“It was awful, he cried, awful, awful! Still, the sun was hot. Still, one got over things. Still, life had a way of adding day to day.”
- Virginia Woolf- Mrs Dalloway (via fuckyeahenglishliterature)
I saw that Murakami's 1Q84 was on your list. I loved it, though everyone else I know found it too strange. I was wondering what you thought of it.
I read Books I and II a couple of summers ago, and whilst I did find them pretty strange (and a bit of a departure from the Murakami I’d loved so much in Norwegian Wood), I did still want to read Book III - which is a pretty good sign, I suppose!
I think it just depends on where your preferences lie; I’m not that into fantasy/sci-fi stuff, and found a lot of it straying into that realm, with only Murakami’s incredible prose style keeping it afloat. But if that kind of stuff is your jam then you’re much more likely to enjoy it. I realise this isn’t a particularly impressive insight, but there we go.
My review of Books I and II is here, and once III is read I promise to post a review of that, too.
“I can’t think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people’s understanding of what’s going on in the world.”
- Seamus Heaney
Yes hello I am useless
I’m not entirely sure why blogging has so completely fallen by the wayside this semester. Maybe it’s all the Old English, maybe it’s because I’m not desperately trying to procrastinate while writing my dissertation. Maybe it’s something to do with this being my final semester at St Andrews and attempting to make the most of it (in real life, y’know?)
Maybe. Anyway, whatever the reason, it’s no excuse. So I’ll keep trying. Frequency may well remain down, though - just a warning.
PS, I accidentally started rereading Harry Potter for the thousandth time, noticing all sorts of interesting things. Perhaps a post on that will follow. Perhaps.#book blog #harry potter
Took advantage of Waterstones’ 20% off weekend by buying the two heftiest books I could find (on a strict pages-per-pound budget over here). Also enjoyed their sarky signs - they know their audience.
There Is No Word
#Tony Hoagland #poetry
I know, I disappeared for a bit - but this is why. This semester looks HEAVY, y’all. My Old English module is of especial concern; lots of translation, and partly assessed by creative writing portfolio - and I say this with full awareness that I am the President of the Creative Writing Society, but: Sod. That.So prepare for rather more updates from the library, featuring four different versions of Beowulf and a lot of despair.
Tomorrow morning I head back to St Andrews for my final semester, and while I’m really very happy to be going back, a part of me wants to put it off for as long as possible. I can’t quite seem to process that it’ll be the last time I do this journey up the east coast - or at least, the last time I do it because I’m heading home in this way.
Obviously I’ve had a lot of throse dreaded questions whilst I’ve been back in Leeds: So, what are your plans for after you graduate? What are you going to do with your life? What does the future look like? Do you have a PLAN, ROSA? And I suppose I’m lucky, because I sort of do have a plan. It’s just a little…contingent on other factors (y’know, things like whether I’m good/smart enough, whether my referees like me enough, whether the photo I took for my application is attractive enough).
But having a plan doesn’t seem to be quite enough - in fact in some ways it’s this plan-having business that is the very reason I’m not totally ready to get on that 7:10 to Leuchars. Because working towards that plan, and panicking about that plan, and having existential crises about that plan have served as a distraction from the thing that used to be my plan and is now my life. The future has obliterated the present, and I don’t want that to be the case. I don’t want to spend my final ever semester as an undergraduate - my final ever semester in my lovely home with my lovely friends in my lovely auld grey toon - planning. I want to soak it up and live it and be there and god, this is all so obvious and unprofound but I sort of needed to remind myself.
Anyway, the point is that I’m off to St A tomorrow. The modules I’m taking this semester are American Fiction: Self and Nation, and Old English Afterlives: Literary Anglo-Saxonism, and on the train up I will be listening to a lot of Hozier (and you should too).
[PS; I think my dissertation results are released tomorrow. Audre Lorde help me.]#St Andrews #university #Hozier
About a month ago, it was my 23rd birthday, and because I am blessed with wonderful friends and a relatively well-defined range of interests (Can I read it? Can I eat it? No? Not interested), I got lucky with my gifts. Yes, this is a book haul post. Deal with it.
