Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Sorry, couldn't help myself

Blogs subvert Euclid: they cause intersections in what would otherwise be the parallelism of our separate lives. Relucent Reader, who frugally writes one of my must-read blogs from Mechanicsville, Virginia, recently celebrated Bloomsday, June 16, the day on which Joyce’s Ulysses unfolds. I responded. In his re-response the subjects he touched on were like a descant to my own concerns. I’m taking a one-day break from my holiday diary to re-re-respond. As Luther said: Ich kann nicht anders.

First Ulysses itself. The greatest novel ever written; alas, I am not open to negotiation on this. RR’s post confirmed that on this year’s Bloomsday I was actually re-reading the book, though being in France, I was temporarily unaware of the date. RR believes: “some passages… lend themselves to reading aloud and, at least in Boston (RR has New England connections) it was a bit of a tradition on The Day.” I shall continue re-reading with that in mind.

RR liked C. S Forester’s Hornblower novels but couldn’t get on with O’Brian (arguably a Forester evolution) from whom my blogonym is derived. He promises to “have another run”. RR is frighteningly well-read and I’d hesitate to diagnose his problem. Possibly the stumbling block is an important O’Brian theme of class differences, something many Americans refuse to take seriously.

“Never been to France, would love to some time (I should add RR gets about quite a bit), tho the Missus is less enthusiastic about the project.” Ah yes, I’ve lived in the USA and owned a house in France. How can the two be reconciled? Perhaps on the matter of friendships: Americans can be masters of the instantaneous rapport, the French tend to edge in sideways.

RR mentions Stephenson’s Kidnapped. I was using my ebook reader in France to creep up on the passage where Alan Breck takes on the ship’s crew – cited by Graham Greene as perfect action writing.

RR approves of Belgian beer and in another allusion to reading aloud (“when I had the breath”) reveals he used to do just that “to a captive audience at the juvenile detention center”.

Given the subject of my blog, I suppose I was drawn to someone writing from Mechanicsville but there is another link. RR’s initials are those of my real-life name. Go figure.


Julia said...

We read Ulysses here for Bloomsday too. A fun tradition we've held to since we moved to the continent, but I fear that as I read it as poetry (a page here or there) rather than novel, I may never finish!

Barrett Bonden said...

Bleeding chunks is OK. It's the exposure that counts. In the end it will creep up and possess you and your status as Prague Polymath will be official and unassailable.

Julia said...

I'll have to finish it then!

Plutarch said...

At first I thought that Julia had read the whole of Ulysses on June 16, and was relieved to learn that it was only a page here and there. I share her inclination towards excerpts, though I read it for the second time recenty, it was with the guilty feeling that I was looking forward to finishing it. I used to have that feeling about A La Recherche, but I have learnt now to cling to it and enjoy almost every moment. I'm glad that there is no date associated with Marcel as with Bloom.

The Crow said...

You might appreciate this...then again, maybe not. I did.


Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: In fact I did. What mattered was that the skit writer had read - and understood - the book. A rare encounter