Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tilting at unread Great Books

Sadeeq is currently reading War and Peace. I read Tolstoy's epic in my callow youth, and, though Sadeeq keeps urging me to go back and reread it, I have thus far resisted his entreaties. There are still so many great books that I haven't read that the idea of going back and rereading a book like War and Peace just doesn't . . . call to me, somehow. There are certain books that I will continue to reread for the rest of my life -- The Lord of the Rings, Dickens, Dostoyevksy, Austen. There are others, like Madame Bovary, that I might reread because they originally left me cold, and I want to make sure I give them a fair shake. But War and Peace fits neither category. I liked it. I even remember it well enough. But my initial reading provoked neither the fascination and enthusiasm that makes for successive rereadings, nor the semi-hostile indifference that causes me to think I missed something.

So War and Peace can sit and wait, and I feel no compunction about leaving it on the shelf, unwept, unhonored, unsung, and unread -- or un-reread, as the case may be. These days, in fact, I feel little compunction about the great books I've never read. I used to feel obligated to read certain books. I thought that I couldn't consider myself a complete human being unless I'd read, say, The Aeneid, or Don Quixote, or Proust. Now? Not so much. I still feel a little twinge about Don Quixote, and I'd like to read it some day, but I don't consider it a sacred obligation. Is it maturity or a pathetic compromise with the drab realities of everyday existence? My younger, cooler, more immature self would have chosen the latter explanation.

But that younger, cooler "text" has been subjected to a little rereading lately.


Blogger stewdog said...

Oh, just get the soundtrack to Man Of LaMancha and be done with it.

November 08, 2007 9:04 PM  

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