Classics,contemporary fiction, Politics, Philosophy, Economics - a weekly eye on The New Yorker & The Guardian and dense word style/play.
There is a bit of an Eliot renaissance going on at the time of re-reading The Waste Land and Four Quartets with the launch of an app which gives access at the touch of a screen to the final draft, the Ezra Pound-annotated version and early drafts, various audio recordings of eminent readers and a video performance by Fiona Shaw together with hyperlinks to all of the background references on which the poem is built. It all makes me envious and inevitably I think back to the hours and hours that I spent in the University chasing one reference to the next moving from shelf to shelf and reading around and losing the overall sense of where I was in the poem. Oddly, I think the act of physically walking around a library is a good metaphor for the approach to The Waste Land - an app is a little too straight-forward. Yes, you immediately get access to all of the relevant information. But, more to the point, what is not ‘relevant’ does not appear on the screen in front of you. Having the time to get lost in literature is one of the great pleasures of being a full time student. I never left the library without my full complement of six books to be taken out at any one time. Reading from start to finish and following the complete works was a particular discipline and a diminishing pleasure - but following up a particular reference on a particular point was - and still is - the source of real excitement. Knowing that any reference can be entered on Google and fully explained narrows this and I’m not sure that the result is nearly as satisfying. Given that we live in an age of closing libraries is it too much to link the rise of the app with the decline of the inter-library loan? Best always to get back to the original text which, as a reader now at the age at which Eliot as the writer was when he wrote - only serves to broaden and deepen the emotional response to the words.
The stories are crackers of course, but the narrator is portentous and slightly self-important which I found annoying. If you like a stately type of narration, it might be ok.