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Sunday, 24 June 2012

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ULYSSES -
If you are quick and vist

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ulysses

the next few days you can down load, for free, the best adaptation of Ulysses ever made. It was produced for a 5 hour broadcast on 'Bloomsday' the 16 June 2012.

I believe free download stops in about 5 days time. It may remain on iTunes podcast shop longer
It will certainly help you when you start reading the book, which is worth the effort.

I was also defeated by Moby Dick, back when I was young and read at least a hundred books a year. I read several other works by Melville and didn't enjoy them, either. I finally decided I actually prefer film adaptations in his case (and I am not much of a movie-goer).

I'm thinking now I might want to reread Jane Eyre...

Great Sunday Article Mike. I will follow your suggestions on this, and make Jane Eyre my July reading. Unfortunately I have seen movies already, so know the story. Dubliners has always also been one of my favorites, but I could never get through Ulysses (nor Moby Dick, after loving Billy Budd) I wish you luck with Ulysses, you seem much more diligent than I.

Unattractive actors! You mean, like real people? Careful there, that's subversive. That would be a game changer and Hollywood doesn't want any of that.

Things are coming together here. Firstly, I heartily second the recommendation of Jane Eyre. I haven't yet read the book, but will look for one of the editions you mention. I didn't realize that Rochester was intended to be unattractive. I must say that Michael Fassbender struck me in the movie Prometheus as possibly the most beautiful man I've ever seen in a movie. His character has a fascination w/ Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence and the resemblance is striking. I do think Mia Wasikowska was appropriately plain, certainly downplaying her natural beauty.

I would like to recommend a book by Welsh author Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affaire. It is a comic detective story about a literary detective (Thursday Next) investigating the kidnapping of a character from Dickens. One of the conceits of the book is that fiction is part of reality. If someone gets erased from an original manuscript, then all editions lose the character. In the book, Jayne does not startle Rochester's horse, which makes the scene play out very differently. FForde also writes some more children-oriented books along the same lines, such as The Big Over Easy, which tries to investigate the murder of Humpty Dumpty; and The Fourth Bear, about Goldilocks. Anyhoo, he writes amusing light fiction for literature nerds.

I've mentioned it here before, but it fits, so I'll do so again: Mysteries of Lisbon is an astounding movie, and the cinematography is of the standards of Barry Lyndon/Jayne Eyre. Based on a novel from the mid 19th century, it tells the onion-layered story of a foundling and the people who impacted his life. Told more or less in increasing flashback it reminds me of Tom Jones, Barry Lyndon and the historical figures recounted in Ridley Scott's movie The Duelists. The movie is very slowly paced, and has a running time of just under 4:30, though when I saw it I was figuratively on the edge of my seat the entire time. It is a Portuguese film with one scene in very badly dubbed English. I asked my polyglot Spanish nephew (while he was recovering from resistant malaria) to seek out a copy of the novel and do a rough transliteration to English (it has never been translated) and I would do a final polish into idiomatic English. I promised it would sell dozens, and that we would become hundred-aires. Strangely, he declined my offer.

Patrick

Mike- your treatise on Jane Ayre brought back memories of my senior high school play in which I played the evil Mr. Rochester. The girl who played Jane in our production had a "Jane Ayre" face, but she was no actress. She delivered her lines with a monotone that could have cured a theater-goer's insomnia.

You said Barry Lyndon.

http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/sk/ac/len/page1.htm

Every frame is worth the price of admission.

Marvelous to read this here, Mike. Full agreement with you about the film. I'm a New York denizen but have a home within a brief carriage ride of most of the shooting locations. White Edge Lodge was meant to be filmed thus, sitting atop as bleak and beautiful a moor as you can imagine.

Wonderful exposition on the story. You have hit every point about the movies that my wife has complained about over the years. She has tried so hard to get our children to read the book first as, especially in this story, the movie no matter how well done always seems to fall short. I also recommend reading this book out loud with a good friend or loved one. That transforms the experience even to a greater degree.

Brian

Melville's "The Confidence-Man" is what you want to read.

Very post modern for 1857 and a pretty wild read. I understand that there are a lot of inside jokes regarding Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Poe, but I'm too 20th century to get them without help.

