Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Marking, etc. Time

As a teenager, I read somewhere that you should read all of any author you really like.

I began with Percival Christopher Wren, who, fortunately, only wrote 3 novels: BEAU GESTE, BEAU SABREUR, & BEAU IDEAL. (Why? I’d seen a B&W film of the 1st. ) I even compiled a little notebook dictionary of the Arabic terms used in italics in them. (Stumper: a sidi of the bled.)

I then went on to Mark Twain, reading every book of his in the little branch public library in West Lynn. This year is the centennial of his death (21 APR 1910) & all the lit.supps contain treatments of his life, e.g. by his sartorial imitator rightwing proseur Tom Wolfe (in the NYT.) Ken Burns has now done a very thorough TV bio that reveals Twain as a shell of his public persona at the end, having become what the triumphant imperial world would tolerate as its court jester, leaving him profundly dark at his end. When the USA finally truly accepts & admits (never embraces) his last works, it will be a grimly sobering & possibly even liberating day.

Years later I would make an annual attempt on Turgenev, beginning with FATHERS & SONS, assigned to me personally during my Senior year in Xaverian prep-school by Bro. Kyrin Powers CFX; it quickly changed my life. I've tried again, for the nth-time to finish the 14 vols of Turgenev I’ve amassed, including The ESSENTIAL TURGENEV reader (884pp). Wish me a half-Polack's luck.

Years later than that, I read all of Erich Maria Remarque, beginning with ARCH OF TRIUMPH (also a film, twice).& have recently re-read his last novel, SHADOWS IN PARADISE (set in postWW2 NYC & Hollywood.) He's been pretty much my match. I leave it to those of you, who like me, were born in the mid-20th cent. to determine why.

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