First time for everything – even participating in Stream of Consciousness Saturday.
This week’s theme is ‘book title’. I try always to have a ‘proper’ book on the go and make a point of reading at least a few pages every day. I spent a couple of years working my way through the Guardian list of the 100 greatest novels in the English language. Although I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I’d already read close to half of them, it was still quite a commitment, even after I narrowed it down to just British authors, but I made it.
Some proved to be a real trudge, however: ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley was probably the low point, closely followed by D H bloody Lawrence (‘The Rainbow’). On the plus side, both Disraeli ((‘Sybil’) and, especially, Somerset Maugham (‘Of Human Bondage’) were unexpected pleasures. I just couldn’t face ‘Clarissa’; or ‘Little Women’.
Which brings me to my current project: ‘Moby Dick’. I remember having read this when I was quite young and loving it (although I say so myself, I was quite a precocious reader when I was a lad) but have always had the nagging feeling that the version I read then was one designed (i.e. ‘edited’) for children. As it’s so highly regarded in the canon, I thought I’d go for the full version, now I’m all growed up.
I wish I hadn’t bothered. This song by Sade isn’t of universal application (Hell, no), but I’m afraid it’s spot on for Herman Melville:
I’m on the last 50 pages – so no spoilers please (anyway, I’ve seen the movie) – but after a promising start ((Ishmael and Quequeeg meeting up) it quickly descended into far more than I ever cared to know about the anatomy of cetaceans. I’ve heard that the ending’s quite good, but I’m rooting for the whale and looking to move on to something that comes closer to being a page turner.
Jane Austen (‘Northanger Abbey’), don’t fail me now.