Friday, January 04, 2008

Notes on Holiday Book Acquisitions

I packed only two books for our holiday traveling in part because I've finally learned that it's foolish to overload luggage with excess books, in part because I wanted to restrict myself to reading Proust, and in part because I knew that I would probably acquire some books while on the visit, either as gifts or through my own used book-store shopping. And so I did.

I found the following books at Moe's in Berkeley:

Gargoyles - Thomas Bernhard
The Vice-Consul - Marguerite Duras
Four Novels - Marguerite Duras (contents: The Square; Moderato Cantabile; 10:30 on a Summer Night; The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas)
The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick - Peter Handke

From Shakespeare & Co., also in Berkeley, I found a nice used copy of the King James Bible. Josipovici, in The Book of God, convinced me that I should really have a copy of this and try to spend some time with it. Happily, I was able to find one that actually looks like a real Bible, with black cover and thin pages, not one of those Penguin paperback deals.

With Gargoyles, I now have three unread Bernhard novels at my disposal (along with Correction and Woodcutters), plus the memoir, Gathering Evidence, so I have some reading to do.

I know that the Handke is not the favorite of certain readers, but it's the most well known (I think), and I'm curious. Plus, it's short, and I like the title. (Apparently it was recently reissued.)

I also received numerous books for Christmas, of course, most of which did not have to be lugged back from California:

Montano's Malady - Enrique Vila-Matas
Either/Or, Part I - Søren Kierkegaard
Critique of Practical Reason - Immanuel Kant
The Making of the English Working Class - E.P. Thompson
The Hamlet - William Faulkner
t zero - Italo Calvino
Dhalgren - Samuel Delaney
Doomsday Book - Connie Willis

Montano's Malady has been receiving praise from all the right places, as far as I'm concerned, so it was high on my list. (With a gift card, I also picked up Vila-Matas' Bartleby & Co., along with the Hollander & Hollander translation of Dante's Inferno, which I am very excited about.)

I've written more than once here about anxiety I've had towards my reading. With philosophy I've long felt a desire to read it but an uncertainty on where or how to begin. There's so much of it, and later philosophers, I gathered, built on earlier ones, so did I have to read it in chronological order in order to make sense of the conversation? I don't know, but Josipovici's brief discussions in On Trust of Either/Or made me really want to read Kierkegaard, and made him seem somehow less imposing. Kant is Aimée's favorite philosopher, so her welcome idea is that we're going to tackle the Critique of Practical Reason together.

The Making of the English Working Class fits right in with my history-reading project; I've been interested in this one for a while. In fact, I was quite surprised and thrilled to receive it.

The Faulkner, Calvino, and Delaney books are each sort of outside my short-term reading plans, but are all books that I have wanted to read, so that's cool. The Connie Willis novel is the true wild-card, a gift from my father (as were the other three). He called it a great time-travel story. Sounds like it might be fun for a break from a lot of the heavy lifting I have planned for this year (with Proust, Beckett, Kierkegaard, Kant, and E.P. Thompson possibly taking up the bulk of the year right there!). . .

And that about wraps it up. . .

6 Comments:

Blogger brandon said...

'The Goalie's Anxiety' is excellent or, I guess, I think it is. I'd be interested to know what you think when you get around to reading it.

January 05, 2008 2:01 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

wim wenders made a film of it too - although I haven't seen it.

January 05, 2008 10:13 AM  
Anonymous jordan r. said...

If you're concerned about the hierarchical nature of philosophy and its consequences toward understanding, Kierkegaard is a fine place to start. It helps to have an acquaintance with Greek thought and Hegel, but his writing is so rich in its own way that it's possible to have a completely rewarding experience without having read all the philosophers who came before him.

January 07, 2008 9:24 AM  
Blogger brandon said...

The Wenders movie is worth seeing, but I feel like it does a lot to undermine the immediacy of Handke's narrative. Reading the novel and seeing the movie however, would certainly lead to an interesting thinkpiece or something-

January 07, 2008 5:48 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

re Roth – Richard: true about many writers, but usually the 'one theme' is, I don't know, war and peace, or love, other less exclusive themes than the position of a single race in America. Which is not to say that the books are lesser somehow for dealing with that theme individually, but over the course of such a prolific career; well I don't know except what I've read so I won't make any big claims. You get the drift.

January 09, 2008 11:21 AM  
Blogger Rhys Tranter said...

'I've written more than once here about anxiety I've had towards my reading. With philosophy I've long felt a desire to read it but an uncertainty on where or how to begin. There's so much of it, and later philosophers, I gathered, built on earlier ones, so did I have to read it in chronological order in order to make sense of the conversation?'

This is a fine articulation of one of the central problems of philosophy to any newcomer. I'm in the throes of it myself at the moment, mixing classical texts with contemporary theories and gluing it all together with general introductions.

Rhys

March 17, 2009 10:37 AM  

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