Book review: Ulysses, by James Joyce, 1922

“Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves.” ‘Ulysses’ was a hard read, 933 pages of complex, allusive text, full of echoes, references, challenges and puzzles. Reading this novel passively, without paying full attention, isContinue reading “Book review: Ulysses, by James Joyce, 1922”

Supplementary: “A cartload of apes and ivory” – Rebecca West on ‘The Golden Bowl’

‘The Golden Bowl’ certainly divides opinion. Reading some online reviews I came across a wonderful demolition of the novel by the awesome Rebecca West. I make no apologies for quoting at length from her analysis – West never pulls her punches and has a magnificent turn of phrase. She opens by calling the novel “anContinue reading “Supplementary: “A cartload of apes and ivory” – Rebecca West on ‘The Golden Bowl’”

Book review: 1919, by John Dos Passos, 1932

‘1919’ is the second book in Dos Passos’s ‘USA’ trilogy. Which immediately begs the question, why read only the middle book in a trilogy? You wouldn’t read only ‘The Two Towers’, would you? I think there are several reasons why I am going to resist the temptation to read the rest of ‘USA’. Firstly, ‘1919’Continue reading “Book review: 1919, by John Dos Passos, 1932”

Book review: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne, 1759-1767

If you type ‘Tristram Shandy’ into the search field on WordPress’s “Reader” pages, you will be presented with a large number of results. Look more closely, and it turns out that for every review of Sterne’s ridiculous, extravagant, often nonsensical novel, there is another post lamenting its unreadability. I sympathise. ‘Tristram Shandy’ was published overContinue reading “Book review: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne, 1759-1767”

Book review: As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner, 1930

William Faulkner’s ‘As I Lay Dying’ tells the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her last journey to her hometown, Jefferson, Mississippi. The novel opens with the dying Addie watching her son Cash construct her coffin. The ominous sounds of his carpentry echo around the house, forming an aural backdrop to the family’sContinue reading “Book review: As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner, 1930”

Supplementary: Last words on ‘Clarissa’, by Samuel Richardson, 1748

  A final post about ‘Clarissa’, I promise. Please be aware of multiple spoilers in the unlikely event you were planning to read this novel. I left Clarissa at the end of volume 4 of 9 in the hands of the sinister Robert Lovelace. In his citation of this novel in the ‘100 best novelsContinue reading “Supplementary: Last words on ‘Clarissa’, by Samuel Richardson, 1748”

Book review: ‘Clarissa’, by Samuel Richardson, 1748, volumes 3 & 4

Back to ‘Clarissa’.  At the end of book 2, Clarissa has taken the bold, if not foolhardy step of running away from her family home with the blaggard Lovelace. While it looks to the rest of the world as if this was an elopement, the actual events were more confused – Clarissa intended to tellContinue reading “Book review: ‘Clarissa’, by Samuel Richardson, 1748, volumes 3 & 4”

Book review: The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan, 1678

Subtitled ‘From This World to That Which Is to Come; Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream’. This is the third time I have recently tried to read ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ – each time previously I gave up simply due to lack of interest. Bunyan’s style is said to be straightforward, but I found the insistentContinue reading “Book review: The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan, 1678”

Book review: The Beginning of Spring, by Penelope Fitzgerald, 1988

‘The Beginning of Spring’ tells the story of the Reid family. Living in Moscow, (although originally from Salford and Norbury), the Reid’s are Frank, a printer, his wife Nellie, and their three lively children. The novel opens with Nellie’s apparently sudden decision to leave her husband and travel back to England. This breakup provides aContinue reading “Book review: The Beginning of Spring, by Penelope Fitzgerald, 1988”

Book review: Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848

“Vanity Fair is a very vain, wicked, foolish place, full of all sorts of humbugs and falsenesses and pretensions.” Thackeray’s ‘Vanity Fair’ draws its name from ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’. It was published in nineteen monthly instalments, and as with many Victorian novels shows some evidence of padding – the scenes in continental Europe at theContinue reading “Book review: Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848”