Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Reading List

So I finally got around to finishing Don Quixote. It was strange because the first 600 pages took me forever. But once I got over halfway, I tore through the remaining 490 in relatively short order. Smollett's translation, despite being from the 18th Century, was quite a treat. It seems to magnify the Don's absurdities if anything. The book itself is quite a pleasure to read. So much of it is episodic and so you can read one adventure and leave for a while without struggle to retain all kinds of detail. All you need to know for the next one is Don Quixote and Sancho will be the ones facing it. Far better critics than I have thoroughly disected this book, so I won't deal with it too much in the critical mode. I have to say though that I agree with the suggestion that Cervante's exploration of perception and reality has, in way or another, probably shaped all our subsequent prose fiction.

The new prose fiction is The Manticore by Robertson Davies. This is part of the Deptford Trilogy that also includes Fifth Business and World of Wonders. So far it's shaping up to be very much about Jungian psychology in some ways. It does include though Davies' usual reflections on small-town Ontario, critique of the Canadian psyche, and his little side-interest in absurdly antiquited medical practices. Poetry continues to be The Poems of Paul Celan by, you guessed it, Paul Celan; and non-fiction continues to be Training in Christianity by Soren Kirkegaard.

Side note: Kirkegaard is one of those guys with names where it's almost not worth mentioning the first name. Could you imagine someone saying, "Oh no, I'm not reading Soren Kirkegaard, I'm reading his cousin, Gus Kirkegaard. Gus wrote about cockfighting, not that philosophy stuff."