Stuart wants to know why I am stuck in the past. To which I make the internally-contradictory response that I read a lot of modern fiction but find much of it not worth the effort. A recent exception is Simon Mawer’s ‘Glass Room’ which I thought was wonderful. Meanwhile I am re-reading 20th century classics which I haven’t read since I was a teenager, And beyond that there is Trollope – who is as sharply up to date as one could wish
Irene, whom I have known since my age was in single figures, invites me to contribute to her list of 20 all time greats – a sort of bucket list. Difficult but ..
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is one of my all time favourites because of its evocation of the horror of war. My late mother was on a plane reading – I think – the passage where the young soldiers write letters home to their mothers on the evening before the battle and was so distressed that the cabin crew asked if she required assistance,
Trollope’s Barsetshire Chronicles is remarkable because of its deep understanding of the (almost) entirely political nature of the church and the flawed nature of the clergy. My favourite passage is the description of Bishop Proudie’s reaction to Slope’s ‘vexatious’ sermon – which Mrs Proudie of course thought was wonderful. It goes (something) like this: ‘Bishop Proudie knew that if he was to speak to his wife on this difficult matter it had to be now or never – but he knew that it could not possibly be now’
Anything by William Trevor – either the short stories which are masterpieces of economy and so painful that I can hardly bear to read them – or the Story of Lucy Gault which is a wonderful description of the story of the flight of the Anglo-Irish
I doubt if the Father Ted scripts qualify but …
My first year at college I was introduced to James Joyce and William Faulkner, and I really have read Ulysses, which I don’t understand all of, but is a work of art! If I were marooned on that desert island, I might take it with me. Faulkner I love, too, and my favourite is ‘Light in August’.
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