It’s been a long week

And I’ve had some trouble concentrating on my reading. So here’s a short post summing things up and wishing you a happy weekend.

  • As I wrote about yesterday, I’m working my way through Vincent Carretta’s biography of Olaudah Equiano who wrote a narrative about his life in slavery and after. He’s a very interesting writer, dealing with a lot of important things going on in the mid to late 18C: slavery, of course, and travel, exploration, colonialism, trade, economic theory, political theory, sensibility, autobiography, dissenting Protestantism.
  • I’m also in the middle of Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness, which I’m finding powerful and moving. It’s unlike most novels I’ve read; it’s a fable of some sort, and I’m still figuring out exactly what it all means. None of the characters are named, although they all feel lively and real. The sentences strike me as strange — does anybody know why Saramago uses run-ons as he does?
  • I’m about 40 pages into Swann’s Way, working my way slowly towards the goal of reading the entire Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time, whichever you prefer. So far, I’m loving it. I like very much Proust’s slow, careful descriptions of detail and nuances and moods, and I like his digressiveness, moving about in time, following one thought to the next, wherever they might go. So, I keep a list of books I’ve read, and I’m unsure how to count Proust. What do you think? Should the entire thing, In Search of Lost Time, count as one book, or can I count each volume separately?
  • I have also begun, but barely dented, Frances Burney’s Journals and Letters. The edition I have is only selections from the journal and letters, but it quite lengthy anyway, at something like 500-600 pages. I’m still in what the editor calls her “apprenticeship” years, her late teens, and I’m impressed by the quality of thought and writing. I can see her developing her eye for the details of social life she would satirize so well in her novels.
  • Still plugging away at Jane Hirschfield’s poetry, which is as good as ever. I get a good number of hits from people googling Hirschfield; she must be fairly popular.
  • Some things coming up: I’ll be buying John Updike’s new novel Terrorist soon for my in-person book group which should be meeting in the next month or so, and I now own a copy of H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau for the Slaves of Golconda discussion at the end of August. It sounds like a number of people will read a second Wells novel, but I’m not sure I’ll have time. We’ll see about that one. As for other reads? I’m not entirely sure. I like to save some of my reading choices for a spur of the moment feeling. And I don’t want to give away everything that might appear around here — to give you a reason to come back.

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