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Reading, reading, who's got the reading? Aside from the usual truckload of early readers and picture books, of course, there's been:


Enoch Arden by Alfred the Tennyson, whose plain style here only highlights how much he goes out of his way to avoid calling Enoch a fishmonger. The love triangle is believable and handled sympathetically, even if Victorian sentimentality, but the resolution is ... not convincing -- Enoch's behavior, I mean. And the final two lines are just awful. I'm still wincing. (That he was very defensive about those lines suggests he knew just how bad an idea they were.)

The Widow's Tale by Caroline Bowles (I use that name because she published this well before she married Robert Southey, but most editions use her married name). Meh. Were it not for touches of High Romanticism in the descriptions, this would not be out of place in an anthology of Victorian sentimental tales. It's instructive to compare it to Enoch Arden -- for one thing, despite all his faults, Tennyson's sentimentality is more restrained, and his plain-style poetry better controlled. This is good for its type, but when I want to wallow in glurge, I prefer it romantic over sentimental.

Three Chinese Poets trans. by Vikram Seth (yes, he of A Suitable Boy), being translations of a dozen-odd poems each by Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu. It's good to see a translator not just acknowledge the importance of Chinese rhyme, but follow through by reproducing it. As usual when this happens, what then gets lost is some end-stopping and the strict syntactic parallelism of regulated verse. For the common anthology pieces, Seth's versions are generally pretty good but rarely the best I've seen. (Unfortunately, the collection starts yet another version of Wang Wei's "Deer Park" that doesn't quite come up to snuff. Ah well.) It's probably telling that the piece I remember best is Seth's verse dedication to his Chinese professor.

Gertrude of Wyoming by Thomas Campbell, a reread. Very pretty, but seriously, the transitions are horrible to the point of incoherent. That it was written by someone without local knowledge doesn't help (hint: flamingos do not visit, let alone inhabit, northeastern Pennsylvania).

Jacqueline by Samuel Rogers, a Romantic romantic tale originally published anonymously together with Byron's Lara (also anonymously). Rogers is an interesting figure: he started as a Late Augustan but successfully made the transition to Romantic poet. The story is slight, but the Romantic manner is well-handled. The focus is not on Jacqueline herself, who elopes in the opening lines, but her father's anger and, increasingly, regret, ending with forgiveness and reconciliation. I rather like this one.

On Hold:

I Shall Seal the Heavens by Er Gen at chapter 1361, which is where the translator was the day I caught up -- in the middle of an intense battle against the protagonist's hardest foe yet. I am amused that the title-phrase incantation finally showed up about a hundred chapters back. Anyway, this is on pause till enough there's enough new stuff to binge on.

In Progress:

False Colors by Georgette Heyer, a reread. This is the one with the twin impersonating a brother gone AWOL right before meeting his future in-laws. Bouncy, bouncy, solid Heyer hijinx.


Subject quote from "Be Prepared," Tom Lehrer.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/631376.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.