Books Read – Jan/Feb 2015

Books read here – and films seen here. Not many in either category. Was distracted in January by life; have read a lot since, but very unfocussed: starting lots of things. Current reading on the left could just as well be replaced by an entirely different list or two of exactly the same length.

  • Vasco Pratolini, Florentine writer. It’s remarkable how similar in structure Family Chronicle is to Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing: i.e. a sibling narrates the life of a younger sibling, who has died young (early 20s), in chronological order, in the second-person singular. The differences are that Pratolini doesn’t impose an unreasonable stream-of-consciousness on his narrative and clearly places the time in which the novel is being written – in the manner of someone who has clearly thought about how their story is constructed. It’s interesting (and short), but nothing more than that.
  • Seems I’m unlikely to finish Casanova this year, now that I’m already a volume behind schedule – not that I was ever expecting to. I might read a few more volumes before commenting on it (because I suspect it’ll be much the same all the way through).
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7 thoughts on “Books Read – Jan/Feb 2015

  1. It has its merits too; there were parts I enjoyed (mostly towards the beginning). The score demonstrates too the fact that, after all, Kafka was the most overrated writer of the c20th, and not Joyce.

    Seriously, I was reading another Walser short story last night, and I was again just struck by the laughable idea of Kafka’s originality, when he just stole everything, everything, from Walser. (Just like the previous Borges/Kipling post I was just re-looking at, I was doing an exercise of reading a Walser and a Kafka story back to back each evening, but the experiment got lost somewhere along the line).

  2. I agree that Walser is quite special. Of course, it’s also theorised that Kafka “stole” his shtick from Bruno Shultz as well, but I’m not sure that there’s any evidence that any of them ever read the others (or if there is evidence, I’ve either never seen it or have chosen to ignore it).

  3. Schultz didn’t publish anything until 10 years after Kafka’s death (plus he helped translate Kafka into Polish, acc to Wikipedia), so on balance maybe it was Kafka who was doing the influencing. On the other hand, Kafka maintains himself that he read and was influenced by Walser.

    One day I’ll read Schultz. Have had him on my shelf for about half my lifetime.

  4. Evidence! All very interesting.

    It seems to me that Kafka is above all uncomfortable with himself, whereas Walser is profoundly ill at ease with the rest of the world. Maybe the two things are linked, or interchangeable.

  5. I will address the subject of the difference between Walser and Kafka at some point; I’ve been thinking about it for a few years now. I think it may just be that Walser was on the whole a bit happier, though this itself may be because he had lost his mind.

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