Mike, your struggles with some of the great literary classics make me smile. Last year, I, too, dove into "Moby dick" with the noblest of intentions, only to be vanquished at page 75. It was much the same with Proust's "Swann's Way." Last week, I attended a Bloomsday reading from Joyce's "Ulysses" and could only last for about 30 minutes. I am well educated and reasonably intelligent, but I have come to the conclusion that to a certain extent, highbrow literature achieves that status by being exceptionally difficult and impenetrable to all but a few. Those few then become part of an elite group that can fell superior to us benighted souls who simply cannot hack REALLY great books.

As an aside, I am planning a trip to Ireland next fall, and I was joking with a friend who is well versed in James Joyce that I might try to read "Ulysses" or Finnegan's Wake" beforehand. He answered, without a hint of irony or sarcasm "Why would you want to do that?" It made me feel better about myself.

I read Moby Dick years ago when I went though my novel reading phase, I don't know if I could read it now, my attention span is shortening, unfortunately. If you have a copy laying about, just read the opening paragraphs of the chapter called The Symphony, pretty brilliant, Melville could really write.

Here we go, it was online (of course), love this passage -

It was a clear steel-blue day. The firmaments of air and sea were hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only, the pensive air was transparently pure and soft, with a woman's look, and the robust and man-like sea heaved with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson's chest in his sleep.

Hither, and thither, on high, glided the snow-white wings of small, unspeckled birds; these were the gentle thoughts of the feminine air; but to and fro in the deeps, far down in the bottomless blue, rushed mighty leviathans, sword-fish, and sharks; and these were the strong, troubled, murderous thinkings of the masculine sea.

But though thus contrasting within, the contrast was only in shades and shadows without; those two seemed one; it was only the sex, as it were, that distinguished them.

I am currently about a fourth of the way through Moby Dick on Daily Lit (a site I highly recommend). I find reading just a page a day helps me get through some books.

Great post. Regarding the Beethoven quote, you might enjoy 'Parallels and Paradoxes', link below, which is a transcript of a series of conversations between conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim and Edward W. Said, the late Palestinian writer and academic. Really thoughtful, intelligent debate which touches on all kinds of social, political and philosophical issues in relation to music, including the issue touched on by your quote; that the music exists somewhere between, or beyond, score and performance. And how music and literature differ due to the necessity of interpretation in music. Two towering intellects In full flow.

http://www.amazon.com/Parallels-Paradoxes-Explorations-Music-Society/dp/1400075157/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340569372&sr=8-1&keywords=parallels+and+paradoxes+explorations+in+music+and+society

"... to effectively set out ..."

Oh no, not Mike too! What would Charlotte think? OK, I'll admit that the occasional sentence scans more mellifluously with a split infinitive, but for me, not this one.

[What is it about transgressions of such arbitrary rules of grammar that interrupt my reading so abruptly? I'm not even sure I agree there should be such a rule!]
----------
'When the great pianist, Moritz Rosenthal was told that Arthur Schnabel had been rejected for military service, he commented, "Of course, no fingers!"'

Can't say I agree, but I've only heard recordings, which were presumably his better performances.

Perhaps it was as with Isaac Stern. I heard him live once, the Beethoven Concerto, just awful. Not just fluffed notes, arpeggios just suggested with a few of the notes, occasional broken rhythms, etc.

You wouldn't think it was the same person as on the classic recording with Bernstein and the NYP. (No, not my favorite recording of the Beethoven, but a quite good one.)
----------
Dubliners is also a favorite of mine, as is Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Was? It's been a long time.) Do I have the fortitude for Ulysses?

Speaking of movies that don't hold up to the book, I found that The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis to be a better (slightly different) version than the original book. Just saying'.

I second the recommendation for 'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde, funny, racy, clever. A grand book (first of a series of six) for when you need cheering up, or for a long journey.

I was going to ask for a quick refresher on T-Stops but google provided me a wikapedia version that brought me back in sync.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-number
Thanks
Rick

Mike, I have a suggestion, based on my own experience trying to read Ulysses. Briefly, I couldn't. And I read a lot. Get the Audible.com audiobook and listen to it. The rhythm and flow of the language is crucial to an appreciation of the book. A good reading makes it come alive in a way I just couldn't appreciate from the printed page. The edition I have was narrated by Jim Norton.

When I got my KINDLE, one of the first things I did was download the free Ulysses. For months I've been reading it by pieces, and I finally started wondering has ANYONE actually read it all the way through?

