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parrot_knight [userpic]

Hobbyhorsicality

March 23rd, 2007 (10:32 am)
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current music: Chicago SO: Holst, 'Venus, the Bringer of Peace'

I finally finished Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy this week. It has been on my list of books to read for many years, marked with a hypothetical highlighter because it's an eighteenth-century work and this is 'my period' (I've read very little eighteenth-century fiction, not even finishing Tom Jones); I bought a copy on my last day on at TGW, making use of a discount for the last time, but didn't get round to starting it until Christmas. While the first four of the nine books are hugely entertaining, and there are great ideas - particularly the rendering of the plot as a series of lines in chapter XL of book VI, I feel the lack of an eighteenth-century classical education acutely as a scholarly knowledge was necessary to get all the jokes, and checking the notes at the back changes the exercise into something less relaxing. Nonetheless I could ride several hobby-horses alongside Tristram's Uncle Toby and his father, Walter Shandy. Though we never learn much of Tristram, the narrator, the fact that he is too busy telling the reader of his uncle, his father, and many other digressions along the way complement some of my own musings on identity as something imposed from without; without the eccentricities of the departed older generation Tristram, who narrates book VII from a retreat in the south of France where, like Sterne, he was battling consumption, perhaps feels empty and overshadowed by his own mortality.

gervase_fen visited yesterday and left behind him the first fascicle of G.W. Dahlquist's The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. This proved the most involving piece of fiction I've read in some time, providing layer upon layer of questions - there is a detailed scene which the reader is led to expect will provide exposition, but only makes clear that there is a wider context which we do not understand. The heroine of the fascicle, Miss Temple, is admirably resourceful and presented as a mixture of naivety (perhaps a little studied) and inner fire. I look forward to the rest of the adventure.

Comments

Posted by: Adilo Creamon (the_marquis)
Posted at: March 24th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)

RTD was in last Sunday's IoS: interviewed for some bit on music in the magazine, would you like it?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 24th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
arthurelaineletr

I missed that! Yes, please.