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Discussion in 'Personal Diaries' started by Terry Page, Mar 21, 2016.
Chocolate I can live without. Beer on the other hand...
Tom, I don't see this question asked. Do you have siblings? If you do, how many brothers; how many sisters? Are you close?
Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
What is your favorite thing to do when you are alone?
1. I have a sister, but it's many years since we met.
2. Somewhere between the two.
3. This is dependent upon circumstance and what I have to do. If I have no specific work or chores to do, then I will probably read a book. I studied 19th-century literature and there are still many works from that century that I want to read. That's not to say I don't read more modern novels, though. I also have a liking for history and we have accumulated quite a collection of works on ancient Greece and Rome, along with stuff on the Byzantine empire, as well as a considerable number on Irish history. I enjoy social histories of places, too, and I'm quite fond of some of the quirkier looks at cities. I read one recently where the author gave us a tour of London via the Monopoly board, which was very informative and amusing. I bought another book recently that is a look at Paris via its metro stations.
I have to admit that I'm not a scholar. I read for enjoyment. After seeing that you studied 19th century literature, I Googled "19th Century literature." I looked at the best one hundred novels. I was a bit surprised to see that I have read many of them. There are many more left to read, however. Do you have two or three that you would recommend that I read? Keep in mind, though, that I read only for enjoyment, not any kind of redeeming literary quality.
One of the novels on the list was "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I have thought that because I am a southerner, I should read that. I have tried several times to read it. I can't get past the first one hundred pages. It is full of run on sentences and bores me badly. Have you read it?
When I was ten or eleven years old, I came across a tattered copy of "Green Mansions." There were lots of words that I didn't understand but I was entranced by the story. I still think it's one of the best books I ever read. I have read it since then and it stood the test of time. (It's a romance) That began my love of reading. Have you read it? To what do you attribute your love of literature?
And, finally, a trick question. No fair Googling.
What 19th century novel contains the first use of the word "Millionaires" in print?
I should stress that I read for enjoyment rather than for academic purposes. It's hard to pick just a tiny number of 19th century novels because there are so many I like.
I've read most, though not all, of Dickens. I'd probably choose Tale of Two Cities as my favourite. George Eliot would be up there, too - I think she is underrated - Middlemarch, in particular is wonderful.
Anthony Trollope is another. I think that The Way We Live Now should be compulsory reading for would-be politicians everywhere.
One of my favourite authors is Wilkie Collins. The Woman in White and The Moonstone are classics. Collins is sometimes dismissed as just another sensationalist. I disagree. I think he is way ahead of others in that style.
So many: HG Wells spanned the 19th and 20th centuries and I suppose most people think of his science fiction works, but I like a lot of his social commentary novels. Tono Bungay and The History of Mr Polly are superb, though they appeared in the early 20th century.
I like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, too. Jane Eyre would be near the top of my list (if I had one).
Emile Zola might portray a little too much brutal realism for people that prefer escapism, but I like his work. Again, some of our so-called betters should be forced to read Zola.
Among American authors, Hawthorne is one I like. The Scarlet Letter is very powerful and while it is set in the 17th century, it was written in the 19th. I'll also mention Kate Chopin - I think The Awakening is a very brave work for its time.
I have not read Green Mansions and I don't have an answer to the last question, so I will have a guess and say Vanity Fair.
Tom...I believe this is your last day of your Marathon stint in the Hot Seat.....
My last question to you is ...if you didn't live in Fife......but you had to choose to live somewhere in the UK...where would you choose?
I lived in Oxford for eleven years and that's certainly a nice place to live, though it has become ridiculously expensive now. I also lived in Abingdon, just south of Oxford, for a couple of years. It was a lovely little market town then, but on my last visit, I wasn't impressed. Too many yuppie flats now and good pubs turned into poseur cafe-bars. Even the superb delicatessen has gone, replaced by some dismal chain.
I also lived in Edinburgh for five years. Like a lot of cities everywhere, it has its good and bad bits. One of the drawbacks is tourist overload, something that shows up even more in Oxford, which is a good deal smaller than Edinburgh.
I prefer to be in a town rather than stuck out too far in the sticks. In fact, one of the places I lived in Oxford was almost perfect. It was only 15 to 20 minutes into town on the bus, but we felt almost out in the countryside, with a large common nearby, the canal on one side of us and the river on the other. A couple of decent pubs within walking distance...not bad at all.
If I could extend the question across the continent, I'd say that Riga and Ljubljana were two of my favourite cities. They're both quite small and have lots of green space. Ljubljana has no less than three rivers as well. Nice climate, nice food and some good beer as well.
I know Oxford and Abingdon , as well as of course Edinburgh, very well...I was seeing them in my midns' eye when I was reading your post...
Just as a small postscript, it was amusing to watch the early Inspector Morse series, because they were set in Oxford. They filmed in quite a few places around Jericho, where there used to be loads of little pubs in the back streets. In later series, they did most of the filming around Elstree studios and I remember seeing one scene at a pub that was supposedly in Oxford, but I recognised as being in St Albans, a city I knew quite well because friends of mine lived there.
Another thing that was amusing was seeing things that were impossible...Morse and Lewis leaving the police station on St Aldate's, turning left, yet ending up on the High Street which is in the opposite direction. Or going into the public toilet on St Giles and coming out again by Merton College, a good mile away!
Tom, while I was looking at the list, I picked some that I definitely want to read. One of them is Middlemarch. The others are: War of the Worlds, Tess of D'urbervilles, Heart of Darkness, and Daniel Deronda. I have downloaded Heart of Darkness to my Kindle. Have you read these? Any opinions?
The answer to my trick question is Vivian Gray by Benjamin Disraeli.
I haven't read Daniel Deronda yet - it's one of many books I'd like to read. Silas Marner is good, as well. One interesting little fact about Middlemarch; Eliot had started two novels and decided to merge them into one, which became Middlemarch. On that basis, I can claim to have something in common with George Eliot, as that happened to me, too. I've merged two novels that I'd started, but that's probably the only time George Eliot and me will appear in the same sentence.
Conrad was remarkable, given that English was at least his third, and maybe fourth, language. I wrote a thesis on Heart of Darkness. The great Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, hated the book, believing it colonialist and racist. I disagreed with that. To me, it's the opposite. Sure, there are words that no civilised person would use now, but we have to consider context and time. I even used some text of a letter from a Ghanaian friend to whom I'd lent the book. His opinion was that it condemned colonialism and respected Africans. Ah, literature and art. And all those science people tell us that all we ever do is laze around reading books.
On the subject of Conrad, I've enjoyed all his work, though I'd say Nostromo was his finest.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Thomas Hardy. I find him a bit too gloomy and introspective at times.
As I mentioned, I'm actually keener on the social commentary novels of Wells, though War of the Worlds is a classic. It must have been pretty amazing when it was broadcast on radio and everyone was getting hysterical. Another one that is worth a look is The Island of Dr Moreau.
Thank you. Your answers have all been in interesting.
@Shirley Martin "What is your favorite thing to do when you are alone?"
Well,....I think you have "chickened out" on me. Whaddaya say?