Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This and that. Mostly that.

Reading has taken a back seat lately so it follows that writing about reading has as well. But since I can’t write about what I’ve read, I’ll write about what I’m planning to read.

While reading Petersburg I kept thinking that it reminded me of something I had already read and it finally dawned on me I was thinking of The Truth about the Savolta Case by Eduardo Mendoza. I read this about ten years ago and found it was still on our shelves so I plucked it to read (and enjoy) again. Set in Barcelona near the end of World War I, it mirrors the turbulence in post-Franco Spain. I believe the English version is out of print but I see it pop up in used bookstores every now and then for $10 or less.

Rebecca at Rebecca Reads has organized a tour of Anthony Trollope for the next Classics Circuit. Never having read anything by Trollope, I decided to take the plunge with The Way We Live Now. Three other bloggers are scheduled for the same book so I look forward to reading their comments as well as the ones about other works during what I dubbed Trollopolooza (I don't think the name will catch sounds like it could be for a sex-workers’ convention).

I’m listening to Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life during my commute and enjoy it every bit as much as his biography on Alexander Hamilton. I recommend it, even if you’ve read other biographies on Washington. I commented on Joseph Ellis’ His Excellency last summer. Having read it recently I find it helps during this bio--knowing the framework the additional details "stick" better. One thing (of many) that I like about Chernow’s book involves his fleshing out of other characters involved with Washington, goading me to see if there are good biographies on Nathanael Greene and Anthony Wayne among others.

(Speaking of which, I remember a series of books that was in my elementary school when I was in the fourth grade. They were biographies, all with orange covers and didn’t have much more than the person's name as the title. Does anyone else recall this series? I recall reading dozens of these about people like Francis Marion, Jim Thorpe, Helen Keller, and many others. If I recall correctly, at least half the book would cover events in the person's youth to make it relevant to a 10-year-old.)

I seem to have gathered several books that are at least partially about Austria in the early 20th-century:

The Road to the Open by Arthur Schnitzler
The World Of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil

(I still need to get to the earlier The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth which I picked up in an airport bookstore several years ago.)

Somewhere along the way I want to rejoin my ancient Greek reading by tackling Thucydides, Xenophon, and plays. And I rather doubt I’ll have a chance to read The Tempest before the upcoming movie is released but I’d like to try. I’m not even going to mention all the other books I want to read or revisit. Oh well…

A final thought: In reading D. G. Myers’ post on Cancer Etiquette, his comment about “Even so, hope is a dicey thing” took me off on a mental tangent about the myth of Pandora’s jar. When putting the lid back on after releasing all the evils into the world, Pandora is able to trap hope before it can escape. Of course this raises the question of why hope was in a jar of evils in the first place. I’ve always interpreted it to mean that since hope was unable to escape with the other evils, it is not inherently good or evil but dependent on how it is used. However it can be interpreted, I continue to be increasingly appreciative of how the “ancients” framed and described things.


Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

Musil with the level of attention you gave Bely - that would be impressive!

Those Bely posts were excellent, and almost sent me back to the novel, long overdue for a revisit. Someday.

Dwight said...

Thanks. It was difficult to write about it or even excerpt from it without giving too much away once the plot twists started.

Love the "almost"...I know I feel that way with some reviews. Then reality hits me on how the TBR stack already wobbles.