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A Love of Literature

March 11, 2006

As per my narcissism post of several days ago, most of my hobbies have always been a tad poisoned by self-conscious posing. Wine appreciation, pipe smoking, chess, jazz, I’ve enjoyed all these things in and of themselves, while at the same time being aware that I’m acting like a hoity-toity (etymology haute?)…dork.

But there is one enjoyment I’ve had over the years that I’ve acquired simply and unself-consciously. Without really thinking about it, I find that I love literature. Not all literature, of course. Hemingway, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, was a moron. But lots of good literature. Tonight I had dinner with my wife and daughter and published short-story author sister-in-law. That’s why this is on my mind. She helped me decide what to read next. I told her that I thought John Updike was a genius and a pervert and I was looking for more genius and less pervert. No help there. But she did recommend I go back to Flannery O’Connor.

In case any of you care, here’s a few of my 20th century favorites. It’d be nice if someone commented, so I could sustain the illusion I’m doing more than just wasting time.

John Steinbeck, East of Eden, Winter of our Discontent
Marilyn Robinson, Gilead
Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum
Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2006 10:49 am

    real quick, does the “Winter of our Discontent” mean:

    a) the coldest hour of our lack (our greatest contentment)
    b) the dead season of discontent (our season of greatest contentment)
    c) something different all together
    d) both a) and b) and I’m supposed to understand that immediately and not be so slow about it.

  2. March 13, 2006 11:02 am

    It’s a reference to the first line of Shakespeare’s Richard III

    “Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious summer by this sun of York;”

    And I’ve always thought it to mean “discontent that makes me feel cold and dead like winter”

    Let’s see…does that make it an epexegetic genitive? The Winter that is our Discontent?

  3. March 13, 2006 1:15 pm

    whoops. a) above was supposed to read:

    a) the coldest hour of our lack (our greatest discontentment)

    “epexegetic genitive”? I’ll have to look that up. At least I get the genitive part.

    Do I have to take Herman’s Utics before I get that?

    Herman’s Utics, sold in fine seminaries, confectionaries, and apothecaries…nationwide”

  4. April 5, 2006 4:51 pm

    mmmmm…. mmmmm……


    yummy, crunchy, tasty snack!

    Unfortunately, most of those who embrace the pen also embrace their sweet little selves, and thusly it is hard to find a good genius to pervert ratio that one can live with. Reading is so intimate, that if I sit down for 3 hours with a sub-standard offering, I can come up again feeling a little sick, a little ashamed, and a lot disillusioned.

    That said, I am not fond of the 20th century authors. I found that what I really liked was 12 – 13 century stuff. Some of the things I read that were even older really captured my imagination as well. Beowulf for one. Faerie Queen for another. Chaucer. I really
    enjoyed digging in to the older language. Not really a different language, but different enough that it was a challenge and a joy to experience it.

    That’s why I read (when it is pleasure reading, not information reading). I want to experience the text. I want to glory in the experience of reading someone else’s words. And quite frankly, when someone else’s words sound like my own thoughts, struggles, issues, well… it just isn’t as fun.

    I think that’s why I like the older stuff. It is like putting on a costume, and pretending for awhile.

    What are you currently reading. Is it tasty? Is is crunchable?

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