Saturday, November 26, 2016

Longer books

It does look like I am slowly migrating to longer novels.  I'm a few chapters into Butler's The Way of All Flesh.  In a couple of weeks I should be tackling David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, and then I hope to wrap up 2016 with Vanity Fair.

At one point, I had Trollope's The Way We Live Now just a few slots behind Vanity Fair, but I just think I would be better off trying to end (rather than start) 2017 with that whale of a novel.

Still, 2017 should have quite a few fairly long novels, including Humphrey Clinker, Murakami's 1Q84, Gaskell's North and South and maybe Wives and Daughters, though that may actually be carried over into 2018.
Then I will be mostly back to shorter works, with a few exceptions: I am hoping to tackle Bennett The Old Wives' Tale in the late spring or summer and Gregor von Rezzori's Death of My Brother Abel* in the fall.  Then Trollope in the winter.

At some point I need to start in on Dickens again, but you do need to be in the right frame of mind (and have some leisure time available) for most of his novels.  At any rate, I am doing what I can to get through this massive backlog.

* I decided that it was really a terrible shame that Cain (von Rezzori's final, unfinished novel) was not translated into English, so I wrote to NYRB (my favorite publisher) and asked if they were considering commissioning a translation -- and perhaps pairing it with Death of My Brother Abel.  Apparently, von Rezzori was deeply inspired by Musil's The Man Without Qualities, and when these two works are put together they do have quite a few parallels with The Man Without Qualities.  Imagine my surprise when I got a message back within 24 hours that they were going to be doing precisely that (combining the two) and that it would be coming out in 2018.  While that is quite a while away, I have plenty to read in the meantime.  What does leave me a little conflicted is that they will be having a new translation of Death of My Brother Abel prepared, and I never really know how to judge dueling translations.  Should I read the existing translation, and at some point try to compare the two?  Normally I would not plan on rereading such a long book in two translations (though I suppose eventually I will be doing this with The Brothers Karamazov -- though not War and Peace!).  From what I know of it, Death of My Brother Abel probably does merit this level of attention.  I think I will stick to my plan to read it by this fall.  Then in 2018 or so I will finally have a chance to tackle The Man Without Qualities (maybe that will be the show-stopper in Dec. 2018), and then by 2019 or so I can read the new Abel/Cain combo.

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