Being underslept, I had difficulty keeping a focus on the official business of the day.
It was distractingly easy to consider munchy ginger fudge, since they keep the fudge shop so handy to the cathedral. I leave it to each reader to decide on the wisdom of this policy. At lunch time thought became action.
A pamphlet: less obviously enticing. I was nonetheless tempted by this distraction, and was only prevented from some old-fashioned reading under the desk by the very small class size and my corresponding visibility.
Part of the day was spent contemplating hand sewing fine hems of muslin. Later I congratulated myself on the prescience which had caused me to pack pins.
At last: a little time to read for my own entertainment, and I’ve had this one queued up for months.
And what an anthology it is; bracing, frightening, hilarious, painful, astonishing by turns. Here is my favourite so far, for its unpretending humanity:
and possibly five pounds lighter, but at present it’s more a case of inward niggles, wondering which typo or howler has made it through the proof-reading. There has to be at least one. Also worrying slightly about the jokes.
Always risky, jokes. But once I had had the eating weasels rule pointed out to me, the Epistle of Barnabas just had to go in. And once the Epistle of Barnabas was in, one might as well have Warwick the Kingmaker as well (“Are you Edmund Mortimer? If not, have you got him?”) And then somehow The Sorrows of Werther crept into the general stirabout.
It may have been injudicious. I carefully remind myself: who cares what THEY think?
Found on a second-hand bookstall for a modest 50p:
This autobiographical account of Christabel Bielenberg’s experiences during World War II in Germany, as the Irish/English wife of a German lawyer, depicts a slow awakening: from youthful preoccupation with their own careers, family life and friends to the conviction that the developing Nazi regime was monstrous, and eventually to the belief that it must be opposed.
No doubt memories must have been subject to the rewritings of time, as the book was not published until 1968, but the mélange of trivial and terrifying, ludicrous and horrific incidents, along with Bielenberg’s refusal to take sides along national lines, creates an unusual voice. Towards the end of the book Bielenberg describes what it was like to summon up enough courage deliberately to walk into the Gestapo HQ in Berlin, and try to lie her husband out of Ravensbruck after his arrest for complicity in an attempt to kill Hitler (of which he was indeed guilty – if that is the right word).
At the time of reading I was entirely absorbed in this extraordinary scenario. It was only later that I realised the serendipity of finding a commentary upon the Book of Judith in this improbable source, just at the moment I need it.
A nostalgia piece really, or an introductory text for those of us who weren’t there for steam trains or WWII. The details are interesting, though excessive use of the words ‘hero’ and ‘heroic’ is always to be reprehended; in a properly narrated story, the reader will be quite aware of courage without having to be told, and there was a lot of it about at the time.
Then there are the three Judiths. Biblical Judith is pink and there is a lot more of her; Middle English Metrical Judith is yellow, and is both selective and inventive; and Old English Judith is green, and unfortunately missing her first section, so we are not exactly comparing like with like. The point is to clarify what was left out, what was included, and what was made up as additional story elements in the re-tellings. Hmmm.
Returning from the home patch to find a peculiar and unsettling incident going on in Salisbury, of all unlikely places. Apart from the usual sticky-beaks, most people are going about their business, though at times with rather raised eyebrows, as indeed I am doing myself.
Nest building continues. I love charity shops.
Meantime I am reading the story of Judith in the Middle English Metrical Paraphrase of the Old Testament. Spelling Nebuchadnezzar as ‘Nabogodhonosour’ is genius. And ‘pupplysch’ is an excellent word. And it was written by a proto-feminist, which can’t necessarily be said of the biblical source:
Thei say, “We wott we have yt wun
with wyll of God and wyt of thee.”
Enough to think about for now.
lxxiv : Wear your dressing gown back to front
It’s surprisingly efficient when sitting up in bed to read in the cold cold small very small hours.
There are a lot of people re-reading their Le Guin at the moment, and I am one of them.
Owing to my liking for frozen explorers, and The worst journey in the world, this is my favourite. Though there were distrait moments when I read the same page six times.
Down goes the labour of love, the elegance, the quietude, the pristine whiteness. Sometimes one thinks: perhaps keep one or two of the year’s best. But no; better to bundle them hugger mugger, and don’t look while you do it.
Dusty, disordered and down.
… with relief. Apparently some of the metaphors played 🙂 And the bits that wouldn’t go into the suitcase don’t seem to have been too disastrous, leaving me a respectable % – quite pleasing, considering it’s twenty years since the last bout of academic prose. On to the next…