Monday, March 7, 2011
Reading in instalments
I belong to an online reading group that specialises in 19th century literature. At the moment we're reading The Ordeal of Richard Feverel by George Meredith. Meredith was one of the towering figures of 19th century literature but he's virtually forgotten nowadays. I've read his poem, really a novel in verse, Modern Love, & I've had a Virago edition of his Diana of the Crossways on the tbr shelves for years so I'm enjoying the nudge that this group has given me to pick up one of his novels. The group has been around for years so they've read all the usual suspects - Austen, Brontes, Dickens, Trollope - & I love the breadth they've brought to my reading with many authors I've never heard of or not read if I knew of them. Recently we've read a couple of novellas by the German Romantic writer, Theodor Storm, Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, E T A Hoffmann's Devil's Elixir & Scott's Bride of Lammermoor. Coming up this year are Joseph Conrad's Almayer's Folly, Tolstoy's Death of Ivan Ilych & Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser. Now that I have an e-reader, I've also been able to download most of these books for free although there's nearly always an edition in print for those without an e-reader.
Few Eggs & No Oranges & Thomas Hardy's A Pair of Blue Eyes. I'm not reading Vere because I've read it twice already but I am reading the Hardy. I read it about 20 years ago & have forgotten everything about it so it's like reading a new book. Our discussions are usually fairly laid back & sporadic. Nothing formal but it's nice to know that others are reading along & occasionally someone posts a comment.
Team Tolstoy read of War & Peace. I read War & Peace over 30 years ago. It took me months as I kept putting it down for something lighter (in weight) & shorter. This time, we're reading it in monthly instalments of about 120pp to celebrate the centenary of Tolstoy's death. I'm loving it. We meet up on the 9th of every month to talk about the latest instalment & we're half way through now. I find it best to read the month's chapters on the weekend before the 9th so I sat down on Saturday afternoon & read the whole lot in almost one sitting, I couldn't put it down. The current section ends with Pierre gazing up at the comet in the sky above Moscow, the comet of 1812 that presages so much for all the characters & for Russia. It was very difficult to stop just there... I regret not joining Lynne for her monumental read of Ulysses a couple of years ago. I think I could have climbed that mountain if I'd had the courage to begin.