Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence

7.8.07

My top ten, and what of them I haven't read

The 10 20c authors (alluded to in prior post) I've chosen below are those I've been compelled to read just about everything that I could get my hands on; not necessarily the best of what the 20th century has to offer (though I think there's substantial overlap). But I haven't read all that each has offered, anyway (and only of that in English translation, as applicable) -- what follows is what's been left out so far:

Nabokov: Top spot in my book. Yes, I've even read the plays (indifferent though they are) and the translations (Igor, Lermontov) (not to mention copious secondary material), with only one monumental work left: Eugene Onegin was to have been a summer project, but other reading interceded. Actually, I once breezed through the Text (V.1), but a proper reading with the Commentary (V.2) awaits.

Borges: Alastair Ried's translations of unselected poetry, the out-of-print collaborations (excepting The Chronicles of Bustos-Domecq), the interviews.

These two stand apart, not only through their own writings, but also in extending my reading through both critical essay and literary allusion.

The 3IE:
Joyce: Finnegans Wake still intimidates from the shelf.
Beckett: Nohow On, Happy Days, and the miscellany.
O'Brien: The Poor Mouth, for fear it suffers in translation.

Pynchon: maybe the occasional NYRB essay, is all.

Eco: Of the fiction, none unread. Of the rest, of what's in print and aside from children's books: Kant and the Platypus, History of Beauty, Thomas Aquinas, Joyce, and I've only really browsed A Theory of Semiotics & Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language.

OuLiPo:
Queneau: Exercises in Style (a self-imposed constraint).
Perec: on nupraisal, nomissions.

Kafka: Amerika, though it's been a very long time since I've read the longer works.

Were I to add a poet to the above, it would be Pessoa (without omission in translation); a playwright, Stoppard (a few missed, most notably the latest); a critic, Bakhtin (not Volosinov/Medvedev, if that counts) ... and if he doesn't qualify as philosopher, then Wittgenstein (Remarks on Mathematics, lest it mess with my dayjob ... more anon). But among the 'greats' (those on just about every top ten list, except here, since it's my accounting of tastes, and I don't deny the greatness of e.g. Woolf or Faulkner), it's only Proust I haven't cracked (yet).

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, but if you haven't read Proust you haven't read anything.

Proust is quite simply the greatest writer of the 20th century and your candidate is too far behind to even eat Proust's dust.

I've been at my re-read of Proust for 2 & 1/2 months now and am only in Book 3. Why rush a good thing?

18/8/07 12:01  
Anonymous Condorcet said...

Proust, Schmoust.

Less Pomp, and more pulp, pops. You sound nearly WF Buckley like. Pynchon's COL 49 is fun (as are those NYTRB essays--the "Luddite" piece about as fine college-boy Trotskyite scribbling since Orwell hisself).


Kafka is quite intense, however slavic and Other-like he probably seems to American mall-rats. We try the "Verwandlung" in Deutsch. Not too schwer.

Joyce was mad. I am quite sure of it. Defrocked Irish priest, drunk, whoremonger, who knew Latin inside in out, & Aquinas and Aristotle, french realists perhaps but mad, twisted, ugly. Not really a genius, but just a UberHack. Ulysses sucks. Even good pulp--Chandler, Hammett, Pynchon, PK Dick, Crane, EAPoe superior.

9/10/07 14:05  

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