Thursday, March 17, 2011

What one literary work must you read before you die?

This question shocked and then scared the hell out of me, so much so that I had to check out the culprits involved. But believe it or not & I have done extensive research (looked at their about Torturerpages & profiles)yet it appears THE LADIES OF THE BLUE BOOKCASE & their accomplice DEBBIE NANCE are not state licenced torturers, yes I know it surprised me to, I mean, just look at the that question.

What one literary work must you read before you die?

 

So here I am stuck in my own room 101, or gently promenading several circles of Dante’s hell, wondering do I go default setting & grab the poetry, maybe The Collected Poems of  Lawrence Durrell or Crow by Ted Hughes, but I’ve discussed them ad infinitum. Then it must be works of prose, some fantastic book such as Orwell's “1984”, but if you read this then you have to read Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” & if you read that then you must read “Island” Huxley’s answer to his own work. My mind bounced off authors like some deranged pinball machine-Camus, but if you read Camus, you read Sartre and if you read Sartre you can’t forget the missus (Simone de Beauvoir) etc. etc. etc. Confused, with one of my headaches coming on, I retreated to the corner, thumb in my mouth I faced the wall and muttered Library, Library, Library, Library like some mantra, or a charm to ward off danger. Then I thought LIBRARY, could I sneaka reader on reading alberto manguel a library in as my answer, not just the odd book, BUT A WHOLE LIBRARY.

Now I know why I dislike reason, I’d almost convinced myself of the soundness of my logic, when reason stuck it’s opinion in like some old busybody and said  “that it wouldn’t work & that I was Stupid to try it”.Then a light shone, it’s golden shaft of heaven zeroed in like a messenger of the Gods and……………….Not really, I checked the books next to me and saw the solution to my dilemma, Alberto Manguel’s, “A Reader on Reading” ,this book is about books, about reading, this book is a walled garden and has the ability to destroy curses. On reading the first chapter of this book, I went on a quest (Amazon) in search of more of his works, this book has so many layers, that it would allow many readings, with new nuances discovered every time……. Also this man read to Borges, I mean sat down and shared words with Jorge Luis Borges.

30 comments:

BookBelle said...

Totally must find myself a copy of this one. I hope you're recovering from your near nervous breakdown about choosing ;-)

I have a hard time choosing one book at a time too.

Belle

Em said...

Haven't you just read this one?!
I'll keep the recommendation though!

dragonflyy419 said...

Headaches aside you made a great final choice :)

petekarnas said...

I will look for "A Reader on Reading" looks like a great choice!

Jillian said...

A great compromise. I love reading books on reading. :-)

parrish lantern said...

@BookBelle: Hi bookbelle, yes thanks I had a good glass of single malt & went to bed hugging a book & that calmed me down thanks This book, It's a must for any any reader & by reader I mean anyone who believes books are as valid a form of nutrition as proteins/vitamins.

parrish lantern said...

@dragonflyy419: Thanks, This Is a fantastic book by a writer whose erudition is only passed by his passion, George Steiner, described him as "The Casanova of reading" it's worth a punt on that reason alone.

parrish lantern said...

@petekarnas: with your liking for books containing writers essays & the like, I think this could be an author you'll really like.

parrish lantern said...

@Em: Hi Em, yes you caught me out(image of me sloping off shamefaced) But that was the point I was attempting in my convoluted way to make, That every book you read is a chain link, one author begats another etc So picking a single book is nigh impossible they all have their links. But sitting at my desk I realised this very subject is discussed in this book ( a bit like " if on a winters night - Calvino) .

Risa said...

I'm rather skeptical about reading a book on reading. But then again, as you've mentioned, if it's good it's likely to help you peel the layers in a text...in which case I'm off to see if I can find an excerpt on A Reader on Reading. I'm open to being convinced.

Tom C said...

It would be nice to read the whole of Proust's Recherche de Temps Perdu (in English of course) but at the rate I'm getting through them I probably won't make it before I die

mel u said...

with my greatest respect


I would like to invite you to consider participating in

Irish Short Story Week-3/14 to 3/20

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

What a thoroughly enjoyable post! I decided that I just had to read something new to me before I die...

