Books 2010

Books 2009

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Monday, 23 March 2009


I am glad I was able to post my answer to Dark Puss; I still had that "we can't accept this data" answer when I cliked on the "post" button.

To Dark Puss
Dear Dark Puss, thank you for your answer.
From what I can see, you changed your mind after rereading again what you once read, whereas Mr Bagshaw always loves rereading what he loved reading. I guess these are the two different alternatives in rereaders. I have no personal opinion on this, as I don't use to reread (well, not yet).
What I was hoping for was more the opinion of the feline on how right Colette is about animals... Personally, I still liked how Colette describes them, and tries to imagine their thoughts(!). The only questionable thing is that she is apparently convinced that cats are sometimes disdainful, scornful and contemptuous. Cats are just cats, no need to interprete their behaviour on the basis of human patterns. But at least, I now know that cats need a fair retreat from the world from time to time, just like you!

To Mr Bagsahw
After I liked reading Northanger Abbey, I am considering rereading Pride and Prejudice although I don't think I will change my mind about it - you must have some influence on me, I am afraid!
I think Northanger Abbey has definitely a Flaubert-ish twist while Pride and Prejudice has more of a Balzac-ish twist; the former is very focused on the heroine and I saw Catherine Morland as a young Emma Bovary who wants to make her way in life and is very thoughtful about the right strategy to her purpose. And the latter (which is in fact the first novel, of course) aims more at depicting the early C19th social classes and how people rub shoulders and mix (or not) within and outside the class they belong to. Well, of course this is to be confirmed (or not) after further reading.
One last thing, dancing bears are now officially and thankfully forbidden by the UE laws. Seal hunting is still allowed though.

On Colette:

It is always tricky to revisit books, particularly those you read in your teens. I re-read, rapidly and in English, a number of her books. I had forgotten how autobiographical her novels are, and of those I read I liked "The Ripening Seed" a great deal - probably I appreciated it more after the passage of many years of adult life than I did when I was about the age of Phillipe.

I'm not as passionate about Colette as I was 30 years ago, but I'm older and less of an enthusiast about many things. I still think she is a great writer about people and emotion and wonder why she is not much more widely read in the UK.

What better setting than Hamburg, cosmopolitan, beautiful but scarred and still despite reunification feeling like a border city, enjoying its mercantile opulence but uneasily aware of the dark, poor hungry hinterland. I need a Le Carre immersion, I think.

Your review is so nicely written and we can easily feel how passionate you are about this author!
When it comes to spy stories, I prefer to watch the film rather than reading the book though. No doubt I would have opted for the film.
Paul Auster has written very beautiful and moving pages about his father too. I hope you'll come across them one day, but I don't want to influence you on this.

To Dark Puss
I just hope the lovely Cat is still with us and not at all far away on the distant horizon, as he announced it lately. Well, anyway, a cat always comes back home.
Please miaow me something about your Colette reading; are you done with it and what is your opinion about her? I am really interested in knowing what you do think.

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  • Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the disovery of readings he had not conceived but which are then prompted by his readers. (Umberto Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose)
  • ... relatively few persons in London ... can afford the luxury of one or more servants. No fewer than 3,700,000 have no servants at all, and of the half million that have servants 227,000 have only one. (The Times, 6 June 1895)
  • Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations. There is a French widow in every bedroom, affording delightful prospects. (Tyrolean inn brochure, according to Gerard Hoffnung)
  • (A doctor is at an elderly relative's deathbed) "The old sawbones, eh?" he bellowed ... "Just in the nick, perhaps. Haul the old girl back by the short hairs, if you ask me. Devilish smart at his work ... Always take a fence with more confidence when I know he's out with us."
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Godkin's mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all. The machinery just whirs for a while, and that is the end of it. (P G Wodehouse, Heavy Weather)
  • ...the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Laurence took his grid (Kipling, The Five nations)

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