So, from left to right:
So that’s all jolly nice and excellent. In three unrelated pieces of news: postgrad applications are ruining me, my mother thinks I own too many pairs of black trousers (they’re practical and flattering, mother), and brushing my hair today took almost forty minutes.
as the frank o'hara expert around here, which collection would you recommend to start with?
Haha, let’s first dismiss the idea I’m an O’Hara expert (flattering an assumption though it is). I would like to be - give me a few more years and a couple more degrees and sure, I’ll get there. Right now I’m just an enthusiast with academic leanings.
Having said that, start with Lunch Poems. Frank actually published very few collections in his lifetime - a collection of odes, a collection of love poems, Meditations in an Emergency, and this. I bought my copy at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris (because I’m a Grade-A prick), and it’s a tiny volume - part of the Pocket Poets series by City Lights Books. Garishly orange and with its original retro cover, it’s a brash and lovely little book, and therefore a perfect introduction to Frank.
Be warned: the blurb on the back was almost certainly written by Frank himself; take it with a pinch of salt - he was also a Grade-A prick.
This is almost too beautiful to read, but I guess that’s its primary purpose, really.
Review: Les Misérables
First things first: Yes, I absolutely did read this because I love the musical with a desperate passion. And no, I did not like the damn film. Please let’s not get into a fight about any of the above.
For those that are unfamiliar with any or all of its adaptations, the basic storyline (spoiler-free!) is that of Jean Valjean, over-punished bitter convict turned fugitive in search of redemption, his relationship with complex “baddie” Inspector Javert, and the context of post-revolutionary France in the run-up to the June Rebellion. That’s right kids, Les Mis is not about the French Revolution. It’s about an unceremoniously quashed student uprising against the July Monarchy. (I get neurotic about that particular misconception. Welp.)
The identifying feature of this book is, as you might guess, the length. I enjoy a good chunky tome as much as the next pretentious blogger, but good god this book is long. And it’s not just the case that lots happens - although admittedly, lots does - but also that Victor Hugo draws everything out to interminable lengths. Par example (quiet, I’m allowed to use that here; it’s a French book), included relatively early on is a FORTY-FIVE PAGE blow-by-blow description of the entire battle of Waterloo, according to which every single minor decision made by Napoleon, Wellington, an officer, a peasant guide, or a bystanding tree was the defining moment, the turning-point of history. And for what purpose? All so that Hugo can, in the very final paragraph of this thesis-length digression, illustrate that Thénardier is a bit of a scoundrel ‘cause he nicked some guy’s watch. I’m not even slightly exaggerating.
The other irritating thing about Les Mis is Hugo’s insistence on using, reusing and abusing the trope of disguising that a figure in the narrative is Valjean EVERY SINGLE TIME he is reintroduced to the narrative, and then shock! Revealing him! Not only does this become tedious (especially when it starts being used for Javert, and Marius, and Mabeuf, and whoever else), it also starts to feel like Hugo is insulting his readers’ intelligence. In every instance it’s supremely obvious; we’d already worked it out, Victor. No, really, we knew it was Valjean.
Having spent much of this complaining about elements of Hugo’s style, I actually really quite enjoyed Les Mis. Partly because I adore the musical so much and it was wonderful to have all that extra information about the characters I love best (I would read nothing but ABC Café scenes if I had the choice), but also partly because it is a truly impressive piece of literature - surprisingly comedic, surprisingly philosphical. And Hugo’s encyclopaedic knowledge of French history is admittedly very impressive.
Final Word: Worth it.#Les Misérables #Les Miserables #les mis #Victor Hugo #books #review #book review #reading #lit #literature #France #French Literature #french history #Paris
My 5-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl.
The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.)
But my daughter was determined. She liked the story pretty well so far, but Bilbo was definitely a girl. So would I please start reading the book the right way? I hesitated. I imagined Tolkien spinning in his grave. I imagined mean letters from his testy estate. I imagined the story getting as lost in gender distinctions as dwarves in the Mirkwood.
Then I thought: What the hell, it’s just a pronoun. My daughter wants Bilbo to be a girl, so a girl she will be. And you know what? The switch was easy. Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.”
Finally returned to A Place of Greater Safety after a semester of not having time for it. Archie and I are using the weak winter sun to pretend it’s summer again.