Adventures in Reading

Terry Pratchett: An Interlude
September 26, 2007, 2:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have not read anything by Terry Pratchett (one of the world’s most beloved fantasy authors) in many years and when his new book Making Money was released on September 18th… Well I made it an entire seven days before giving in and reading it! After an evening of reading I am half way through and am not disappointed. Despite not reading Pratchett for some years (including not reading his past few books) I am finding the novel as delightful and refreshing as ever. Pratchett is truly an author I am comfortable calling a Renaissance man, as I am continuously astounded by his knowledge, and he writes with wit, style, and intelligence.

Despite this brief interlude, the 18th Century still is not that far behind! In Making Money the characters Ms. Adora Belle Dearheart and Mr. Moist von Lipwig visit the Discworld’s Unseen University to see the Cabinet of Curiosity. In prior posts about the Grand Tour I mentioned that people participating in this tour would bring items back with them. Those with large enough collections would often dedicate a room or cabinet to better display these items. Pratchett makes use of this traditional use of the word as well as the modern usage as his cabinet is an enormous room that folds into a small, wooden cabinet and vice versa. (In addition, the point of visiting the cabinet is to see a piece of classical Discworld sculpture.) There is no escaping history!

My other discovery today was on Facebook. Now, it seems that there is no escaping Facebook or MySpace, etc. and I put the community to good use by searching for: jane austen. Much to my surprise it seems a sizable portion of the 266 groups resulting from this search dislike Jane Austen. And here I must confess to my reading audience that prior to my recent perusal of Austen I did not like her myself (though now I am quite taken with her). There are many reasons that one could dislike Austen but many of the opinions expressed seemed, well, rather narrow minded.

A challenge I will gladly present to anyone who thinks that they do or will loathe Austen (and thus avoid her) is to pick up one of her novels and read it on your own time. Do not read her in a class (especially if you have read her there before) because most likely if it is assigned reading you can assume your instructor is already fond of Austen, and thus perhaps does not present the most unbiased opinion. Open your mind to women writers, open your mind to the literary tradition building up to the Neoclassical period, open your mind to what Austen and her contemporaries achieved and contributed to the modern novel, and try to pick up a Norton’s Critical Edition to get some lovely essays already in the book. If you still dislike her (and some people certainly will) make sure it is for the right reasons and not simply because you have written her off as romantic drivel.

Tomorrow I will hopefully have finished volume one of Clarissa as well as have some interesting tidbits to share on my most recent critical book on Austen.

And another review at Nymeth’s blog.

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