Reading List

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I find myself in a doldrums. Nothing really appeals, nothing really calls out to be read. An unusual state for me.

Nevertheless, I am reading Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies, which was recently made into a film by Stephen Frey, the name of which eludes me. Vile Bodies is very evidently a successor (I won't say sequel) to Decline and Fall and is as amusing in a mordant way. What can one say of a book that actually has someone die from an accident ensuing from swinging from a chandelier? We have the same bloated aristocracy, one of whom runs a brothel in Argentina, the same purposeless, pointless young people leading lives that are frankly appalling in their waste. In other words, Evelyn Waugh.

I'm also rereading Wilfrid Stinissen's magnificent Nourished by the Word which is a guide for Catholics on how to use the Bible for prayer.

Anna Karenina boils away in bits and pieces at home during my leisure time and Mark Lowery's Living the Good Life.

I think after this I'll spend some time with the Classics, perhaps even the most despised classics of all--Thomas Hardy--I'm thinking a visit with Eustacia Vye in Far from the Madding Crowd might be in order. On the other hand, Great Expectations also appeals at this season--a visit with Mrs. Haversham is never out of order. Or perhaps Villette or one of the lesser known Brontë sister's oeuvre. Or perhaps something else entirely by the time I get there.

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Hey Steve,

Try some of Hardy's poetry -- I find it thought provoking and insightful. While some find him pessimistic, I find him present and clear headed.

Here is one poem and some quotes:


I never cared for Life: Life cared for me,
And hence I owed it some fidelity.
It now says, ‘Cease; at length thou hast learnt to grind
Sufficient toll for an unwilling mind,
And I dismiss thee--not without regard
That thou didst ask no ill-advised reward,
Nor sought in me much more than thou couldst find.’

Here are two interesting quotes from him:

"And what is to-day, in allusions to the present author's pages, alleged to be 'pessimism' is, in truth, only such 'questionings' in the exploration of reality, and is the first step towards the soul's betterment, and the body's also."

"I include religion, in its essential and undogmatic sense, because poetry and religion touch each other, or rather modulate into each other; are, indeed, often but different names for the same thing -- those, I say, the visible signs of mental and emotional life, must like all other things keep moving, becoming."

There is a Thomas Hardy Association that has a lively poetry discussion forum. You might want to check it out.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 15, 2004 7:59 AM.

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