21 May 2009


Three Novels Reading: An Open Blog

I am in a novel reading phase. There are moments when I think that the truths I seek can only be found in scholarly texts of philosophical and political matters, and then there are other times when I think that those truths are in works of fiction, which for me means novels. And so piled about me are a plethora of novels and a pad on which I write the novels I must (re)read. I recently reread Philip Roth’s I Married a Communist , and am about one-third into TC Boyle’s The Women, a portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright as seen through the women in his life and narrated by a male Japanese former apprentice at Taliesen. But in the batter’s box:

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamzov. Several times I have read crime and Punishment, but never this final novel. But last weekend I saw a program of five one-act plays by Tony Kushner and in the final one the Brothers Karamazov was a central image. I realized that I the Grand Inquisitor is a central figure in western culture and certainly in Jewish history. And I knew that The Brothers Karamazov is an important novel that I probably should read before I depart, though the logic of the idea expressed in that sentence now escapes me.

Then Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury sits on my desk. So long since I read this novel or any Faulkner for that matter. I don’t think I’ve ever made sense of Absalom, Absalom, but recall with some pleasure reading As I Lay Dying. Of course, the short story “The Bear” is anthologized in every high school and college text, so I have åcovered that several times in my studies. Also this is a novel I will read with my daughter, whose studies as an English major return me to my own college days. Interesting to read novels now which I read then and knowing what I know now about criticism and reading.

Then . . . I hold these readings down with books I should be studying but have no faith in, or patience for, right now: Charles Taylor (all right, I did read a third thus far of A Secular Age), Slavov Žižek (Parallax View) and a new book by Yirmiyahu Yovel about the Marrano Jews of 15th century Spain.

It is all about searching somehow. And belief that somehow all of this will find some place in my thought soon.


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