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Category: reading

  1. Obermann: A novel reading pick for your self-isolation

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    ‘In my snug little room I shall forget the world outside; I shall narrow down to my lot, and possibly come to believe that my valley is the hub of the universe.’

    20200326_152205The need to self-isolate has reportedly sent many people online to buy new books to help them through the weeks ahead. Others have surely returned to the pile of unread novels already sitting on their bedside tables. Now’s the perfect time to catch up with the reading we all feel we ‘should’ have done or have been putting off.

    One book that probably won’t be on anybody’s reading list in the coming weeks of quarantine is Étienne Pivert de Senancour’s Obermann. And yet this is in many ways the perfect self-isolation novel. It is, after all, a work that is largely about self-isolation, or at least the active pursuit of solitude. 

  2. Listening to Proust: Comparing the two BBC Dramatizations of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time

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    Proust Novel and HeadphonesThere are many barriers to entry when it comes to reading Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time. Most obviously, it’s very long – 7 volumes in the original French (usually reduced to 6 in translation) and runs to over 3,000 pages. It’s also notoriously complex. Proust’s text is written in an allusive, meandering style that requires a high level of concentration from the reader. It is, therefore, easy to be put off. Many give up after the first volume, The Way by Swann’s. In fact, you could argue that you shouldn’t start reading Proust at all, given the commitment that it requires.

    If the thought of reading this novel is a little overwhelming, don’t panic! Instead of reading Proust’s In Search of Lost Time you can listen to it. 

  3. Narrative Threads: On Following Multiple Stories at Once

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    Batgirl and the Birds of PreyThere are currently two books on my beside table: Patrick Rothfuss’ fantasy novel The Name of the Wind and the DC Comics omnibus Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Vol 1. Who is Oracle? Looking now, I can see the bookmarks in each marking the place where, too tired to continue, I last stopped reading. In my study bookmarks poke out the top of other books too – novels, works of philosophy, collections of letters and essays. I’m part way through each of these. Some I’ll return to, some not.

    I’ve been thinking about this over the last few days. I’ve realised that I’m following a large number of stories at once. I’m currently reading, playing through, watching or am otherwise invested in many narratives over multiple formats and through various channels, from novels and comics to podcasts, actual play live DnD streams, network TV series, narrative-heavy JRPGs and other videogames. I'm holding together in my memory the narrative threads of all these different stories at the same time.

  4. The BBC’s New Dramatization of Proust: Predictions and Thoughts

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    Proust Novel and HeadphonesThe BBC have announced that they'll be broadcasting a new 10-hour long dramatization of Marcel Proust’s great novel À la recherche du temps perdu, adapted by Timberlake Wertenbaker, over the bank holiday weekend of 24-26th August 2019. I’m thoroughly looking forward to it and will definitely listen to the whole sequence as soon as it’s available. 

  5. Why You Shouldn't Read Proust!

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    This year marks one hundred years since the French author Marcel Proust won Le Prix Goncourt for his book À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, the second part of his famous novel sequence À la recherche du temps perdu. On a more personal note, it’s also ten years since I was hard at work on my own engagement with Proust’s work – In Search of Vinteuil: Music, Literature and a Self Regained (Sussex Academic Press, 2010).

    To celebrate these anniversaries, I’ll be posting a series of blog posts on Proust in the coming weeks. I begin with…

    Why You Shouldn’t Read Proust!