mjj (flemmings) wrote,

(ETAmend: the temperature dropped ten degrees this aft so I now remember it was Naxos, not Delos.)

So nojojojo said: Y'know, to be honest... no movie that I can think of "means a lot to me". The visual medium has never interested me all that much. Dammit, somebody start a "Novels Meme".

I aim to please.

Name five books (I'm being wide here) that you reread a lot and that mean a lot to you. (For people like me who don't reread much.)

But you know there are far more watchers than readers these days.

1) The Pillowbook of Sei Shonagon.
Worse than sappy romances for the way it skewed my adolescent expectations of reality by imposing an aesthetic model on them (not that I knew it was aesthetics at the time.) For decades I kept trying to crystallize experience into 'the right dress in the right surroundings with the right activity and the right companion in the right season.' I still do it, bar the dress thing cause I've given up on clothes and the companion thing cause I've given up on people.

2) Pride and Prejudice
Another expectation skewer. Austen's world looked utterly rational to 15-year-old me. I expected my life to be full of rational people. Ha ha ha. Her other novels have dark and dangerous undercurrents in them (female suffocation and hysteria being the darkest and most dangerous IMO) but P&P still happens in the light as far as I'm concerned.

3) The Last of the Wine
I don't want to call this a High Romantic take on ancient Athens; I'm sure there are higher and more romantic. But it's the culmination of a view that flourished right though the 19th century and more than half of the 20th, that Athenian society was an unabashedly Good Thing. Bar little details like the massacre on Delos. Athenian society was probably nasty brutish and short for most of the people living in Athens, and Athenian policies were frequently revolting. But this is the view from the free male perspective, and done most persuasively for what it is.

4) Terra Nostra- Carlos Fuentes
I read this one when my mother was dying, which naturally lent a twisted and surrealistic light to it. I reread it a few years later and it was still twisted and surrealistic. I need to read it again just to see if the monsters are still there after 20 years. But for whatever reason I've always felt there's a kind of irrationality underlying Spanish culture, ingrained in it, as it were. This may not be fair- other European countries have had their eras of atrocity and unreason, even that most civilized of countries the Netherlands. But the French Revolution and the Nazi regime and the Dutch repression in Indonesia came as surprises in the general history of those countries; the Inquisition and the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War didn't. Dispiritingly, I seem to recall that Fuentes feels the same way I do.

5) Warrior Scarlet- Rosemary Sutcliffe
Tell me where is yaoi bred? In the heart or in the head? I'm always being surprised when I reread stuff from my teens and twenties to discover how much I tucked away, unremembered, for future use. But it's still stupid and a betrayal of the book's ethos to apply terms like 'homoerotic' to stuff like this. They're stories about people who don't have abstract terms to apply to themselves, and therefore, far as I'm concerned, the terms don't apply. That said, and even if it's a kid's book about Iron Age boys in England, man is it hot.
Tags: meme, reading

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