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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Unpalatable and Indigestible

July and August have been difficult months for classics reading.

The most pressing business was to finish Ulysses, which I had started reading in May. By the beginning of August I was only halfway through it; on vacation I dragged it all over the Upper Peninsula but read not a word of it. But now it's done, or as I'm tempted to say, it's "beastly done."  When September comes, it will be wonderful to kick it around with my book discussion group and see what everyone else made of it. 

With Ulysses underway, I needed a few other titles for respite reading, but they didn't work out well--not a one of them.

--Pickwick Papers / Dickens. I'm on Chapter 25. Oh how I hate this book. Flopping and flapping, random and inconsequent, trumped up, sticky, and Not That Funny, Pickwick Papers is taken up only to be flung down again with grumpy grunts. Why do I keep at it? Sigh. To fulfill a cherished childhood ambition to read all of the titles in the Whitman classic card game "Authors," of which Pickwick Papers might not even be the least palatable title. Washington Irving isn't all fun and Ichabod Cranes, you know. At his worst he can make your eyes drop right out of your head.

--House of Mirth / Edith Wharton. Okay, this book is not such a punishment to read as Pickwick and does not thwack your brains out like Ulysses. And I have got past the appreciation-impeding mistake of thinking Lily Bart is a romantic heroine. But still it's disagreeable to go at--every session it sinks a little lower. She reminds me of Anna Karenina in throwing away more resources than she can afford.

--Can you Forgive Her / Anthony Trollope and New Grub Street / George Gissing. I downloaded the LibriVox readings of these and started in on them, but so far they have failed to hook and reel me in. I think they will, though, given more time.

There now! Now I'm feel reinvigorated and ready to run at Pickwick again, now that the back cover of Ulysses is slammed shut!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Never read Ulysses but did Sound and Fury way back in college. I remember fighting the first hour of reading, but then as long as I could hang in here it was a world I could move around in.

Joan's excited you've read Tess--she loved it and then went to Mayor. How was Anthony Trollope--never read anything, but remember from undergrad school prof referring to it--can't remember what she said.

Classics Revisited said...

I listened to all Trollope's Barsetshire books--all Librivox.org recordings--and loved every minute of them. The "Last Chronicle of Barsetshire" is deservedly said to be the best, but on no account should one skip straight to it. It's only that wonderful because you've already met all the other characters and lived their stories in the previous books. When they all come together in the final one, it's stupendous. Mrs. Proudy is one of the all-time great creations.