Re: Proust. In the summer of my second year in high school, I set out to read the novel. It's roughly 3000 pages (in the Pleiade edition), so I gritted my teeth and forced myself through 100 pages a day for one solid month. It was tough going. However, when I got to the last book, everything fell into place. It was a transcendent experience. Then, I had the realization that I would have to go through the novel at least one more time. That has not happened in the subsequent thirty years, but the masterpiece will always be there, and maybe I will find the intellectual courage to experience it again before my days are over. I recommend it in the strongest possible terms. I would even be willing to be deprived of TOP for one month, if that is what you are going to do.

Anecdote alert!

I was at a party at the University of Notre Dame (a very Irish Catholic US university, for those who are unfamiliar with it) and the house belonged to a PhD student in Irish Literature. I was browsing his sagging bookcase and pulled out his copy of Ulysses—it was brand spanking new; all the other books were well-worn and full of notes.

I asked him about it and he replied Oh, nobody is crazy enough to try to read Ulysses, you just keep it on your bookshelf and pretend to have read it.

There was not a hint of irony in his voice.

Mike, don't sweat it.

Moby Dick is universally recognised as one of the least accessible books of all time.

Legions of dedicated book lovers have failed to swim through its torpid, muddy and - above all - dreary depths.

Consider yourself discerning and award yourself a pat on the back as a good judge of decent writing.

To paraphrase: Life is just too short for the likes of Moby Dick - there are too many good books out there to waste time on it.

I'd be keen to hear if anyone knows of any truly beautiful cinematic pieces shot digitally.

Every time I see something truly beautiful come out of Hollywood it's shot on film.

It seems Jane Eyre, was filmed on Fuji Eterna and printed to Kodak Vision.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1229822/technical

I had Moby Dick on the shelf for over 25 years and could never get through it - then one weekend, on a whim, I just read it from cover to cover - it's been one of my favourites ever since. Just think of it as a post-modern novel that is only 150 years ahead of its time.

Sorry to read you cannot make it through Melville's masterpiece. I'd suggest it "helps" to have a guide. I was fortunate enough to learn from Howard Vincent, whose "The Trying Out of Moby Dick," remains the singular volume explaining Melville's opus.
It also helps to have some solid Shakespeare experience behind you, (to appreciate the soliloquies & asides) & be trying to define one's personal beliefs & one's place in the universe. Heady stuff for a book about a simple fish, eh?

Moose,
There's nothing wrong with splitting infinitives. It's a fake rule.

Mike

To help you read Ulysses without getting bogged down again, here are two recommendations: First, it is imperative to get the Gabler edition, which corrects 5000 mistakes in the original. Second, "The New Bloomsday Book, a Guide Through Ulysses" by Harry Blamires is very helpful in explaining what's going on, what's real, what's metaphor, and other mysteries.

Mike,
Here's the 4 part BBC mini series you're looking for:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0780362/
Paul

Paul,
I bought that, but it won't play in my computer! I guess it's a double-sided disk. I suppose I have to get a DVD player to access it? I'm not sure.

Mike

"I bought that, but it won't play in my computer! I guess it's a double-sided disk. I suppose I have to get a DVD player to access it? I'm not sure."

Hmmm. Sorry Mike, no idea. I've only played our copy on our DVD/Blu-Ray player. Not sure how relevant this is, but here in New Zealand our DVDs are region 4 (and our DVD players are region-free by law anyway).

And I only know about that BBC series (indeed, about Jane Eyre at all), as my wife is very much into Bronte, Jane Austin, etc., and that's her favourite version. Definitely worth pursuing.

Paul

Jane Eyre has long been one of my favourite books. Certainly in the top five.

Oddly, I enjoy both the most recent film versions whenever I see them. Cary Fukunaga's version is sumptuous. And I rather like both William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourgh in Franco Zeffirelli's.

Mike, if you like the cinematography of Fukunaga's Eyre, I recommend Campion's Bright Star. Equally beautiful.

I'll second Bill Tyler's praise for Tim Norton (& Marcella Riodan) reading Ulysses. I have it in the abridged version from Naxos on 4 CDs, but Naxos also produced the whole 27 hours and 16 minutes on 22 CDs.

It's one of my favourites to listen to in the car on a long trip. It made the work accessible to me.

Okay, rather off topic and I'm clearly not as learned and lettered as many (most) here, but since some seem to be promoting their own great reads..."One Hundered Years of Solitude" would have to be my desert island book. If for no other reason than the esteemed Mr. Marquez' ability to paint such a sublime picture of the entire human condition (often in caricature and definitely not forgetting our sins, either) through the portrayal of the Buendia family across several generations.

