Missing Cora Seaborne . . .

If self had known a Cora Seaborne in her life, she’d undoubtedly be her best friend. She and Cora would read books, argue about them, and get mud on their shoes and under their nails. They’d collect useless stuff on their walks.

Actresses self thinks could play her:

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Rebecca Hall

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Romola Garai

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Emma Thompson

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Olivia Colman

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Characters (So Far) 2019

In self’s reading, it’s all about the characters. Here are her favorites from her most recent reads (doesn’t look like she’s going to make her Goodreads Reading Challenge this year, she’s been so poky — hanging on to her translations, her intricate classic novels, her favorite book companions).

From Current Read, The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry:

CORA SEABORNE. Joanna Ransome. Luke Garrett. Naomi Banks.

Swann’s Way and Anna Karenina are books she’s read before, but her focus shifted surprisingly on second reading.

From Swann’s Way (the Lydia Davis translation), by Marcel Proust:

The narrator. Swann, always and forever.

From Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy:

DOLLY. Karenin. Kitty. Kitty’s father, Prince Alexander Dmitrievich. Seryozha. Vronsky.

It’s strange, self feels no sympathy whatsoever for Anna Karenina. Not on this re-read. Anna seems less like a real woman and more like a construct used by Tolstoy to make a point. Self hated her from the moment she advised Dolly to stick with her faithless, profligate husband. Was crowing for her fall. Wished Dolly were given a more redemptive story arc.

The character who exhibits the most growth in Anna Karenina is, in self’s humble opinion, Karenin. Because he falls in love with his wife’s child with another man. That’s quite an arc! When he shows up regularly at the baby’s nursery, and the governesses don’t know what to make of it? WAAAAH!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sunday, 10 February 2019: Currently Reading in Mendocino

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View from Main Street, Mendocino, Today (It rained all day yesterday but today was glorious)

“And hadn’t the Kraken been nothing but legend, until a giant squid pitched up on a Newfoundland beach, and was photographed in a tin bath by the Reverend Moses Harvey?”

The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry, p. 144

This is self’s first Sarah Perry book. She’s quite enjoying it.

The Reading List: THE ESSEX SERPENT, p. 52

Self has been averaging 10 days a book.

Her last two books were Anna Karenina and Swann’s Way, and her current read, The Essex Serpent, is definitely NOT a book to be rushed through.

(It was a good idea not to push through with Ove Knausgaard. She might still be stuck on Book 1 right now)

The main character of The Essex Serpent (a novel she’s very much enjoying) is a recently widowed woman whose intellectual curiosity is not looked upon kindly by the society of her time (late 19th century England). She has a son named Francis and has consulted with a doctor about his being different from other children:

  • I spoke to Luke Garrett about him, you know. Not that I think there is anything wrong with him!” She flushed, because nothing shamed her as much as her son. Acutely aware that her unease in the presence of Francis was shared by most who met him, it was impossible to exculpate herself; his remoteness, his obsessions, must be her fault, for where else could she lay the blame? Garrett had been uncharacteristically quiet, soft-spoken; he’d said, “You cannot pathologize him — you cannot attempt to make a diagnosis. There is no blood test for eccentricity, no objective measure for your love or his!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Definitely the Sentence of the Day

“I do find it absurd that a man of his intelligence should suffer over a person of that sort, who isn’t even interesting — because they say she’s an idiot,” she added with the wisdom of people not in love who believe a man of sense should be unhappy only over a person who is worth it, which is rather like being surprised that anyone should condescend to suffer from cholera because of so small a creature as the comma bacillus.

Swann’s Way

That was hilarious.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

Swann in Love: The Wearing of Monocles

  • The general’s monocle, stuck between his eyelids like a shell splinter in his vulgar, scarred, overbearing face, in the middle of a forehead which it blinded like the Cyclops’ single eye, appeared to Swann like a monstrous wound that might have been glorious to receive, but was indecent to show off; whereas the one that M. de Bréauté added, as a badge of festivity, to the pearl-gray gloves, the opera hat, and the white tie, and substituted for the familiar lorgnette (as Swann himself did) for going out in society, bore, glued to its other side, like a natural history specimen under a microscope, an infinitesimal gaze teeming with friendliness that smiled constantly at the loftiness of the ceilings, the beauty of the preparations, the interest of the programs, and the excellence of the refreshments.

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*****

  • The Marquis de Forestelle’s monocle was miniscule, had no border, and, requiring a constant painful clenching of the eye, where it was encrusted like a superfluous cartilage whose presence was inexplicable and whose material was exquisite, gave the Marquis’s face a melancholy delicacy, and made women think he was capable of great sorrows in love. But that of M. de Saint-Candé, surrounded by a gigantic ring, like Saturn, was the center of gravity of a face which regulated itself at each moment in relation to it, a face whose quivering red nose and thick-lipped sarcastic mouth attempted by their grimaces to equal the unceasing salvos of wit sparkling from the disk of glass, and saw itself preferred to the handsomest eyes in the world by snobbish and depraved young women in whom it inspired dreams of artificial charms and a refinement of voluptuousness . . .

How does one keep that glass firmly attached to one’s face, self wonders?

Stay tuned.

SWANN IN LOVE: Knowing . . .

Knowing a thing does not always allow us to prevent it, but at least the things we know, we hold, if not in our hands, at any rate in our minds, where we can arrange them as we like, which gives us the illusion of a sort of power over them.

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The heartbreak of Odette! Who in the two years that Swann was in love with her, tried as hard as she could to protect her heart.

The nobility of her doomed effort.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Really, Proust?

Despite self’s attempt to read Proust with speed, she is stalled, about a third of the way through Chapter 1. She finally realizes it is because the sentences are actually getting longer; some almost an entire page long.

She decides to try and anticipate.

Chapter 1 is not very long; it has the famous passage about the madeleine.

Chapter 2, however, is very very very long, and this translation ends with the words “raised finger of the dawn” which self regards as a terrible affront.

It may be that she closes Proust and moves on to Sarah Perry’s novel, The Essex Serpent.

Apologies, dear blog readers, for her eccentric responses to classics such as Swann’s Way!

(Self ultimately decides to continue Swann’s Way; who knows what mood she’ll be in tomorrow! It is very wet, despite the sun being out)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Proustian Sentence

from the Introduction to the Lydia Davis translation of Swann’s Way:

One friend, though surely exaggerating, reported that Proust would arrive in the evening, wake him up, begin talking, and deliver one long sentence that did not come to an end until the middle of the night.

 

 

Proust and Versailles

As self lingers over the Introduction to Lydia Davis’s translation of Swann’s Way, she learns that Proust wrote most of Remembrance of Things Past in Versailles, in an apartment on 102, boulevard Haussmann. The apartment is now owned by a bank, but one can still see the bedroom where he spent most of his writing time.

Self’s niece planned a trip to Versailles in May 2017, and self, so impressed by niece’s thirst for adventure, agreed to accompany her. The lines to get into the palace were overwhelming (and most were Asian tourists). It was hot.

But — Proust! If only she had known!

Here are a few pictures from that visit.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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