A Conversation With Myself

I: You haven’t posted anything for a while. Have you given up?
ME: …er…no, I don’t think so.
I: Well, have you? Or haven’t you?
ME: No. I haven’t made the conscious decision to stop blogging; it just hasn’t happened.
I: What happened?
ME: Nothing really…work maybe…I always try to blame work. But I just sort of lost enthusiasm for posting anything. Strangely it was at a time when I was thinking of blogging about more than ‘just’ books, which had been my original intention when starting up this blog, that it all just crashed…I lost the enthusiasm.
I: Did you stop reading as well?
ME: No, in fact I was enjoying my reading as much as before, if not more.
I: What have you been reading?
ME: Well, I finished reading L.P. Hartley’s Eustace and Hilda trilogy, which was excellent, and carried on with more by him.
I: Such as?
ME: The Go-Between which I thought I should read as it’s his most famous work. I also read The Hireling; I had already watched the film version earlier in the year but really wanted to read the book.
I: Were they good? I mean book and film.
ME: Yes, certainly. The film of The Hireling was quite different than the book but both worked well.
I: What do you like about Hartley’s writing?
ME: He has great psychological insight into his characters, especially children.
I: Have you read any more by him?
ME: No, but I do have a biography of him that I intend to read soon.
I: Who’s the author?
ME: Adrian Wright.
I: No relation?
ME: Of course not. You should know that as well as me.
I: Ok. Keep your hair on. So, what else have you been reading?
ME: A real mish-mash really but I finally got round to reading Joseph Heller’s Good as Gold, which I’d been meaning to read for years.
I: Was it as good as Catch-22?
ME: No, but it was ok…funny in places…especially the family scenes…it got a bit strange at the end though. I felt that he could’ve done with a better editor, assuming he had one at all.
I: I suppose none of his other books can compare with Catch-22.
ME: Probably not. But when I read his second novel, Something Happened, I actually preferred it to Catch-22.
I: Did you watch the recent adaption of it?
ME: Of Catch-22? Yes. I liked it. It was better than the film.
I: So what else have you been reading?
ME: I don’t want to list everything…that would be dull…but the usual I suppose…fiction, some non-fiction…..I read Angela Carter’s The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, which I really enjoyed, and had hoped to blog about.
I: But you didn’t.
ME: No. And I’ve been reading some 18th Century works as well.
I: Such as?
ME: Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, Laclos, Sade.
I: All French I see. What is this thing you have with French writers?
ME: …er…I don’t know…it just sort of happens that way…I do intend to read some British writers as well.
I: Such as?
ME: Fielding, Defoe, Richardson, Austen…
I: Mostly male writers I see. And Austen is 19th Century isn’t she?
ME: Yes. But I’m thinking of a ‘long’ 18th Century. I just haven’t read much Austen and I want to read more by her. I hope to include Byron as well.
I: What prompted this interest in 18th Century literature?
ME: Well, I’m interested in the 18th Century…some of the historical characters….some of the events such as the French & American revolutions. I keep meaning to read Casanova’s memoirs but haven’t got round to it yet. But I had also intended to read some Sade…
I: Woah! Really! The Marquis de Sade! Are you some kind of sicko?
ME: …er…I hope not…but he’s a…
I: …pervert….
ME: …fascinating…
I: …sicko….
ME…character…
I: Are you sure? I mean have you read any of his work? It’s pretty strong stuff.
ME: Yes, I’m well aware of his works. I read most of Juliette when I was in my late teens/early twenties until I abandoned it…I felt emotionally numb at that point…But I read some biographies at the time and found him fascinating as a person. I didn’t know what to make of him, and still don’t.
I: So you thought you’d read more by him?
ME: Well, yes. But I intend to concentrate on some of his more ‘conventional’ works initially.
I: So none of his pervy stuff?
ME: Not at first, but I do intend to read 120 Days of Sodom.
I: That will be jolly. Why?
ME: I don’t want to be defeated by a book. I don’t want to be the sort of reader who doesn’t read something because the characters are ‘not nice’ or because they say or do nasty things.
I: So it’s a macho thing?
ME: Possibly…I hope not…but it may well be…
I: So have you read many so far?
ME: A few. Sade was a better writer than is generally credited. I wonder what sort of reputation he would have today if he’d restricted himself to his more ‘acceptable’ works.
I: He’d probably be unknown.
ME: Quite possibly. The shock value of his ‘libertine’ novels is why we remember him, and with good reason, but his other works are still quite revolutionary.
I: So, is there much available?
ME: Well, considering that Sade spent a large portion of his adult life in prison it’s amazing how much is available. A lot is now lost. His ‘libertine’ novels are generally available in various editions and his shorter works are now available in the OUP collections, as well as other versions, such as the small Hesperus editions. I have created a page here with as much information as I could find on his shorter works.
I: And this ‘Sade project’ has now expanded into an ’18th Century Literature Project’?
ME: I guess. It was when I realised that I really needed to read Les Liaisons Dangereuses before reading more Sade, and possibly Richardson as well, that I thought about reading more 18th Century works.
I: So you must be storming away?
ME: Not really. It’s going slowly. I’ve read Les Liaisons Dangereuses and a few others. As with 19th Century literature, I find it difficult reading one after another. I have to keep returning to the 20th & 21st Centuries.
I: So are you going to post anything about your reading? Sade or otherwise?
ME: I had intended to. And I still do. I just don’t know when.
I: But you may?
ME: I may. But I may not.
I: But you want to?
ME: I do.

