Archive for the ‘Amlit’ Category

The Wednesday morning Keele ‘Continuing and Professional Education’ class today featured The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885).  Hard going to read this for me, but rewarding on looking back at and through it with the group. I decided Howells – or at least as evidenced in this book – was a bit of a leftie, if not even an armchair Marxist. This last paragraph from the book seems to convey the conditions/consciousness dialectic of Marxism, as Silas reflects on whether he has any regrets: “About what I done? Well, it don’t always seem as if I done it…Seems sometimes as if it was a hole opened for me, and I crept out of it. I don’t know… as I should always say it paid; but if I done it, and the thing was to do over again, right in the same way, I guess I should have to do it.” An excellent study of social class, with observations through his characters’ actions and thoughts that are as recognisable in today’s society as they evidently were in the Boston of the 1880s.

Too long, many thought, but this may be a function of such works being first published in serialised form.

Been reading this Wall Street Journal interview a few times as it has so much entertainment in it.

Corbis Outline

Cormac McCarthy, above in 2007, drew on his own relationship with his son for his novel ‘The Road.’

Wallace Stevens

on November 14, 2009 in Amlit 1 Comment »

Some ‘readings out’ or should that be ‘reading outs’. Review of Stevens’ Selected Poems, by Dan Chiasson in NYRB Nov 19th is threatening to send me off to Stevens’ stuff, none of which I have read or if I have I can’t remember (not unusual for me, don’t think it’s because the poetry is forgettable, at least not according to Chiasson). Here’s one bit of the review I would read out: “Most people are baffled their entire lives by the problem of what to think about, so they think about whatever the moment requires.”  How similar is that to the well-known “Most men live lives of quiet desperation”? And a bit of biography – Stevens worked “his entire life as a security claims expert for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, a fact that seemed to bisect his life into two distinct regions. Poetry prospered in one by never visiting the other…”. What’s a security claims expert?

Henry James

on November 11, 2009 in Amlit No Comments »

Many  intense and wide-ranging observations about James’ Washington Square at the WEA/Keele class today, matched only by my indifference to the characters and the plot.  Attempting to identify why I just can’t get on with James’ writing I thought I’d noticed that there are no metaphors, similes or other literary and atmosphere-setting devices that make for good reading for me, then I found in the early part of this piece two such expressions – ‘desultory Dutch houses’ and ‘the murmur of trade’. Of such material is good reading made for me, so if there was more of that in James, then I might have developed an interest and enthusiasm for reading more. I was not alone, though, in finding James just so much effort for so little, if any, reward.

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