Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


End of May reads

Slowing it down over the last couple of weeks, I devoted a good half to a reread of Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, prodded by a group read instigated over to that lit forum. It had been more than 30 years since I had last (and first) picked it up, and, while smitten by the narrative bag o'tricks, I hadn't returned to it other than obliquely (through the movie and A Sentimental Journey [which well surpasses the Shandean traversal of France, to my mind the least of the volumes], both a few years back). Back then, the only source text with which I was familiar was Locke (and bits of Pope and Swift [and Shakespeare]); this time I returned with most of the referents under my belt (including Cervantes, Rabelais, Montaigne, some of Burton's Anatomy), but, for the most part, there they stayed, as what is best in the narrative does not depend upon its sources but on their contextual re-use, how fit into Sterne's seemingly ramshackle construction. At least for me, but it may well be that I had assimilated and internalized the fun to be had with systematics way back then at my first reading; the second go-round didn't seem to add much, and of that mostly at the margin.

So far as rereading goes, there are very few such on my Bookshelf of Good Intentions. New translations are the most likely to make it there (as did Elsworth's Bely's Petersburg and Burgin & O'Connor's Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, as will Calvino's Complete Cosmicomics when available here this fall). Of course I've reread many of my favorites (but not everything that's come out in the meantime); what remains on the BoGI at the moment are Foucault's Pendulum and Moby-Dick.

Other reading:
as mentioned, Olga Tokarczuk's House of Day, House of Night, the place of conscience and the conscience of place, in post-war Silesia (and as with Sterne, a fitting bracketing of a month that began with Hrabal);
Les Murray, New Selected Poems, yes good but I don't think of Nobel quality, too parochial;
and currently in the midst of The Poetry of Derek Walcott: 1948-2013, powerful stuff.


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