21 Comments

Filed under Carter, Angela, Hartley, L. P., Sade, Marquis de

21 responses to “A Conversation With Myself

  1. Well, I hope you *will* gather your two selves together and do some posts, as it sounds like they’ll be very interesting! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jonathan

    Thanks Karen. I’m not sure if I should admit this but this sort of conversation goes on in my head all the time.

    Like

  3. I always enjoy your posts, Jonathan. I hope you do continue to write them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      Thanks Melissa. I hope to get back to posting more. I started writing several over the last few months but didn’t finish them for different reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Marina Sofia

    That sounds like some really interesting, what I call ‘meandering’ reading. Hope to hear some more of your thoughts on any of these, but I can understand your impulse to pause the blogging as well. Tempted many times myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      Thanks Marina. I didn’t consciously stop but just couldn’t finish, or sometimes start, a post on anything. I’ve got this week off work so maybe I can write at least one more before I go back. I quite enjoyed writing this one. I was inspired by my recent read, Rameau’s Nephew by Diderot, where the author places himself in the text in conversation with other characters.

      Like

  5. now you’ve tantalised us with all those mentions of Sade you’ll have to continue the story by sharing your reactions to them once read. Wouldn’t be fair to keep us dangling would it???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      I certainly mean to Karen. I’m hoping to write a post on ‘Virtue’ by Sade. I actually re-read it a couple of weeks ago with the sole intention of blogging about it….but didn’t…I was hoping to blog about some of the other 18th C books I’m reading but find that quite daunting as I’m aware that I’m probably missing a lot in my reading. However I’ve found that writing a blog post is quite useful in that it forces me to return to the text.

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  6. This post did make me laugh, Jonathan. I have these conversations with myself all the time, but usually about food. What should I eat? Should I cook that? Is this healthy? Will this make me feel better? Etc etc

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      Ha ha. It’s good to hear that I’m not the only one. I usually enjoy my book ‘conversations’ but I’m now bored of my internal Brexit conversations.

