Monday, March 24, 2008

Serious post to come soon, but for now...

Ok, I've been writing this post, comparing "Battlestar Galactica" to Gericault's The Raft of the Medusa (no, really!): it's got references to a Canadian Catholic author, G.K. Chesterton, and other important cultural icons. But it's taking a while. And in the meantime, I've been reading like a maniac.

I've decided that my reading style is "Serially Obsessive." I have tried to be Studious, and Considered, and Discplined, but without much success. When I find an author I like (happens at least twice a month, minimum), I read everything I can find by that author. One summer it was Chesterton. Last time it was EdgarRice Burroughs. And now it's Robertson Davies.

Allow me to clarify: I don't just read an author for a while then move on. I read their works obsessively for a while, then move on to a new obsession, but I still read and love the works of the author. For instance, I haven't obsessed over Chesterton in about a year, but I still read his books and enjoy them.

Anyway, this month's obsession is Robertson Davies, a Canadian author. I had read his book The Rebels Angels in my first year or two of college, and it stayed with me, though I could never decide whether I liked the book or not. Then, last month, I got a copy of his book Murther and Walking Spirits: it's next on the reading list for my church reading group.

I'm not sure what it was about the book that struck me. For lack of better words, I'll say it was the atmosphere and texture of the book. It felt like taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood you grew up in, in the gloaming of a warm summer night: bittersweet, funny, nostalgic (though not sappily so), and quintessentially human.

So of course, I went on Amazon and bought five of Davies' other works: The Cornish Trilogy, The Salterton Trilogy, The Deptford Trilogy, The Merry Heart (a collection of essays), and For Your Eye Alone (collection of letters). Right now I'm in the middle of Bred in the Bone, the middle work of the Cornish Trilogy (The Rebel Angels is the first in that trilogy, and I definately liked it the second time around). It is a delightful book,and Davies is a joy to read. There's something irrepressible in his writing, a passion that sometimes seems almost like a devilish glee. His observation of human life is astounding, and there's a real drollery there, too.

You can find a fine collection of quotations from Davies here:


James said...

Reading obsessively is fun! I think that there's actually a discipline in reading exhaustively from one author at time. It allows you to come into contact with them and dialog without distraction. My wife and I found this when we spent a year reading all the completed works of Tolkien strait through (Not the minor works, reference works, or fragments). The converse discipline is to intentionally scatter your reading across several distinct authors from different eras so that the mind stays flexible and is continually exposed to its own blindspots. I try to do this with my religious and academic reading with varying levels of success (I love the 19th century).

Marcy said...

I like the quotes! Especially the "wet wit" one, and the one about book lovers (and their worldliness), and the pity about the voice of God needing so much revision. I haven't finished Murther yet, but the quotes have re-enthused me. (=

xander25 said...

I have the exact opposite problem. I am far too easily distracted. I naturally do what james says above. Typically, I'll jump authors without even finishing a book. No where is this more apparent, then when studying philosophy. It's something like, "Oooh...Plato says this"..."but Aristotle says this"..."No, C.S. Lewis says this"...such is the story of my life.

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