Tuesday, July 12, 2005
around the edges of a very decent amount of work: one more Georgette Heyer novel, A Civil Contract; two novels by Susan Howatch, The Wonder Worker (the English title was A Question of Integrity, which seems to me much preferable, but I love these books so much that I'm not complaining, I just don't know why Howatch isn't better known in the US) and The High Flyer; two Margery Allingham novellas--and Allingham is another writer who's unjustly little-known nowadays, I'd say, though it's the Albert Campion novels that are really amazing, there is something uncanny and striking about her writing that you don't find in Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh or the other classic period detective novels of that type--published under the hopeless title Deadly Duo (seriously, how pitiful can you get?); and a random Ian Rankin novel that happened to come my way. Why am I reading things I've already read before, in some cases a LOT of times before? Well, I've got some more interesting and challenging stuff waiting around, but I don't want to distract myself from the eighteenth-century stuff that's living in my head right now (Defoe, Rousseau, Smollett and Jefferson primarily, with a hint of Virgil's Georgics and also some crazy interruptions from Timothy Nourse, a minor obsession of mine, plus the odd interlude in which I try to develop a grand theory of culture and think about Jethro Tull and the new agriculture and Raymond Williams--here's the syllabus for the course where I tried some of this stuff out last fall). Better to read things I know I like and that have the charm of familiarity. Rereading is one of the great pleasures in life; reading a fantastic new book a second time is almost better than reading it the first time, the first time round I always feel like someone is going to wrench it away from me before I can finish & deprive me from ever experiencing the rest of it, whereas I can relax a little more when I read it again. Very strange.