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  7. I can relate. I hope your blogging enthusiasm will return. I’ve nit been blogging for almost four months. Mostly health but I think I lost my mojo. Your reading exactly the French Literature I studied. Pre 19th century. It’s not written about enough. I also read de Sade. Quite hard to stomach unlike Sacher Masochist who is almost breezy.
    I enjoyed your post very much btw.
    Selfishly, I hope you’ll be back for German Literature Month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      Hi Caroline. Your blogging lull has coincided with mine. I found I was struggling during the Radetzky March Readalong and yet, as I mentioned above, my reading was going well, and I enjoyed reading Roth and reading what others thought of it. I think part of it was that I spent time writing some posts that I ended up abandoning and began to think of it as a bit of a waste of time. I may try shorter posts to get back into the groove.

      It’s funny but I had been trying to track down different books by Sacher-Masoch that are available in English—there aren’t many but there are more than a cursory search would indicate. The Sade works I’ve been concentrating on are his shorter prose, some are even humorous.

      I hope to join in with GLM again this year. I don’t usually reveal what I’m intending to read but I’m thinking of reading Witiko by Stifter, but don’t tell anyone.

      I hope your health improves and your blogging mojo returns.

      Like

      • I struggled so much during that readalong. Health issues is a bit misleading. I had massive back and neck pain and awful headaches. Once the reason was found it went uphill quickly but it took eight months. I don’t think I even managed to read blog posts back then. Sitting upright, holding a book, everything was painful. So I I didn’t read as much as you but I’m enjoying it all the more now. But, like you, I had already lost some of the enthusiasm before for several reasons. In the end I missed it though.
        I read Justine and, of course, found it shocking. Sacher-Masochist is quite beautiful. Venus in Furs, that is. I read a lot of Bataille too and didn’t Angela Carter write about de Sade?
        I haven’t read Witiko. Your secret is safe with me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jonathan

        I can sympathise with the back/neck problems. In recent years I’ve started to suffer with both. I try to do exercises and stretches to ward them off but then I don’t do them for a while and bam! my back’s gone.

        I read Carter’s book on Sade recently. In fact I’m probably reading as much about him as by him. I haven’t read Justine but intend reading the earlier/tamer version of the story first.

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      • I’m sorry to hear you get that too. I need to exercise and do yoga but I had a blocked rib and nobody got that. It’s a two second fix! But untreated it’s awful. Plus a problem from a skiing accident as a teenager. I never thought it would come back to haunt me almost thirty years later.
        I find he’s one of those authors that are more fascinating as a phenomenon than great as writers. I saw Pasolini’s movie ages ago. Bit challenging but interesting too.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Latest by GML, is what I wanted to say.

    Like

  9. Interesting conversation! I love Catch 22, but think Something Happened is the better novel. After that was all downhill as far as I can see. The last (I think) was a failed attempt at post modernism reprising characters from Catch 22 as old men. That is a memory from a few years ago. I’m not going to check it for accuracy.

    I’m finding C18th writing amusing and interesting (I’m shocked you haven’t read everything by the early C19th Jane Austen). I’m probably not ever going to read Sade but would like to point out a connection to Australian Justine Ettler’s The River Ophelia (1995) a novel of sex and self-harm in which Sade is a character.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      Yes I really enjoyed Something Happened and plan to re-read it sometime soon. I hope to read some more by Heller even though they probably won’t be as good as C22 & SH. The main problem, for me, with Good as Gold was that it was so scrappy, it was all over the place. For example, there was a bit where Heller was trying to be post-modern and started analysing his characters—it was so out of place. And the whole ‘going-to-Washington’ business was a bit too silly. There was a good book trying to get out.

      Austen never really appealed to me until more recently, though even now it’s more out of curiosity than anything. It wasn’t just Austen that I avoided, it was a lot of British writers as well; I preferred French, Russian & American authors; but over the last ten years I’ve been reading more British novels. The only Austen that I’ve read so far is S&S, which was ok-ish. I’ve seen quite a few of the film/TV adaptions though—I’ve started watching the recent adaption of Sanditon which is on at the moment here in the UK.

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  10. Vishy

    I am so glad you posted this, Jonathan! I was wondering what you were upto and why you weren’t posting book reviews. So glad you have read so many things recently. Hope you find time to share your thoughts. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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