I have a few short things to write about this Friday evening. The first is this article about Percy Shelley from The New Yorker; it’s about a new book called Being Shelley by Ann Wroe. According to the article:
Wroe tries to see as Shelley saw—to inhabit his consciousness and capture its every movement. This is, as she frankly says, ‘an experiment,’ and any reader who opens the book expecting a conventional biography is in for a surprise.
I do love unconventional biographies! And I’ve enjoyed reading Keats and now De Quincey so much that I’m considering reading more of the Romantics and could turn to Shelley at some point. I remember having to read Prometheus Unbound in college, though, and being a bit bewildered by it — I liked it, it was just something … strange. He’s a writer who intimidates me a bit. Perhaps I’ll turn to Coleridge first.
Then I was pleased to see this list of “The 86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time” (link via The Literary Saloon), but saddened to note that I’ve read only 4 of them — Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between, W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, and Tobias Smollett’s Travels Through France and Italy. Clearly I need to read more travel writing, as I do enjoy the genre. Perhaps I’ll read some Bruce Chatwin next; I’ve been meaning to for ages.
Then I thought insomniacs or people whose thoughts trouble them at night might like this Keats poem, which I thought beautiful, particularly the last six lines:
Sonnet to Sleep
O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleased eyes, embower’d from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes,
Or wait the Amen ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes;
Save me from curious conscience, that still hoards
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like the mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed casket of my soul.
Finally, a health update. Muttboy is healing very well, and has his full appetite and energy back. He has to wear a t-shirt much of the time, though, to keep him from scratching or licking his belly where the stitches are, so he looks undignified and undog-like. Poor thing.
I am healing quite well also; when I saw the endocrinologist yesterday and mentioned that I have been riding some, in spite of her orders not to, she said “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that” and then told me to take it easy, which I’m taking as permission to ride as much as I’d like. Yay! When I talked to my mother about this, telling her about the early riding, she said she would have done the same thing. You see why I am the way I am??
10 responses to “A few random things”
Glad to hear that both you and Muttboy are both doing better! It must feel good to get back to cycling–something more normal. Is your racing season almost over yet? Do you think you’ll be able to participate in any races for the rest of the year, or is that pushing things too much? I think Shelley and the other writers from that period sound really fascinating! That biography sounds unusual, but sometimes those are the best kind. As for that travel list–I’ve only read one (I thought I was going to have to admit to having read none when I finally came across one). I love travel narratives, but I guess the ones I’ve read are not famous enough to have made the list! I do have several of the titles on that list. When to get around to reading them though…
Yes, I know I’ve told you many times I read my Thriller genres now but I have a great fondness for Keats and have numerous volumes on Keats in my personnel library. But how would you know that I read “Sonnet to Sleep” each and every night. I am possible the worlds greatest insomniac due to age and my illness. You could call it an act of coincidence but Dorothy I am not one to believe in coincidences.
I saw the “86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time” list recently too. I haven’t even heard of some of the titles, and I’m pretty sure some of them are out of print. Freya Stark’s “The Lycian Shore” is definitely OP. Been trying to track down a copy for years.
Ah, Keats. Poetry for a chronic insomniac.
Good to know that you and Muttboy are OK on the health front. Trying to imagine a dog in T-shirt, though, and I found that a little comical. And I have to give it to you and your mother – you ladies are funny. 🙂
So glad you are continuing to improve. Books and bicycles must achieve balance; a little ride, a little read. Nice to hear that Muttboy is also on the mend.
Shelley has always interested me, not least because even Byron always said nice things about him… This one is going on my biography list.
I’ve only read ONE of the 86 Greatest Travel Books, but I’m copying the list and will start looking for some of the more familiar titles. A new goal, or maybe a new aspect of my increased nonfiction reads.
Thanks for the travel book list! Aside from the Sebald and being in the middle of Herodotus, I’ve not read any of them though I have a handful that are listed. The Shelley bio sounds interesting. Reminds me of Holmes, did he write and you read something about him trying to write a bio of Shelley? Or am I thinking of something else?
Glad you continue to feel better and glad Muttboy is recovering well.
Excellent, some new books to add to the library hold queue.
What I would consider unjust omissions:
“Travels with Charley” Steinbeck
“A Walk in the Woods” Bill Bryson
“Impossible Vacation” Spalding Gray
Glad to hear you’re on the bike. As long as it feels right for you, do it. Muttboy in a T-shirt? As long as it’s a cool race shirt.
Yes, esp. glad to hear you’re riding again. Surely if you keep it lowish to medium intensity it’s totally fine? Since you’ve been training so steadily these last couple years, it just seems to me that quite a few hours of moderate riding will put hardly any stress on your body compared to what doctors potentially imagine, if you know what I’m saying…
But really I stopped by to make sure you have the link to this Nicole Krauss essay in the Times about walking!
Thank you for the very appropriate sonnet. I’m glad to hear both you and Muttboy are doing well. I also would have ignored doctor’s orders. God forbid something ever happens to one of my eyes, and I’m told not to read. Oh ,and to make you feel better about the best travel books, the only ones I’ve read are Fear and Loathing, The Histories, and West with the Night. Seems I’ve got a lot of great trips to take.
Danielle — the season is almost over — a few races left, but people are getting tired. And I’ll wait until next spring — I’m willing to ride right now, but racing would be pushing it too much, I think. I’ve been meaning to get around to more travel reading!
Edd — interesting, and what a wonderful sonnet to read every night!
Orpheus — poor Muttboy does look ridiculous, although he doesn’t seem to know it — a good thing.
JenClair — the list is a good resource, isn’t it? I’m sure it’s flawed, as all lists are, but it surely has tons of good stuff on it.
Stefanie — Holmes did write a chapter on Shelley in his book Footsteps, and he has a biography on him too, Shelley: The Pursuit. Perhaps I should read his bio first — it’s probably better for someone not thoroughly familiar with Shelley.
Fendergal — A Walk in the Woods, definitely. The others you mention I’m not familiar with. Bryson’s book has to be one of the most popular travel books, right?
Jenny D. — I thoroughly agree with you, and feel like doctors (non-athletic doctors) generally don’t understand! So I’ve been doing what I feel I can do, which is a decent number of hours of fairly easy riding.
Emily — another doctor disobeyer! I’m definitely not alone.
Yay for good health news. I hope you can continue to enjoy your riding. And, don’t feel too bad about only having read four of the travel books. I’ve read a big fat 0! Oh well, good list to keep in mind when looking for some travel narratives.