Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Tomes for 2011 and Beyond

Madame bovary
Bevoiard and pecuchet and/or Salammbo
War and peace
Gogol's Dead souls
Old Testament
New Testament
Anna karenina
Isaac Babel
At least one of Marquez in Spanish
Eugene onegin
Christmas tale by Dickens
At least one book of Proust
Dom Quixote
Cheever short stories
Borges selected stories
Salinger short stories
Krugman economics
Nabokov Invitations to a Beheading
Nabokov Bend Sinister
Nabokov Lectures
Mansfield Park
Tolstoy's Hadji Murad
Code Complete McConnell
Alice Annotated
Greek myths Graves

All's Well That Ends Well (1602)
Antony and Cleopatra (1606)
As You Like It (1599)
Comedy of Errors (1589)
Coriolanus (1607)
Cymbeline (1609)
Hamlet (1600)
Henry IV, Part I (1597)
Henry IV, Part II (1597)
Henry V (1598)
Henry VI, Part I (1591)
Henry VI, Part II (1590)
Henry VI, Part III (1590)
Henry VIII (1612)
Julius Caesar (1599)
King John (1596)
King Lear (1605)
Love's Labour's Lost (1594)
Macbeth (1605)
Measure for Measure (1604)
Merchant of Venice (1596)
Merry Wives of Windsor (1600)
Midsummer Night's Dream (1595)
Much Ado about Nothing (1598)
Othello (1604)
Pericles (1608)
Richard II (1595)
Richard III (1592)
Romeo and Juliet (1594)
Taming of the Shrew (1593)
Tempest (1611)
Timon of Athens (1607)
Titus Andronicus (1593)
Troilus and Cressida (1601)
Twelfth Night (1599)
Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594)
Winter's Tale (1610)

Friday, 12 February 2010

Trivialities and the Life Changing

And from Swann's Way, the ever so famous line:

The fault I find with our journalism is that it forces us to take an interest in some fresh triviality or other every day, whereas only three or four books in a lifetime give us anything that is of real importance.

Pleasure like the Development of a Photo

From Within a Budding Grove, the Moncrieff-Kilmartin-Enright translation:

But so far as the pleasure was concerned, I was naturally not conscious of it until some time later, when, back at the hotel, and in my room alone, I had become myself again. Pleasure in this respect is like photography. What we take, in the presence of the beloved object, is merely a negative, which we develop later, when we are back at home, and have once again found at our disposal that inner darkroom the entrance to which is barred to us so long as we are with other people.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Proust on Philologists

From Within a Budding Grove:
The uncle for whom we were waiting was called Palamède, a name that had come down to him from his ancestors, the Princes of Sicily. And later on when I found, as I read history, belonging to this or that Podestà or Prince of the Church, the same Christian name, a fine renaissance medal--some said, a genuine antique--that had always remained in the family, having passed from generation to generation, from the Vatican cabinet to the uncle of my friend, I felt the pleasure that is reserved for those who, unable from lack of means to start a case of medals, or a picture gallery, look out for old names (names of localities, instructive and picturesque as an old map, a bird's-eye view, a sign-board or a return of customs; baptismal names, in which rings out and is plainly heard, in their fine French endings, the defect of speech, the intonation of a racial vulgarity, the vicious pronunciation by which our ancestors made Latin and Saxon words undergo lasting mutilations which in due course became the august law-givers of our grammar books) and, in short, by drawing upon their collections of ancient and sonorous words, give themselves concerts like the people who acquire viols da gamba and viols d'amour so as to perform the music of days gone by upon old-fashioned instruments.

Proust on Lofty Men and Their Faults

From Within a Budding Grove:

But the variety of our defects is no less remarkable than the similarity of
our virtues. Each of us has his own, so much so that to continue loving him we are obliged not to take them into account but to ignore them and look only to the rest of his character. The most perfect person in the world has a certain defect which shocks us or makes us angry. One man is of rare intelligence, sees everything from an
exalted angle, never speaks evil of anyone, but will pocket and forget letters of supreme importance which it was he himself who asked you to let him post for you, and will then miss a vital engagement without offering you any excuse, with a smile, because he prides himself upon never knowing the time.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Love and Habit and Remembering

In Proust's Within a Budding Grove:

Often, our life being so careless of chronology, interpolating so many anachronisms in the sequence of our days, I lived still among those--far older days than yesterday or last week--in which I loved Gilberte. And at once not seeing her became as exquisite a torture to me as it had been then. The self that had loved her, which another self had already almost entirely supplanted, rose again in me, stimulated far more often by a trivial than by an important event. For instance, if I may anticipate for a moment my arrival in Normandy, I heard some one who passed me on the sea-front at Balbec refer to the 'Secretary to the Ministry of Posts and his family.' Now, seeing that as yet I knew nothing of the influence which that family was to exercise over my life, this remark ought to have passed unheeded; instead, it gave me at once an acute winge, which a self that had for the most part long since been outgrown in me felt at being parted from Gilberte. Because I had never given another thought to a conversation which Gilberte had had with her father in my hearing, in which allusion was made to the Secretary to the Ministry of Posts and to his family. Now our love memories present no exception to the general rules of memory, which in turn are governed by the still more general rules of Habit. And as Habit weakens every impression, what a person recalls to us most vividly is precisely what we had forgotten, because it was of no importance, and had therefore left in full possession of its strength. That is why the better part of our memory exists outside ourselves, in a blatter of rain, in the smell of an unaired room or of the first crackling brushwood fire in a cold grate: wherever, in short, we happen upon what our mind, having no use for it, had rejected, the last treasure that the past has in store, the richest, that which when all our flow of tears seems to have dried at the source can make us weep again. Outside ourselves, did I say; rather
within ourselves, but hidden from our eyes in an oblivion more or less prolonged. It is thanks to this oblivion alone that we can from time to time recover the creature that we were, range ourselves face to face with past events as that creature had to face them, suffer afresh because we are no longer ourselves but he, and because he loved what leaves us now indifferent. In the broad daylight of our ordinary memory the images of the past turn gradually pale and fade out of sight, nothing remains of them, we shall never find them again. Or rather we should never find them again had not a few words (such as this 'Secretary to the Ministry of Posts') been carefully locked away in oblivion, just as an author deposits in the National Library a copy of a book which might otherwise become unobtainable.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Flaubert on Godlessness

In 'Novelists and the Critics of the 1940s', a Gore Vidal essay, comes this quote from Flaubert:
The melancholy of the ancients seems to me deeper than that of the moderns, who all more or less assume an immortality on the far side of the black pit. For the ancients the black pit was infinity itself; their dreams take shape and pass against a background of unchanging ebony. No cries, no struggles, only the fixity of the pensive gaze. THe gods being dead and Christ not yet born, there was between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius one unique moment in which there was man.