Sunday, May 02, 2004

Bloom + book[Assuming I can get this to work on blogger, but if it goes all redex on me, click on it and the link should work]
Legoland commands you to read!

Um, right. I don't know, but this just seems rather odd. But I can't figure out why it should be. It's probably because it's someone from the film of the book, where the filmed version is much more prevalent than the book. And the film is only one version, one interpretation, which is likely to have overridden any personal and subjective interpretations that the intended audience of this campaign can make. If this is what Legolas has been shown to be, how can he be anything else?

Not that it's bad to encourage people to read, it just the advert seems strange. But adverts for unspecified books, for the concept of books, have always seemed slightly archaic. Libraries are institutions, on about a par with churches. Rather outmoded, occasionally striving to be cool, trying to appeal to "the young people"[1], invariably failing with comedic effect, they are yet another facet of life that is largely ignored except by a devote core. Their omnipresence and permanent lag behind other factions of society, mean that whilst being derided for their irrelevance, they are perpertual havens. The hushed half-abandonment, seen as their greatest weakness, is the appeal of them. It fits the traditional clichéd pattern of only being missed when it's gone (but why did that become a cliché?).

[1] If you wish to appeal to "the young people", don't call them that.

And carefully segueing along the theme of reading, Andrew Black at Southern Cross posts a list of books which one is supposed to have read [and then promptly ravages the biased nature of the list]. Um, I don't appear to be doing to well.

Listed books I have read:
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre3
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights3
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby1
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World1
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird1, 3
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago1
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet1, 3
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels2
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace1, 2
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn1
Voltaire - Candide2,4
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple3
1. Worth reading. 2. Gets repetitive after a bit. Author bangs home the same idea a lot. 3. Eng. Lit. GCSE course texts. Only very good books survive and remain liked, the rest are loathed. 4. Read purely so I could know what the "Panglossian paradigm" was about (and no, I didn't read it in French).

Listed books I have started, and have yet to finish:
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales 5
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans5
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles5
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
5. Copy of the book disappeared before I finished. But Hardy might not have been completed anyway, as I found the Mayor of Casterbridge such slow going I didn't finish it [continually having to look up words in the back doesn't help].

Listed books I am reading, and intend to finish:
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Melville writes sentences which are even more complicated than most of mine. Which, coupled with the theatrical tone, can in places render the characters and plot in a slightly obtuse manner.

Listed books I have a copy of somewhere and intend to read:
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath

Listed books of which I've seen the play, the film or the adaptation:
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
I am aware some will class this as cheating, but given two of them were written as plays, it'll do for the time being.

Things I've learnt from reading these books. Modern authors are less likely to mention the book as a narrative during story than those from past centuries. They are also less inclined to stick philosophical debates into the book, whether through the characters or simply as a statement of the author's opinions.

Books that should be on the list:
Seth, Vikram - A Suitable Boy. Any book which can make me think of the characters in the book whilst going round Montserrat, must be quite good [there was a mango connection].
Banks, Iain [possibly M]. Not sure which book, but a very good story teller, and incredibly imaginative.
Tolkien, JRR [or whatever his initials are] - The Lord of the Rings. It may be a rehash of assorted Norse myths, but it is quite well done.
There ought to be others, but as I tend to hover around the level of Terry Pratchett and Dick Francis (or if regressing Arthur Ransome), perhaps I shouldn't continue.

Scanning the list - there seem to be quite few books I haven't read, but by authors I have [Dickens, Eliot, Hardy, Hemingway, Steinbeck]. How do I manage to pick the non-essential ones? Admittedly there are several books and authors of whom I have never heard.

But fortunately I needn't worry, as AB's complaint undermines the importance of the list. It is so nice to realise that even people who do English degrees aren't too keen on The Colour Purple Woman - I just assumed I had simply not got something on a major level, hence thinking it was a dire book (admittedly I probably didn't get something important).

Giving up the books theme, I've happened across yet another blog, only this one's actually worth reading. A biochemist in Stuttgart [2] writing about a variety of topics. He also claims he's not the astronaut. Go read (before I try writing in German, which as I always get stuck on the "einen - delete as applicable" bit, is probably not a good idea. Anyway all I can talk about is hospitals and budgerigars [3]).

[2] Which reminds me: I must find out how the biochemist I know is doing in Frankfurt. Must also get round to looking up which one is Frankfurt.
[3] And the betting MS Word corrects my attempt to spell that: 1/1. The betting the suggested word is burger-bars: 4-1, bugbears: 7-1, budget-cars: 15-2, buggeration: DNQ, budgerigars: 100-1.

Bloom, books, biochem and budgies, oh, maybe this post isn't the miscellany it appears.
PS. Wow, the spell checker actually worked, and the only word it offered was the birds. By the way, did you know that the concept of a budgie does not exist in the German psyche - but there is a German word for it. It’s just that no German I’ve met has a clue what it means, even when explained [but why have you small yellow birds in the house?]. Wellensittich, das ist sehr nützlich, jah?

PS. Checking the spelling of the budgie word [I missed a t], and discovering that maybe the only Germans I've quizzed on the matter aren't very knowledgeable, as Google can find 83,000 results for it. Aber hey...Ich habe kein restlich Deutsches. Wo ist das Krankenhaus? Ich bin getrunken, naturlich. Alles ist wunderbar!
[Can you tell I only did a year, and the two bits I remember most were "du fickst kinder und essen irhen schiesse", though apparently fickst is not a real word, but I've no idea how to spell it - but you can guess what it means (babelfish puts it as "bumsen", which does not translate back). The other bit is "maidensaft", though I'm not sure of the spelling. Again guessable And both of these were in the textbook, albeit written in biro]. Hmm, I think I ought to stop now.

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