I have read and enjoyed Bronte, Dickens, Hemingway, Dumas, Stevenson, some of the Russians and many more, but no single read has ever captured my imagination in the way Gabriel Garcia Marquez has in this book. "Unforgettable Characters" indeed.

If it isn't old hat to you already - it may well be - it's definitely a worthy read (in my most humble opinion).

How on Earth do you find the time to read so much while doing all the research and writing for this blog? And listening to music, and transferring all those 12,000 music pieces to hard drive, and doing photography, and looking after a house as well?

I had a bout of illness last year (depressive illness, actually) where I spent all day and night either at the computer, sitting reading or watching TV etc. Sitting all the time, in other words. I'm suffering now because I'm losing the ability to walk (I'm 65 and obese). The less I walk, the harder it gets ...

Isn't it the same for you? You must be sitting down all day and night to do what you do.

I realise I'm computer addicted. My days of actually going out with my camera bag and walking around are gone. All I'm doing now is processing all the thousands of photos I took up to about 2009.

IOW, what do you do for exercise, Mike, and how do you find the time in among all your other sedentary pursuits.

"Moose,
There's nothing wrong with splitting infinitives. It's a fake rule."

I agree with you, in principle. But the darn things break the flow when I'm reading.

I need to have a stiff word with my inner critic about the unwanted overtime it's putting in. P;-)

Moose

I third the recommendation for 'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde. It would probably fall flat for anyone who does not catch the satirical aspects, and the many references to the original novel - and to literature in general. For the audience at which it was clearly aimed, it should be a very enjoyable read.

On a vaguely connected subject, I also recommend a film from about 10 years ago, called 'Bride and Prejudice'. It is a relaxed and entertaining send-up of the classic novel, set in modern-day India - and also a satire of the Bollywood films. Quite enjoyable entertainment even if you are not familiar with the novel, but doubly so if you are - IMO.

- Tom -


Didn't Joyce say something to the effect that Ulysses "would keep the professors in employment for years"? I think there's a clue there if you start to find it difficult...

Beethoven piano sonatas better music than can be played? I don't know about that - it would seem rather a negative comment, suggesting there might be no point in listening to a performance. Andras Schiff believes that Beethoven is, in his words, a "generous composer". He means that the work is open to different interpretations, many equally valid and rewarding. I tend to agree with this, which explains why you can have many sets of the sonatas, and still be unable to pick out a clear "winner".

Split infinitives? "The sort of pedantry up with which we will not put"

Loved "Jane Eyre" when I read it at school - my favourite Bronte work by far (including siblings).
Only once started a "proper" novel and gave up, Thomas Hardy's "Tess" - and I have grown up and lived in the Wessex area of southern England for most of my life.

Slightly off-topic, but...
On the matter of reading medieval English I recently saw an interview with Hilary Mantel (Sky Arts; Hay Sessions) in which she described how she dealt with this problem in devising a form for the language in her (as yet incomplete) trilogy on the life of Thomas Cromwell. Fascinating - I won't do her the injustice of trying to summarise but I'd encourage anyone who can do so to watch it.
Whilst "historical fiction", particularly where the subject is the British monarchy, isn't a subject that particularly appeals to me, the first two volumes of published to date, "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the bodies", are absolutely magnificent, fully deserving the praise heaped upon them.

Mike,
don't give up just yet the idea of possibly taking on Proust. His writing is not difficult to understand. What makes it hard are the long sentences, the overload of adjectives, insights and ideas. This demands SLOW reading to fully appreciate, where you will probably feel the need to take a break and sometimes read something quick and light. But do get back to it. With patience comes an immensely rewarding reading experience. I have never come across a writer who is as quotable as Proust. I started my first attempt at a "Commonplace Book" just to collect all the beautiful quotes from Proust that I want quick access to. /Mattias

On Moby Dick being hard to read, odd, I don't consider myself a literary hound by any means, but I seem to remember Pequod, or was it Quequod, and the harpoon and looking the whale right in the eye, and the ship and the whale boat in the terrible storm-tossed waves. That's all I can remember. I must have read it when I was a kid, yet I don't recall any difficulty. Maybe we have a different way of reading when we're kids.

