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The Reading Room : Topicality and Escapism — 7 Comments

  1. I hope your remoteness will help keep you safe. It is hard to count our blessings knowing how many people are suffering, but it is still important to count them. On my walk yesterday I was enjoying the fresh air, but then started to think how lucky we are to know the illness is not carried far on the wind. In Shakespeare’s day I doubt they would have felt sure the fresh air was safe to breathe.

    I’ve never read Camus’s book, but I have a copy of Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, and I re-read some of it when news of the virus broke out.

    • D > Were it carried on the wind we really would be in trouble, here! Isjall look out for that Mary Shelley : it’s not in the anthology we have. We wish you wellness and wiseness!

  2. Nice post! Books can fill many roles—comfort, adventure, information. Where would we be without them? I, too, am reading two classics: “A Tree Grows in a Brooklyn,” a sharp, unsentimental story about a young girl growing up in poverty in—you guessed it—Brooklyn. And, Somerset Maugham’s “The Moon and Sixpence,” loosely based on the life of Gauguin. I really like the first book and wonder what took me so long to read it. But boy do I hate the racism and misogyny of the second, which I am reading for a virtual book club sponsored by our library.

    • J > Somerset Maugham is one of my favourite writers ; but whilst I do admire the craft skill of his writing, and the powerfully described contexts, I do have to make allowances for his time and culture. I find it worth doing so, because then it is possible to get a fascinating insight the times and places of which he writes, in particular the colonial far-east between the two world wards, or the east end of London. I don’t identify with his narrators or protagonists, I just find the stories completely absorbing. Worst for cringe-inducing are the James Bond movies until the Daniel Craig era (and even then …), and most mainstream films from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

      • I agree. While I loathe the narrator in “The Moon and Sixpence,” I certainly am not bored. The story pops right along. And, yes, we do get a fascinating insight into the times and places of which he writes. And those early James Bond movies…holy cats!!! Ditto for the mainstream films from 1950s to the 1970s. I have taken a decided dislike to Cary Grant, who always seems to be slapping a woman or threatening to do so. Those books and movies remind us that not all change is bad.

  3. Books are both a comfort and a source of information at this time. Mine are largely all still in boxes, but I can’t wait to get them out and revisit old friends. I know that we can get information via the internet these days, but for me there’s an especial kind of pleasure from an old book by the fire. I’m glad that you’ve got a new source of reading material to keep you going this year, and I wish you all the luck possible with getting through this unprecedented time. ❤️

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