Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Family and Self

And here's the 'family and self' section, which (quite bravely, I think) squishes those 1940s Elizabeth Taylor/ Molly Keane type novels about domestic catatonia with the modernist and existentialist big guns (or those that hadn't already cropped up under 'comic'.) I think a few might contest the absence of works by Pessoa, Blanchot and Paul Auster. I would have liked to see a few more by Elizabeth Taylor, perhaps, and I'm extremely surprised not to find Elizabeth Bowen here, although they may be saving her for some uncanny/ Gothic category to come. In terms of my recent reading, Joseph Roth's The Radetzky March would have a strong case as a novel of family and tradition, and W.G. Sebald could go under either of the headings here for Vertigo and The Emigrants respectively.


taz said...

I have been avoiding the Guardian list - not sure why in particular, possibly because it will remind me how out of touch I am with real books - but I'm enjoying your commentary n it; this reminds me of an argument that you and I had about Elizabeth Bowen when I was in my attic.

I still think that book is dull. (you'll remind me what it's called, as it looks as if my copy got carted to Oxfam some time ago)

Jon said...

I've been unable, for some reason, to find the list online, but instead I started thinking about how long it would take to read 1000 novels. I guess you could do it in 10 years, reading two a week, but who has the luxury to read only novels?

And does something like Remembrance of Things Past count as 1 or 7 (both are arguably correct)?

Your comments on it have been entertaining and thought provoking as always, Joe.

Wow. 1000 novels. Where would you put them all?

Jon said...

A second thought, now that I've worked out how to read the list: If I can't be bothered to read a list of 1000 books, what hope do I have of reading the books themselves?

Joe said...

It depends. Do you have to read all of a novel? Does any form of fiction count (but of course it should)?

I find if you read the right quotient of detective novels your count goes up astronomically, whereas Proust keeps your yearly average down substantially. I read five Ian Rankin novels in a week, for example, but it seems to take me the same amount of time to negotiate 150 pages of Proust. Then, some 'literary' authors do seem to me to go quite fast, like (sorry, Taz) Elizabeth Bowen. And Zola. And most realists who aren't Russian.