Monica said...

I had noticed this book some time ago.... will add it to my tbr list. I mean, if the guy sat and shared words with Borges.....

Em said...

Ah! Calvino! He was my choice for this week.
As you say, it's impossible to pick one up...

parrish lantern said...

Hi Risa,this book is partly a book about books, about reading, it's part memoir part definition but written with such passion & erudition that it's a fantastic joy to read.

Hi Tom, Did so many years ago (in my french phase)although in english, if you do find time, set aside the time soley for it.

Hi Mel U, will check this out & see if I can find something relevant, thanks for the invite.


Hello As the Crowe Flies and Reads. Thanks, I think i chose this one because it's like a library.


Hi Monica, read to borges, imagine sitting down & reading books to Borges, then discussing thoughts on said book, this writer is fantastic & worth checking out on his own merit, but he sat & absorbed ideas from Jorge Luis Borges, that must have had some effect.

Hi Em, Well we both share a love of Calvino's books, as well as an appreciation of his humour.

James said...

Great choice - I have this beside me and have read some of the chapters, at least some of them in a slightly different form. The first chapter, "A reader in the looking-glass wood", is a revised (updated?) version of the opening chapter of Manguel's 1998 essay collection, Into the Looking-Glass Wood. Which makes me wonder how many authors revise or rewrite their books for subsequent editions. Two examples from my personal reading that I will never forget are John Fowles' revision of his great novel, The Magus, and Stephen King's expansive rewrite of his not so great novel,The Stand, which I thought went on too long in its original version. Have you any favorite or not so favorite reads that were subsequently revised by the author?

Sharon Henning said...

It's one of those hypothetical questions you shouldn't allow yourself to get sucked into. I mean when is that going to happen unless you're terminal and have a week to live? I'll read as many books as I like and not worry about it.

leeswammes said...

Oh dear, what a trouble that question caused you! I like your solution though! It's a book I've heard of and it sounds interesting.

parrish lantern said...

Hello James, the answer is a straight forward yes, After Babel itself went through a complete revision with added bits an expanded intro & notes. It's what happens when you buy a battered old book, love it & replace it with a shiny new version (Well sometimes)

hello Sharon,and in being hypothetical, I thought i'd have fun with it. If it was a terminal situation such as man- flu
or something similar i'd probably give up reading & sulk & whine.
ps loved all those Irish tales on your page.

Hi Judith, it is a great book & one i will definitely reread & reference, in the short time since I've read i have already used quotes from it, several times.

winstonsdad said...

geat book Gary ,be near top of my list of books to choose ,it is hard to choose just one ,all the best stu

kinnareads said...

Excellent and ingenious. A whole library, indeed. Manguel's book is on my wishlist. Must really read it. Thanks for the reminder.

bibliophiliac said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your tantrum, and think your final choice is a dandy.

IngridLola said...

HAHA. Our secret is revealed! Luckily we look nothing like little cartoon torture guy, haha.

Kathmeista said...

Hahaha your description of your book choice breakdown had me in stitches. Love it. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. I love your book of choice- looks like I'll have to find me that one...

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Really, really scary to see my name posted here in all caps after the word "accomplice." Honestly, I'm a lovely sort. Forgive me. The question caused me all sorts of pain as well, if that is any consolation.

parrish lantern said...

Hi Stu, this writer has a fantastic body of work, am waiting at the mo for his book on Homer.

Hello Kinna, it also contains a fantastic list of descriptions on what would make an ideal library.

Hi IngridLola, Yeah fair cop, none of you look like the cartoon guy, but you try & find appropriate pictures of female torturers.

Hi Kath, thanks for the laughter? It's a great book.

Hello Debbie, glad to see the dilemma was faced by yourself as well.But was a great question, regardless of my petty whinging/ moral angst.

Mari said...

See I went with a predictable classic... I like that you picked a book that you want to read!

Kelly said...

Your post cracked me up! It was actually a really tough question to answer though. And scary to think about how many books are out there that we'll never ever read!

Jeremy said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog earlier today! I found your response to be very amusing!

I don't think I've ever read a book about reading before. I might have to take a look at this title and see if it has any interest for me.