Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My first post in more than a year

I was hesitating about returning to this blog, having lost my enthusiasm for it, but now I feel I can return. What have I been reading since the last time I posted? Well, I've taken to reading collections. I have completed since last week the entirety of the Pleiade collection published by Gallimard, and plan to keep up with their new publications once a year. I read all of The Great Books list, which was popular in the sixties. I also read Yale's English Monarch series, which I began as light relief but which proved much more politically minded than I expected. I read all the Harry Potters, just to see what the fuss was about. I embarked just this past week on a list of the Western canon, not the 100 book list set by Harold Bloom, but the massive 700 book list loom produced. As a result I am reading the best novel I've read in some time, His Daughter, by Yoram Kaniuk. I find myself back in Israel, after 20 year. It is very keenly observed.

I still regularly read The Economist, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The Utne Reader. I still re-read some of my favorites for relaxation.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mags, Cambridge History, Newman

Since my last post I've read 4 issues of Eclectic Reading, two issues each of The Economist, The New Scientist, one issue each of Esquire, New York times Magazine, Chatelaine, The New Yorker, The Star, The Globe, The National Examiner, and The Examiner. I also read volumes 5,6 and 7 of the Cambridge New Modern History, and John Henry Cardinal Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua. I am now reading the Cambridge histories in philosophy, in particular the first, about Hellenistic philosophy. Certainly makes me realize I know nothing about Hellenistic philosophy in general, even I have read many ancient Greek philosophers.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Free-Thinkers, Best-Sellers, Fantasy

Since my last post, I've read an issue of The Economist, and an issue of The National Enquirer.

I have also read a volume of authors who wrote bestsellers in the XVIIIth century in France, and that was fascinating in itself. The most popular one was about the loves of nobles at the English court. I also read a collection of books from free-thinkers, about magic, about sexuality for women, etc. Two of them were written by the actual Cyrano de Bergerac, later immortalized in the rhyming play. Finally, I am reading the second volume of a collection of fantasy novels written by Germans in the XIXth century. That also is fascinating -- it gave rise to a whole current of literature that I knew about, having read many fantasy novels, but about whose roots I knew nothing. Who knew?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reaux, Valery, Sade

Since my last post, I've read an issue of The New Yorker, The Economist, The New Scientist, and two issues of Eclectic Reading and The National Enquirer.

I've also read the complete works of Sade -- astounding how repetitious that gets. I also read Historiettes by Tallemand de Reaux: it was like the memoirs of Saint-Simon, except it was all anecdotes that were salacious or funny. I also read Paul Valery's notebooks.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Since my last post, I've read Hello Canada, two issues of GQ, The National Enquirer, The New Scientist, the Utne Reader, and Eclectic Reading. I also spent the day reading the essays of George Bernanos in the are of politics. I admired the style of his writing, fulsome and elegant, but not the content, which is very dated. He felt strong about war and France, of course, I mean, he died in 1949. I couldn't get much enthusiasm up for the next volume of Pleiade yesterday, but I am more motivated now...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Casanova, Andersen

Since my last post, I've read an issue of Eclectic Reading, an issue of Life and Style, an issue of Vogue, and an issue of Cook's Illustrated.

I finished the three volumes of Casanova's memoirs. It seems to me that he fell in love collectively with women. He is discrete as to the actual sex, except for remembering the place and the length of time they had -- from 1/2 an hour to 4, in most cases -- and it's really all about the flirting that got him to sex in the first place. The memoirs are surprisingly charming, but what a frivolous life, however famous he was for it! After that, I also read a collection of Italian Renaissance short stories. They were split between the moralistic and the bawdy or funny, but there were lots of both. Once can see the influence of the Decameron. I must be on 5 000 pages of what was once considered risque or erotic, and much as I hate to say it, I'm getting bored.

I am now reading the works of Hans Christian Andersen, about 175 children's stories, of which the most famous are The Princess and The Pea, and The Little Match Girl. I am also reading his autobiography, which is revealing of his writing process.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bataille, Casanova

Since my last post I've read an issue of Hello Canada, an issue of Vanity Fair, an issue of The Economist, three issues of I, two issues of The New Scientist, an issue of The Globe, an issue of The National Enquirer, and two issues of Eclectic Reading.

I also read the novels and stories of George Bataille, famous for writing erotic stories in France. This is still La Pleiade, and I have to tell you, to him erotic means dirty. I mean literally, the characters are forever slathered in mud, for example. In a few spots, the writing is extraordinary, but for the most part I yawned, disappointed, through it.

I have also started the memoirs of Casanova. Yes, written by him, in French, at the end of his life. The introductory essay refers to his 122 conquests. Someone counted? Anyway, they are so far quite charming. What an adventurous unusual life, however crabby he was at the end of it.