Book stack

The latest pile and, blimey, I am so highbrow I intimidate myself.

So what do we have here? Unusually, a bunch of borrowed books, including (gasp!) some from a library. How often does that happen? But they are textbooks, so that’s ok. I found them in Blackwells, laughed immoderately at the price, and then went to the in house library at the office. La la la.

From the bottom up, then:

Guilty by Descent: Moral Inheritance and Decision Making in Greek Tragedy – N.J. Sewell Rutter. Inherited guilt, curses and divine causation. Oh yes, baby.

Visualizing the Tragic: Drama, Myth and Ritual in Greek Art and Literature – Chris Kraus, Simon Goldhill, Helene P. Foley and Jas Elsner (eds.). This is a collection of essays in honour of Froma I. Zeitlin, and at least one of them has ‘Dionysus’ in the title. It will turn out to be nothing to do with Bacchae, of course, but I live in hope.

Greek Tragedy: Suffering under the Sun – Edith Hall. Introductory, but it’s new so you never know what it might turn up. And I like Hall.

The thing is, if I’m ever going to get round to that MPhil, I need a topic. To find a topic, I have to get back into the appropriate academic mindspace. So, I’m hoping this little lot will start a few neurons firing.

Cyrano de Bergerac – Anthony Burgess. So, who knew Burgess was a translator? ‘Cos I didn’t. I actually did read this in Dublin, but it’s still in the pile because I need to re-read it paying closer attention. Once was an introduction, next time I’ll be getting to know it a bit better. Third time round, dinner and a movie? Let’s just take it slow and play it by ear.

The Alexandria Quartet – Lawrence Durrell. Borrowed because I’ve been chatting a bit about it, with no real knowledge on my part given that I only managed Justine. Thus, I’m a fraud. Last time I tried to read this, I was going for a book at a time. This time, I think it might be better to blast through the whole thing. As much as one can blast through Durrell, at any rate.

The Agamemnon of Aeschylus – Louis MacNeice. So, I’m in Dublin, and I’m sort of lost because I’ve been walking for hours and deliberately turning the opposite way every time I see something I recognise. The point being to stray entirely from the tourist track and see what’s hidden behind the curtain. But now I’m getting tired, and thinking it’s time to figure out where I am and maybe, as a treat, get the tram back to the hotel. As I think this, I’m passing a book shop window, but it looks like a remainder store so I’m not much interested. But, it’s a book shop so of course I look in the window. Out of 5 or 6 rows of second hand books, I spot this cover immediately, and about 120 seconds lately (which, frankly, still took too long), it is clutched in my paws and I am totally heading back to the hotel to coo sweet nothings at it.

The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century – James Howard Kunstler. Not my usual fare, you’re thinking? And you’d be right. So far, the author has not name checked any famous, expensive shoe designers or a single well known shopping thoroughfare. On the other hand, I’m pretty on board with the idea that oil is running out, there is no replacement and there very likely will not be in time to prevent social meltdown. I’m a chapter in, but this one needs to be read pen in hand, especially if I’m to be able to talk about it afterwards. Which is kind of the point.

Feast – Nigella Lawson. Slowly, slowly, gathering cookbooks, but I probably wouldn’t have bought this one for myself. I have bought a couple of vegetarian cookbooks and they’re good, if erring a bit on the knit your own lentils side of things. Particularly when it comes to baking. I may live in North Oxford but eggless chocolate cake? I think not. Coincidentally, I received Feast on the very day I was planning to make cauliflower cheese, and Nigella’s recipe worked out really well. So I spent a chunk of the evening going through the whole book, listing the recipes I particularly want to make. My thoughts were already turning towards mincemeat (I’ve bought the jars); there’s a great Christmas cake recipe too, although I’m a bit shocked at the thought of store bought marzipan and ready roll icing. Surely that’s cheating? Fatoush, stroganoff, champagne risotto. Simnel cake and chocolate Guinness cake. Yum. I just got interested in cooking all over again. Who’s coming round for dinner?

The Greek Myths – Robert Graves. It’s been years, and I’m fairly sure I only read vol 1. I’ve never owned this, and I’d have bought the paperbacks. That is a handsome cased set from the Folio Society. Proper hardcovers with a picture of Leda and the Swan, maps as end papers, linen tail and head bands. Sigh of contentment.


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I've run out of books. Again.

5 thoughts on “Book stack”

  1. The first book sounds so satisfying – Greek tragedy really is the best kind to disect and learn about.

    Please let us know how the mincemeat creation goes. I’ve made pies before (who hasn’t any rookie can do that) but I get put off by the idea of waiting ages for the minemeat to be ready and then finding it’s come out wrong.

  2. Jodie – It is, there is so much to it. I’ve made mincemeat before and it’s pretty easy. Put all the ingredients in a bowl, chuck in some booze, chuck it in jars and leave it for a few week!

  3. I took my sweet time reading The Alexandria Quartet. I started Justine in 2004 and finished up the quartet in 2009. I don’t think I would recommend stretching it that far–there was at least one gap that was too long–but putting space between them was also kind of satisfying. It allowed me time to think about them before moving on to the next one. Plus, I tended to read them in the winter months when the heat of Alexandria was enticing.

  4. What is it about fall that makes us all erudite? I sent a request to our dear friend GK to give me a list of pre-19th-century classics I might read. Then, off to Barnes and Noble I went, list in hand, looking for the likes of Herodotus. Naturally, I got side-tracked (because, I was at B & N. Did I really expect to find many of these obscure “classics” there?) by the ridiculous James van Praagh’s Ghosts Among Us (“research” for ghost story writing, of course), and now I’m reading Cakes and Ale. So much for my “fall of classics.” Maybe it will become a “winter of classics.”

    Oh, and it’s impossible to “cheat” when cooking, no matter what our purist minds may tell us. As long as it tastes good, that’s all that matters.

  5. Thomas – I don’t think I could stretch it out that long, I’d forget everything that had happened! Also, the lender may well went the book back within 5 years. But I may space out the volumes slightly.

    Emily – If you feel like sharing GK’s list, I’d be very interested. Herodotus is amazing. Cakes & Ale is a Maugham I haven’t read, but I’ve just been thinking it’s time I picked up one of his again. They are always much better than they sound.

    I am trying to get to that point of view about cooking! I don’t care for myself but I feel I’m short changing other people; who, of course, don’t care either.

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