a reader

an eudæmonistreading

2021

January

Karl Marx. The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. trans. unknown. New York: International Publishers, 1962 (1852). [11]
Far more amusing than expected.
William Shakespeare. Henry V. ed. R. J. Dorius. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1955 (1599). [10]
A curious time to read this play, and the politicking in it drew my attention more on this rereading; pairs well with Marx’s The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.
Carolyn Steedman. Dust. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2001. [9]
A thoughtful consideration of historiography, with a look at the dust of the archives and the dust of the ragman, with everything in between. Will provoke further thinking.
Ermanno Cavazzoni. Brief Lives of Idiots. trans. Jamie Richards. Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press, 2020 (1994). [8]
Not as amusing as I had hoped it would be; would perhaps have enjoyed it more if I had read it when I was younger.
Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility. Oxford: OUP, 1973 (1811). [7]
Got a bit bogged down by the extremes in the sisters moods and actions, but once the machinery of the plot clicked into gear, this became more interesting (or at least tolerable). As always, the narrator’s slight cruelties (i.e., the straightforward, neutral statement of the personal failings they either do not acknowledge even to themselves or, in knowing, wish to hide) towards minor characters were among the most enjoyable elements.
Gilbert White. The Natural History of Selborne. Oxford: OUP, 1951 (1789). [6]
A charming account of observation of the natural world, drawn out over the course of a decade or so. Very interested in swallows and house-martins (i.e., all the hirundines).
Mark Pattison. Memoirs. London: Macmillan, 1885 (Gregg Int’l. reprint, 1969). [5]
The common adjective used to describe these memoirs is ‘bitter’, but they do not seem bitter as such, but rather shaped be the author’s disappointment, particularly with himself. Although he does note the ways in which his expectations were disappointment in the course of his academic career, rather than placing the burden of blame wholly on others (i.e., the ‘bitter’ course), he places most of it on himself (and not entirely in that method of self-criticism that places the blame for failures on others) – his locus of control remains internal, although (as with many who suffer from depression) he cannot always find his way to acting in accord with what he believed to be the better parts (or potential) of his character.
Iris Origo. War in Val d’Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943–1944. New York: NYRB Classics, 2017 (1947). [4]
An interesting look at civilian life under martial law/in a war zone. Pairs very well with her early diary, A Chill in the Air.
Jane Oliver and Ann Stafford. Business as Usual. London: Handheld Press, 2020 (1933). [3]
Droll and charming, captures some of the feeling of working in a large organization. The sort of book one could also find from Persephone Press.
Nathalie Léger. Exposition. trans. Amanda DeMarco. St. Louis, MO: Dorothy Project, 2020 (2008). [2]
Charming and strange, ties with the other two pieces in the triptych, while also calling to mind the Moyra Davey essay collection; references to Zola and Duras that I ‘got’ which I might not have done a year ago.
Émile Zola. The Fortune of the Rougons. trans. Brian Nelson. Oxford: OUP, 2012 (1871). [1]
Our author does not go in for subtlety. The young couple who meet in a graveyard throughout their courtship meet the end one would expect. The narrative structure is strange with the action proper occurring over the course of a week (?) although with the flashbacks (for each group of characters) going back years in separate chapters. An odd beginning to a series (from which I have only read Nana some years ago) and an odd and not wholly satisfactory novel.

(last revised: 14 January 2021)

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