Today I finished reading Sons and Lovers for the Outmoded Authors Challenge (post to follow) and haven’t started another book yet. I thought I’d take stock and see which books have been hanging around, lurking in different piles waiting to be read.
Currently I’m reading:
1. Lewis Carroll by Morton Cohen. This is a long and detailed biography and I read some each morning, so it’s taking me quite a while to finish. I’m just over half way into the book.
3. Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve read quite a number of these and will carry on until the 31 October at least – that’s when the R.I.P.II Challenge finishes.
I’m still dipping into is Body Parts by Hermione Lee. I came to a full stop with Thomas Hardy: the Time-Torn Man by Claire Tomalin and Michael Palin’s Diaries of the Monty Python Years some time ago. I still intend to read the latter two books, but they have been pushed to the sidelines. I may go back to one of these now.
Body Parts: Essays on Life-Writing is a very interesting to book to read, especially in conjunction with reading biographies and memoirs. Its about the relationship of biography to fiction and history and also about the writing of biography. When you think about it it’s obvious that because biographers are trying to reconstruct a person’s life from different sources – letters, diaries, other people’s accounts etc that the end result although it may seem as if it is factual, is an interpretation and quasi-fictional. So much has to be assumed. As Hermione Lee writes “Biography is a process of making up or making over.” I bear this in mind as I’m reading Cohen’s biography of Lewis Carroll. There is so much in it that Cohen has read between the lines, without any real solid evidence to support it. Cohen asks questions when it isn’t known what Dodgson’s feelings and opinions were and although he writes that these are ‘almost unanswerable questions‘ he does speculate and suggests answers, prefaced with‘perhaps‘ and questions such as ‘what if?‘
Body Parts includes essays on Shelley’s Heart and Pepys’s Lobsters; Virginia Woolf’s Nose; Reading in Bed; and Jane Austen Faints. Ill go into more details in another post or two (or more). It’s good stuff.