Or, In Praise of Folly.
Every two years I assemble a Selected Wuthering Expectations. Best, favorite, representative? I am not sure that I know. This is what I do, Part 3.
2011 to 2012, that was Portuguese literature. Eça de Queirós, Machado de Assis, Pessoa. The week on The Maias; the 60 masterpieces of world literature of Machado; a monkey with a parasol on an elephant. Be sure to read Pessoa before you die.
A contrary cuss, I am suspicious of enjoyment, and the word “classic,” but enthusiastic about griffins. The Wuthering Expectations Lifetime Writing Plan.
Aphorisms. Science fiction. Leafcutter ants. Musical cheese.
2013 was the year – or the six or seven months – of Austrian literature. My run of pieces on Adalbert Stifter’s great, tedious novel Indian Summer was the most ambitious writing I have done. Three weeks of posts on the book and related ideas, beginning and ending with Thomas Bernhard, and dragging in Kundera, Goethe, Broch, Murnane, Hofmannsthal, and more, and all while engaging in a careful reading of the book itself, not simply piling other books on top of it, as tempting as that might be. Where else could I write such a thing?
Anyone who has developed a sudden if unlikely interest in Austria’s greatest apocalypticist: Karl Kraus week begins right here.
Acting in Uncle Vanya. Joseph Epstein on Henry James. Robert Browning is difficult. My recent and ongoing enthusiasm for Kipling begins here somewhere. How to read a Victorian novel.
I cannot emphasize enough how much I value the serial nature of the book blog. Mediocre first posts lead to inspired comments and improved ideas. After a week of writing – 2,500 to 3,000 words – I finally begin to get somewhere. At exactly that point, I stupidly jump to something new. These were fun to write and get better as they go (links to the beginning of the series, of course):
Nobody cares about Little Dorrit – she is so tiny; Hugo’s heist novel The Toilers of the Sea; Collins’s visibly deformed The Woman in White; James’s poorish story Washington Square; Zola’s poorly understood The Kill; Jewett’s domestic picaresque The Country of the Pointed Firs; Trollope’s well-fertilized Orley Farm; Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. One more link here, to the last post on that novel, about Flaubert's meaninglessness, a hidden key to Wuthering Expectations.
What fun to read with others. The big group read of The Savage Detectives was especially productive. Comb through that week for links to better posts by other book bloggers.
I did a week on W. G. Sebald, beginning with the time I briefly met him. That is an interesting example. I had not planned to write on Sebald for a week, not for more than one day, actually, but idea followed idea.
The week on ghost stories was a kind of structured improvisation. After the first day, readers far more knowledgeable than I am suggested stories that I immediately read, allowing me to instantly concoct all kinds of nonsensical theories. Haunted beds, 75% of the stories involved haunted beds. Odd.
It is common enough now to read discussions of how book blogging has changed in the last couple of years. The big change at Wuthering Expectations is that since my last anniversary I have read two hundred more books and written (or copied) 270,000 more words.
Thanks so much to all of my readers, collaborators, commenters, co-readers. Thanks to anyone fool enough to write or read a book blog.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Now W(uthering)E(xpectations) Are Six
Or, In Praise of Folly.