Monday, August 2, 2010

On vacation. Plus: forthcoming on Wuthering Expectations

Away for a week.  Back Tuesday.

Which will give me four days for Margaret Oliphant's The Perpetual Curate (1864), hardly enough.  One day overview, one day of Oliphant the Modernist, one day of Oliphant the Postmodernist - then just one day left.  Quick summary:  As Good As Trollope.  Oliphant pulls off some surprising effects in this novel.  One example - there's a character who hates the pattern of a carpet, and this turns out to be a legitimate and necessary part of the workings of the plot.  A delight to see how Oliphant works this out.

Maybe after that, some of Ivan Turgenev's early fiction?  Since they're so short, I can read a bundle of them.

Then it will be time for Herman Melville's Clarel, or pretty close.  I'm reading his first book of poems now, Battle Pieces and Aspect of War, and am shocked - genuinely - to find them completely accessible, not at all obscure, or not particularly so.  Some basic (or basic plus) knowledge of Civil War history is helpful, I suppose.  Maybe I'm all wrong about Clarel.  Maybe it will be a breeze.  Ha ha ha!

I want to spend some time with some of Melville's contemporaries, too.  Mark Twain, for one, but also some other poets.  Emily Dickinson, maybe.  An aged Emerson.  Frederick Goddard Tuckerman?  His poem "The Cricket" is, I am told, the greatest 19th century English poem.  Take that, Jack Keats!  That'll take a week right there to sort out that crazy talk.

Everyone please have a nice week and read some nice books.


  1. Because of my own work I often think of poor Melville, being called into his publisher's office with hopes of some success, and being told instead that they were pulping him.

    He deserved, and deserves, much better.

  2. It sounds like you are going to get some useful enlightenment while you are relaxing. A very interesting selection