Books Actually, just to break format for a moment, having finally finished The Good Soldier today, I'm fairly exhausted, but not elated in that way that you sometimes are when you've completed a novel and compulsively enjoyed the experience. This is difficult, difficult and like Shakespeare when first approached (and to be fair in some cases even having lived with a play for ten years), the reader will only ever get the gist of the story and as the introduction to the Oxford edition explains because Dowell's an unreliable narrator, you can't be entirely sure what's been said is even the truth. Even the few dates mentioned contract one another.
But on the upside I can finally read something like John Crace's digested classic and get the joke especially the final paragraph which perfectly captures the conclusion. I can nod along to some of Jane Smiley's review even if it omits some of the casual racism and sexism which in hindsight makes Dowell a pretty repellent figure to spend time with anyway (which I know is unfair but nevertheless). There's also this piece on Leonora which suggests I entirely misread a character who through Dowell's obsessive description seems like a would be sexual predator and driven that way by her husband's own polygamous proclivities but according to that essay a strong female attempting to pull together the threads of a collapsing existence. Unless she's both.
The project is still having the desired effect of forcing me to read some more challenging material. So far there's only been one "casualty", Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, a turgid housebrick of a volume during which I was hoping to see why Jane Austen satarized it in Northanger Abbey, abandoning it after about fifty pages having discovered exactly why Jane Austen satarized it in Northanger Abbey with its barely readable dialogue and endless descriptive passages enthusing on the power of nature. I know the book has its fans, but life's too short (frankly) so I ran directly into The Wind in the Willows instead.