mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Important Books

Meme: This can be a quick one. Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

This gave me trouble until I realized that what sticks with me most is poetry. Then it was easy.

Also that very little 'sticks with me always.' Most books that I liked or enjoyed were visits to a foreign country. Red Chambers, Papuwa, Karin, Discworld, Basara, The Idiot, Look Homeward Angel. Nice to be there for however long, but then I came home. And if it's not a passing state it's an ingrained one. Stuff I read young and subsumed unthinking so that I don't consciously register its influence any more.

1. Pride and Prejudice, Austen
-- archetypal stuff

2. Tales of the Heike
-- the selected Good Bits. This and the following were the quintessential handbook on How To Live (and Die) Aesthetically

3. Pillowbook of Sei Shonagon
-- essence of Heian

4. Stormbringer, Moorcock
--only that it remains the benchmark for 'long ago and far away and infinitely strange.' Doesn't read like that *now*, of course.

5. End of Term, antonia Forest
-- probably 'has stuck', so that the way I write will always be influenced by the way Forest wrote.

6. Sanshiro, Natsume Soseki
-- essence of Meiji

7. The Ides of March, Thornton Wilder
-- stylistic influence, again

8. Guards, Guards, Pratchett
-- more the Vetinari archetype than the book itself

9. Housman, Collected Poems

10. Shakespeare, Hamlet
-- and more archetypal stuff

11. Wang Wei, Poems

12. The Wayfarer-- anon Anglo-Saxon poem
-- how to feel sorry for yourself in a dead language

13. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
-- alas, but true. Its rhymed couplets drive me buggy now but. But.

14. Kou Josei series
-- for certain definitions of always. Anything Manchu gets referenced against that. Vocab, mostly, for the imperial exams. Very useful

15. Silverlock, John Myers Myers
-- supreme example of the kind of shout out/ allusive work that I love so well. Is probably why I love shout-outs.

Meanwhile I read Liu Bei soliciting Zhuge Liang to his cause. 'I am a poor bumbling inept general and you are a young scholar who knows nothing of the world. But you can sing fifty versions of Barbara Allen (= know all the folk songs in The book of Odes) and several other unworldly scholars speak highly of you so of course you're able to direct the destinies of nations ohh please come to my aid and save the Han.' I mean I *know* the civil service here takes people with any kind of BA and looses them on the diplomatic world: but they start as junior secretaries and learn the ropes gradually. Same with MPs and their staff. No one thinks a Ph.D in English Literature qualifies you to be on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ils sont fous, ces Chinois. (toc toc)
Tags: 3k, meme, reading

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