist – today’s bargain from the charity shop, somewhat hammered on the outside and missing disc 1 of Pride and Prejudice – but I could be said to be familiar with those chapters anyway 🙂

I’ll go on to something really festive to help me get through the pre-Christmas housework.  Maybe Crime and Punishment?

Submission day

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The trouble with choosing an essay title which includes a metaphor is that it generates a sort of Tristram Shandy of essays.  Instead of Sterne’s digressions On Noses and such Shandean topics, I could have written On Beginnings that are Endings, On Endings that are Beginnings, On Association, On Uncanonical Canons, On Questions, On Mosaics Ancient and Modern, and, of course, On Metaphor.

I ruthlessly removed most of these essays from the assignment finally submitted, compromising somewhat with the expectations of the tutor (which I may or may not have guessed correctly), though I worked out some of the phantom digressions whilst daydreaming in the shower. Vestiges remain in the multiple drafts on file, and in the back of my mind. They will also show up later in my water bill.

Identifiable

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Time for a re-read.  This is anecdotal and identifiable-with; at some moments deliciously so. I particularly cherish Manguel’s Endpaper pages, in which he describes the history of reading which he imagines himself to be writing; it runs to a minimum of sixty-eight chapters.  (The version he did write has ten chapters, plus the Endpaper section).

Favourite anecdote:  In the tenth century … the Grand Vizier of Persia, Abdul Kassem Ismael, in order not to part with his collection of 117,000 volumes when travelling, had them carried by a caravan of four hundred camels trained to walk in alphabetical order.  (p 193)

I would not want Jung to be my psychopomp

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on the way through the pale trees, although I am naturally gratified to use a recently-acquired word.

The mind of this strange man is worth a visit, however, and demonstrates the truism that images and narratives are diminished by their exegesis; even Jung could only make his stories smaller when he enlarged upon them.

A matter of routine

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… obviously, as I no longer pause for photographs.  Still, being on the inside of a large damp cloud all day may have had something to do with it; not even the cathedral could manage to be photogenic in the gloom.

It is a great treat to be on the loose in a real library again, though I must say some of these are rather forbidding tomes.  The one I fancied most was entitled Dissenting readers.  Then I looked again and found it was really called Discerning readers, which put me right off.  Very Freudian misreading.  There was also a fat anthology of literature just called DEATH, which looked inviting, but I didn’t have enough borrowing allowance by the time I’d selected the others.  Another time perhaps.

In a way this is the one I’m most looking forward to:

It’s years since I had a Homeric binge, and I’ve heard good things of this translation.  And it doesn’t come with a time limit (apart from good nature on the part of the lending library).

Taking the car for a paddle

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I steadied myself to drive along the exposed coast road, while the car rocked and bucketed around me. At least, I thought, if a freak gust hits the car, it will blow me inland rather than outboard.  Where we dipped down to sea level, the waves were making sudden white walls of their own above the sea wall, and running down to fill the road.  The car obediently paddled.

Back on the clifftops, we sightseers staggered about incapably, breathless and unable to hold our ground in the gale, wrestling for a few moments to pay our respects to the turmoil below.  When this is over, it will be interesting to visit the newly-sculpted beach.

Once home, another book to complete:

Eagleton writes with gusto; he has axes to grind, and the edges are not merely ornamental.  Over an extended period this became a little tiresome, especially when you reach the heading Conclusion and it proves to be far (far!) from the end, but even so there were moments when he managed to crack me up.

The wind is still thumping and booming in the chimney, and all hope of seeing Orionids is pretty much gone.