So they’ve been tidying up the Company’s extensive collection of books, plays and whatnots over the summer – and, as has become the case these past few years, everything and anything that isn’t in Italian has been set aside for me.
And I really mean anything: I once ended up with a book of plays in Serbian. Nobody had an inkling of when, how or, more relevantly, why on earth it had landed in the Company’s library – but, quite regardless, it went in the “Clara” box. That I don’t know a single word of Serbian didn’t seem to matter much. For the record, the book is still somewhere in my shelves – obviously unread but there… Continue reading
I am looking for a book.
“Well, you are always looking for a book – or three,” my mother said when I told her – and she isn’t entirely wrong. But the fact is that, this time, I’m a bit stumped. Even the all-encompassing Internet, so far, isn’t helping much. Continue reading
You know those moments – those moments when a book speaks to you? When you read something that might have been written exactly for you to find it? Well, I had a rather peculiar moment of that kind, yesterday… Continue reading
I stumbled across Borges’s Shakespeare’s Memory a few years ago, while on a quest for memory-themed readings. And I have to say, it was a rather intricate kind of “stumbling”, because I became aware of the story only to find that, for some reason, it was the one piece missing from my mother’s supposedly Complete Works of Borges in Italian translation… Continue reading
This began as part of one of those catching-up phone calls you do around the holidays: we started with the Plague, of course (who doesn’t, these days?) and at some point, mercifully enough, we found ourselves discussing To Read Lists instead.
And the sad fact that there is never enough time to read new things – never mind reread. And yet, the yearning is there – and, before we knew it, we were sharing two very different lists of rereading wishes.
And I thought, well, why not? So here is a very short version of my list: the books I’d love to read again, had I but world enough, and time… Continue reading
It’s a Dover Thrift paperback, thin, smallish, the pages rather yellowed at the edges, my initials embossed on the right hand corner of the frontispiece… and I can’t quite remember where I got it.
Published in 1997, the copyright note says – so it can’t have been in Cardiff, much less in Edinburgh. And it can’t have been London, because I know for certain that I already had the book by the summer of 1998 – and I wouldn’t move to London (however briefly) until a whole year later… No, my small collection of Crane stories must have come from Pavia, from one of several bookshops around the University that stocked books in the original language. Continue reading
Would you object very much to some more slight gloominess? Or perhaps it won’t be so terribly gloomy by the time we’re done – but let us talk of endings and beginnings, and Stevenson. I’ve always liked this thing that Stevenson wrote in a letter written from Samoa to J.M. Barrie:
If you are going tho make a book end badly, it must end badly from the beginning.
Book clubs, now…
I know that they’re all the rage, I know that no library worth its salt can go without one, I know that they are enough of a phenomenon to have made it to women’s fiction and movies, and I know, more to the point, that lots of people enjoy them immensely. Continue reading
Once upon a time – not long after our shared College years, I believe – my friend Fenella and I discovered a mutual liking for Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley. Now I’m sure you know how Shirley is rather the Cinderella among Charlotte’s novels – her one historical, written, at least in part, as a form of escapism while her siblings died one after another, and generally regarded as a lesser oddity.
Still, what can I say? I like it, with its background of faraway Napoleonic wars, and of Luddite unrest at home. I even like the unevenness of the whole. And I like the characters – even more than the eponymous girl (a heavily fictionalised portrait of Charlotte’s sister Emily), the quieter Caroline Helstone, and half-Belgian businessman Robert Moore. Continue reading