Anxious Mo-Fo

An anxious m*********** from Seattle

What I’m reading

with 2 comments

Recently finished:

The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles.
The Odyssey, also translated by Robert Fagles.
Last Evenings on Earth, Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris Andrews.
Metamorphosis and Other Stories, Franz Kafka, translated by Michael Hoffman.

Currently reading:

Borges: A Life, Edwin Williamson.
The Divine Comedy, Dante, translated by John Ciardi.
Metamorphoses, Ovid, translated by A.D. Melville. (Once one reads Metamorphosis, the obvious next step is to read Metamorphoses.)

Books abandoned, at least for now:

A Secular Age, Charles Taylor
The Solitudes, John Crowley

Dante’s poem starts when he is midway through his life’s course, or (Ciardi tells us) at the age of 35, halfway through his Biblical threescore and ten. That happens to be the age of this reader. (Unlike the Dante of his poem, I don’t get to see my enemies punished in Hell, nor do I get to add to the eternal torment of any of them.) I have to admit that my interest in The Divine Comedy is waning now that I have finished reading the Inferno, and am embarking on the Purgatorio. I am, however, persistent and, as everybody knows, Dante is good for you.

Written by JPP

August 15, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Books

2 Responses

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  1. Metamorphosis is good stuff. Taylor’s masterwork is Sources of the Self. Dense, that one. On balance the former may be a summary of the latter.

    Indeed, “Dante is good for you”. Should put that on a t-shirt, actually.

    The Necromancer

    August 15, 2008 at 1:38 pm

  2. Metamorphosis is good stuff! The last time I read Kafka was in my early twenties, and he went right over my head. Kafka has one sick sense of humor.

    A Secular Age is a good book, but, while it doesn’t presume knowledge, many topics are described in such a way that a reader who doesn’t already have some familiarity with the issues is somewhat at sea. He’s generous enough to provide summaries for readers who are not familiar with the issue under discussion, but I felt like I was missing a lot as I was reading it. I’ll probably come back to it later.

    It seems to me that reading Dante is a more interesting way of understanding the medieval mind than some of the alternatives, in the same way that reading Ovid is a more interesting way of reading up on Greek and Roman mythology than your average academic study. I wish that I understood him well enough to catch all the different levels he’s writing on, as opposed to trusting Ciardi’s annotations.

    If you put “Dante is good for you” on a t-shirt, I’ll be your first customer.


    August 15, 2008 at 2:50 pm

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