Friday, June 27, 2008

Man can do nothing without the make believe of a beginning.

It does seem a little silly to start blogging about one's favourite books with George Eliot, whose writing I don't enjoy very much. I've read about half of Daniel Deronda, and would like to finish it, and I rather admire George Eliot for writing the thickest prose I've ever come across, but it's not something I jump up and down about. There are, however, a couple of great quotes from her that I tend to use liberally. At least one of them I don't think I use with the meaning she intended it to have, but it's brilliantly apt if I use my own meaning.

So, I already have a livejournal, which I do post in with some semblance of regularity. But livejournal somehow is not Blogging, and there is something appealing about Blogging. At any rate, here lies literary squee, philosophical rambles, and probably my amusing forays into language (Example: in the French translation of Harry Potter, lemon drops seem to have become 'lemon Eskimos'. I haven't the faintest idea why, unless it is some strange idiom).

I have finished four books in the last two days, which seems highly creditable. These being Tam Lin (Pamela Dean, and about a fourth reread), The Summer Book (Tove Jansson, who is also creator of the Moomins--did you know they started out as an anti-Fascist political cartoon?), North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell), and Prince Caspian (C.S. Lewis).

Tam Lin, is, as always fabulous. Probably at some point I will post at length about it. The Summer Book was short and sweet, and in an interesting manner not at all my feeling of summer. It does convey summer very well, but it doesn't convey my summer at all, and it's interesting to find one that feels so different. The book is a sort of rambling series of vignettes about a six-year-old called Sophia and her dying Grandmother, who live on an island in Finland. I was rather amused to find the foreward was written by Kathryn Davis, who wrote that book called Versailles that I keep meaning to finish and that I just discovered I have two copies of.

North and South was lovely. I was not at all expecting it to end in quite the way it did. I don't mean in terms of plot, but it always rather interests me to see how people choose to wrap up a book. Whether in a long happily-ever-after sort of paragraph, or a vaguely pretentious sounding philosophical statement (my usual ending of choice), or a bit of rather amusing but apt dialogue. And I was surprised to find North and South going the way of the dialogue. It doesn't strike me as something that usual appears in Victorian literature. Anyway, I am quite confirmed in my fondness for Elizabeth Gaskell, who even when writing about grey dreary Milton, still seems to make everything terribly charming.

Once again, I find myself not particularly entranced by Narnia. I listened to Prince Caspian on tape in one go while sewing, and kept being completely astonished by how fast it went by. Yes, it's a short book, but most books that short take more time to do everything. I can just imagine what Tolkien would have done with it, and seem to remember that he never much liked Narnia. He had the same sort of complaint I do. After the vast mythology behind Lord of the Rings, Narnia comes off as flat. I think I would have liked it better had I read it when I was eight or nine.

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