PS I read a lot then, including Huck Finn and Henry James and C. S. Lewis, but most importantly of all, C. S. Forester's Hornblower series. I read them all, however many books there were and some twice or three times. I have loved ships and sail ever since, but this great writing taught me to love reading and good writing. Forever grateful to C. S. F. If I were PM, I would ban television! Commercial TV, anyway. Pretty ironic considering I made my living as a commercial TV station tech.

Mike,

Reed College, you say? That explains it!

I've jumped ahead to the comments, interrupting this absolutely delightful and absorbing essay of yours. Just reminding myself, yet again, how much I enjoy and admire the literate quality in all your posts. I'm savoring it along with the (home-roasted) coffee warming my palms.

And now you mention Reed College. Hah! Very interesting. That rattles a few brain chains.

I'm not directly connected to the place. But I often come across Reedies. I'm curious about Reed, primed and sensitized to the name whenever I come across it, mainly because my beloved father-in-law retired a few years ago from the faculty there. He was a physics prof, active from the '60s until about five years ago. He also participated in the multi-disciplinary Senior Symposium, which brought together students and profs from various disciplines to grapple with a rich corpus of fiction and non-fiction, over the course of a semester.

Then there have been a few famous Reedies, not least the late Steve Jobs--I'm sure you know--probably Reed's most successful drop-out in the business world, who self-reportedly found inspiration in a calligraphy class there, which subsequently informed his emphasis on the esthetics of, the importance of, design and function. I heard of this early influence of his (via that YouTube clip of his graduation speech given a few years ago), a few years after I had come across the book "Write Now" by Getty and Dubay, inspired by that same calligraphy class at Reed. I'm a casual, occasional calligrapher, so the story impressed itself in me.

So, to add to my collection of anecdotal impressions of Reed College, I'm mildly curious about your Reed career--although I don't expect you to follow up with anything specific. I recall, I think, your saying that you never graduated from college. Perhaps then you are another successful Reed drop-out (I think as I type at my Apple keyboard, and read your blog avidly through the Apple browser, etc. . .).

I'm off topic indeed. But then this blog inspires such rumination, almost daily, and I want to thank you for enriching my reading so.

All power to your pen,

Patrick

I Haven't yet seen this version yet, but the one that seems to capture much of the spirit of the novel is the 4 hour 2006 BBC version with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. So much better than any other version I've seen, with an intriguingly self-effacing, yet astute and quietly assured Jane and a dismissive yet passionate Rochester. The screenplay writing and filming is also of a high standard. Excellent!

Don Daso - He he, the problems of categorisation. "When I was quite young, I was suitably impressed to learn that, appearances notwithstanding, the whale is not a fish". (E H Carr) I'm sure you know this and were being mischievous, as E H Carr often was, but the whale is an interesting evolutionary example. This is worth a read

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/may/27/almost-like-whale-steve-jones

When I was in college, I took both a Medieval lit course and an Arthurian lit course, so I've read the Winchester Malory. It is not really that far off from Elizabethan English, except for the irregular spelling; it's much easier than Chaucer. If you like Arthurian stories, It's worth having a look at even if you don't get through the whole thing, just to have a taste of the flavor of it, which doesn't really come through in "translation". (Interesting historical footnote: the Winchester version is different from the published Caxton edition, but we know that Caxton had the Winchester manuscript in his shop.)

The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell, published in 1857, two years after the death of Charlotte Bronte, is the first published biography of one of the Bronte sisters. Mrs Gaskell was a frequent visitor to the Bronte parsonage in Haworth, knew the family well and had access to Charlotte's letters after her death. However, although her biography of Charlotte was very successful, it has been said that ultimately Mrs Gaskell regretted writing it.

I was thinking The ineluctable modality of the visible would be a good name for a photo blog, then I noticed it gets about 37,900 results on Google, so maybe not.

My father in law collected editions of Ulysses, I think he had at least a dozen.

Re: reading Moby Dick. First time through, skip all the expository chapters. Just skip them. Nothing is going to happen. Nonetheless, it's a gripping yarn - read it for the adventure story. If you get bored, skip ahead a bit.

If the writing grabs you, then when you go back to read it again, you can try the fishy bits, the explanations of whaling, the meditations on the world. Or not. It took me about three times through to actually get all the words read, but now I've read it over a dozen times. I go back to it every couple of years and read all of it.

