Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Three Short Books

In the spirit of the year's ending, I've been trying to finish as many books as possible, for various reasons. The last three books of the year (there's really no chance I'll finish another before the end of the day; I have a New Year's party to go to) are all quite short, but I enjoyed them all rather a lot.

We begin with King Lear, which I suppose doesn't really count as a book; it's a play, written by a nice fellow you may have heard of. I read it mostly because the third season of Slings and Arrows sees the New Burbage Festival putting it on, but also because I am on quite the Shakespeare kick. I watched the BBC's Derek Jacobi Hamlet yesterday, which was quite good (though ridiculously long, at three and a half hours). I had not been previously acquainted with the story of King Lear, apart from a vague recollection that oh, yeah, that's the one where they pull the guy's eyes out. Anyway, it was very enjoyable, and I was rather surprised to find several very familiar quotes in it ("O, reason not the need"). Apart from that, it got me thinking about how susceptible I am to dialect in books and films. I don't know if it's more than most people, but every time I watch Monarch of the Glen I start thinking in Scottish, I watch Torchwood I think in Welsh (not the language, obviously). Reading Storming Heaven, or The Beans of Egypt, Maine, I started thinking in those dialects to a rather alarming degree. I read Shakespeare or watch it, and for about twelve hours afterwards can't stop my syntax from going Shakespeare, or my word choice. Funnily enough, I watch a film with English dialects, I don't usually start thinking in English. I think it's because I watch so many English things (very nearly to the exclusion of all else) that it sounds almost completely normal to me.

Discussing the various essays I wrote for college applications with my Senior Lit teacher, she mentioned that the way I write is very distinctly influenced by Victorian literature. I know this is true, especially in writing a formal essay, and frankly I rather like it. It would be interesting, I think, to compare how much literature has influenced the way I write and speak with how it has influenced someone else.

Yesterday, I got The Tales of Beedle the Bard from the library, J.K. Rowling's new book. On one glance at the margins I said to my mother, "I'll have this finished in an hour," and I was almost exactly right. It was very short, but rather pleasing, and the stories all rang true as proper fairytales--it is possible to write a fairytale and have it come out sounding like something else.

I've been reading Five Children and It for months, on and off, ever since I brought it home from the free book table at school, and just today have I finished it. The funny thing about reading E. Nesbit is that I never read her as a child, but I did read Edward Eager, who is so alike E. Nesbit, but who came after her. In my mind Edward Eager came first, but I feel as though actually I did read E. Nesbit just because I might as well have. I have the same sentimental attachment to her writing as I do to books I read when I was young despite having never read her, because she's so like other books I did read, Edward Eager's and even to some extent Arthur Ransome's, which all epitomized what I always wanted my childhood to be like. I wanted to be an early 20th century English child, with about three siblings. I still want that. It's a lovely book, anyway, because it plays to everyone's childish wishes; even adults still subconsciously wish for all the sorts of things the children ask of the Psammead.

This was a very rambling post; I shall now end it.

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