Stuff I learned this week.

It is not a great idea to start reading Proust in the middle of the busiest fall of all time.

Also Swann is The Worst.

30 October 2019

Letters to Lady Jane Pawlet VII.

My dear Janey,

I have been meaning to tell you for some time how much I admire your conversation skills. Although I think highly of all you cats adeptness at communication, you in your lyricism, your range of tone, the texture of your chatter, are positively eloquent. I can hardly imagine a day without your regular running commentary.

I do think you probably gossip a bit much, but then you do live with a lot of drama.

Yrs elocutionarily,

E.

27 October 2019

True drama.

So it turns out that plays are sorted in the non-fiction category in my public library catalogue. I’m assuming this is a common library thing but also I would love to know the rationale behind the categorisation.

Unless this is how I learn that The Mousetrap is Based on Real Events.

26 October 2019

This week in books (19-25 October 2019)

Marcel Proust  In Search of Lost Time, vol. 1. Swann’s Way. Trans. CK Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. Modern Library, 2003.  Giant Tome. 304/606pp.

I am far behind on my Proust, but did you know there’s no deadlines for reading books for funsies? Swann is apparently in live with Odette, not Gilberte. Swann is a bit of a rake, I think. Who is Swann in the narrators life? We still don’t know.

W.B. Yeats. The Poems. Ed. Daniel Albright. Everyman, 1990. Poetry 215/845pp

Ah yes, we have finished the series of poems Yeats writes about Mabel Beardsley while she was dying of cancer. I think, in this situation, I probably wouldn’t enjoy a poet hanging about writing on the inevitability of my death? MB also apparently loved collecting dolls and there are A LOT of strange doll poems around this sequence. It is a strange time.

25 October 2019

Chatty birds.

I was walking my doggo friend earlier this week. The neighbourhood where she lives is full of old trees that have half shed their leaves at this time of year. One of the trees was full of crows.

I know a group of crows is a murder, and that these birds stir a seasonally delightful mix of eerieness and melancholy around the end of October. I get that same thrilling sense of desolate awe when a lone crow’s sudden caw punctures the air as they take wing just above you.  But when I hear dozens of disparate overlaid caws and responses from a murder roosting in a single large tree, the sound becomes more friendly and musical. I always imagine these large communities as extended families, reuniting for a gabby chat at the end of the day, laughing at all the pranks they played. I love hearing them caw to each other in the mornings, probably at some of the household who are late sleepers who don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.

I mean, I know crows are carniverous hunters and sometime bullies to other birds and small mammals and toads and invertebrates and occasionally to humans. But I love their creativity and problem solving and mostly their massive extended family gatherings. I love that their music is part of the neighbourhood soundscape all year round.

24 October 2019

 

Digital Romance

I started reading Mary Wroth (aka the Countess of Montgomery)’s Urania last month. It’s a 17th-century prose romance I’ve read segments from for classes and exams, but never read the all the way through — mostly because, like most prose romances, it’s several hundred pages not got great modern editions. My library privileges are pretty limited right now, so I didn’t check to see of there’s even an outdated modern text — I’d never be able to finish it qothin the borrowing window — so am instead reading it digitally in its early printed text form. It’s nearly 500 pages in blackletter font.

It’s an extremely fun text, and everything I’ve heard or read about it is fascinating. It’s a joyfully queer, proto-feminist text that is also just a wild, delightful adventure. But I’m currently struggling to read it because I don’t exactly love reading on a screen (I view fun reading as a break from that kind of thing).

I think I need a printing sponsor. Is there such a thing?

23 October 2019

From ‘Swann’s Way’ (Proust)

This time he had distinguished quite clearly a phrase which emerged for a few moments above thr waves of sound. It had at once suggested to him a world of inexpressible delights, of whose exostence, before hearing it, he had never dreamed, into which he felt that nothing else could initiate him; and he had been filled with love for it, as with a new and strange desire’ (296)

Proust is not very good on action but if you want to revel in lucious description of intangible sensory experiences he’s the fellow for you.

21 October 201o