Someday I'll make it through Ulysses, but I have yet to be in the right frame of mind for it to grab me. I keep hoping that next time I pick it up, I will be. And Proust. It took several tries before Shakespeare and Milton and Cervantes -- and Melville -- fell to hand like the old friends they are now.

“Long exile from Christendom and civilization inevitably restores a man to that condition in which God placed him, i.e. what is called savagery. Your true whale-hunter is as much a savage as an Iroquois. I myself am a savage, owning no allegiance but to the King of the Cannibals; and ready at any moment to rebel against him.”

It's always fun to look for classics at Spring Lake. I read Beau Geste a few years ago and just picked up Daddy Long Legs.

We have a version (probably Dover) of The Boy's King Arthur out there, too. Tim's friends LOVE to read it with bad English accents!

Charlotte Gainsboug... plain ?!

One can download Jane Eyre and Ulysses as
eBooks for free from Project Gutenberg
and iBooks Store. Also on iBooks Store
there is a "fully-integrated text and audio
eBook" of Jane Eyre for free. That one is
743MB (ouch) and takes some time to load.

Just me, but Charlotte's got nothing on her sister Anne when it comes to feminism and female empowerment. Try The Tenant of Wildfell Hall sometime. Jane Eyre is the fantasy of a 19th century English governess's life. Agnes Grey is the grim reality.

To me, the movie versions of Jane Eyre all singularly fail to capture the humor of the book, somehow conflating it with Wuthering Heights. The only version that got this (but, as you say, still forgets Rochester's appearance by casting Timothy Dalton in the role), is the 1983 BBC miniseries, adapted by Alexander Baron (y'know, back when actual novelists adapted classic novels for the BBC). Although the recent Fukunaga version comes close.

You're also gonna love a biography when it comes to the dedication on the 2nd edition of Jane Eyre. No. Really. It's a good story (but spoilers for those who are unfamiliar with the plot of Jane Eyre).

And you remind me. I need to pull out my last unread Dickens novel (Martin Chuzzlewit), since 2012 is the centenary of his birth. And it's probably time for my annual re-read of Hazlitt's essay, "On Reading New Books," which to me, pretty much says everything there is to be said on why most folks don't read the classics.

Regarding the many versions of the Arthurian legend, I really enjoyed Mary Stewart's telling of it when I was younger (mid to late teens): The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, and The Wicked Day. All are semi-historical fiction (Stewart did her homework on the period, if I recall correctly; I'm not referring to the Arthurian story, specifically, of course). Haven't read The Prince and the Pilgrim, though. All are available from amazon here (hopefully with credit to TOP).

I'd be curious to know if any TOPers have read the series as adults and how you found it. DDB? Ctein? You two seem like potential candidates.

My advice on Moby Dick is the opposite of HD's -- the only things of value in there are the relatively contemporary and accurate accounts of sailing and whaling. The rest of it is angsty nonsense and can be discarded without loss.

"There's nothing wrong with splitting infinitives. It's a fake rule."

I never knew that. Always thought it was a silly rule. Good to know it's not a rule at all. I look forward to boldly splitting many infinitives in the days to come!

"Photographically—I should be scrupulous and say cinematographically—this most recent adaptation is so gorgeous it's almost distracting. " Well I'm sure it is, but the opaque stills you posted do not illustrate this.

> Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, a speedy and pleasurable read and a
> marvelously rich novel, whose only sin could be over-familiarity—not a
> problem for me, since I'd never read it before and didn't even know the story.

You "young adult" you ;-)

I liked the recent Jane Eyre too Michael. Mia Wasikowska, homegrown where I come from, is superb. I reviewed it a year ago:
http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/airs-and-graces-20110804-1ic6e.html

PB

I have to second (third?) the recommendation to watch the BBC's excellent 2006 mini series. Jane Eyre works much better as a mini series than as a film, and the BBC did an really wonderful job of incorporating many of the complex elements that go into making this novel the triumph that it is. Of course, the actors are too attractive, but you can't have everything.

(I also second the recommendation to try Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, though my favourite scene, a parody of Kafka's The Trial, is actually in the second book in the series. But The Eyre Affair is clever, light-hearted and great fun.)

Good luck with Ulysses... A very, very different book! And don't feel bad about Moby Dick. It's like medicines - they mostly work for most people, but not for everyone, and there are one or two that just don't do anything for you, or even bring you out in a rash. Try everything that comes with a good recommendation, and if it's not right for you, leave it and move on, having learned something about yourself.

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