Tuesday 7 June 2016

What I am reading (including audiobooks)...

If I take the past few weeks as a time-slice - the main things I am reading have been mostly reflected on this blog:

1. Major theme: I am exploring the Romantic Metaphysics tradition (I just made-up that name) of Coleridge, Steiner, Barfield and Arkle - by various combinations of slow intensive reading, listening to bits read aloud (this applies mainly to the Steiner, which is available in this form - but my Kindle will read aloud any book, albeit in a robotic and badly-emphasised fashion) and almost random dippings-in by impulse. A bit of Traherne.

2. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - yes... I'm afraid I am listening again to this as an audiobook - from the beginning. And loving it.

3. Tolkien - dipping mainly, but I re-read The Notion Club Papers (nth time), and looking through bits of the History of Middle Earth, and favourite parts of Lord of the Rings; listening (in the car) to Smith of Wootton Major. I tried to listen to The Children of Hurin read by Christopher Lee, but did not like the work or the reading of it.

4. Again in the car, I listened to the funny stories and verse of a Northumbrian farmer - about farming life - called Henry Brewis - who issued three CDs in the 1990s.

5. I have watched a couple of Shakespeare plays on DVD and read in Sam Johnson's and Coleridge's Shakespearian crit.

6. Read various poems from Palgrave's Golden Treasury.

7. Tried to read A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay, but gave up 1/3 of the way through from lack of interest.

8. Bedtime reading aloud (to my wife) - Finished one Miss Read 'Fairacre' novel by Miss Read, and started another - in between got more than halfway through RL Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey (a re-read, maybe fourth time including talking books?) but it didn't work terribly well read aloud and unedited.

9. Family listening in the car - Terry Pratchett - finished Small Gods, am most way through Soul Music.

10. Ground to a halt in listening to an audiobook of the Emerson biography by Robert D Richardson - a book I used to love to the point of obsession, but I now find Emerson too annoying with his multiple proto-progressive views (supported strongly by the biographer).

11. Not much scripture - mainly the Gospel of John.

12. Continuing my rather slow progression through Terryl Givens's Wrestling the Angel account of Mormon theology.

Probably more - the large number of works is mainly a reflection of my rather desultory current habits, as I drift from one thing to another...

The reason for so much 'audio' reading is that I listen to books - or cricket - while doing cooking and other kitchen chores.

(When I say 'cooking' I should really write 'food preparation' - of which I do a lot which is necessary and also something I am happy to do for the family; although I very seldom really cook anything. I don't hate it, and I like mealtimes and getting drinks and snacks etc for the family members - but cooking does not give me any intrinsic satisfaction. I have never made a meal I was 'proud of'.)


David Balfour said...

I was just wondering whether there may be permission or interest to produce read audio files of William Arkles essays and books for publishing on your site or elsewhere. I have enjoyed reading his work enormously but an audio version may prove a more accessible format for others. Just a thought? But then of course is the question who would do it justice as a narrator?

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - I have thought about this too. I don't suppose there would be much interest (given the response to my stuff about Arkle, so far) but even if a handful of people found it valuable that would be enough. I think a YouTube reading of Letter from a Father would be a good start.

I will ask Dale Brunsvold whether he would consider doing it (the chap that reads-out Steiner on http://www.rudolfsteineraudio.com - lovely voice!)... he could only say no!

J. B. said...

"7. Tried to read A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay, but gave up 1/3 of the way through from lack of interest."

You are wise — that is what I wish I had done. I read it all the way through hoping that at some point he would explain. But no.

Thursday said...

I have been slowly working my way through as many film, audio and TV versions of Shakespeare as I can. I have got through quite a number of them. Here are the performances I have particularly enjoyed. They aren't all perfect by any means, but all are very worthwhile. Some are absolutely splendid.



Olivier’s Henry V
Welles’ Othello
Welles’ Chimes at Midnight (based on the Henry IV plays)
Kosintsev’s King Lear (in Russian)
Mankiewicz’ Julius Caesar



Nunn’s Macbeth (with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench)
Nunn’s Merchant of Venice
Branagh’s Twelfth Night
Jonathan Miller’s Othello (with Anthony Hopkins and Bob Hoskins) - this is mainly just for Hoskins' splendid version of Iago, with the rest of the production rather mediocre.
Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing - much better than the Branagh film



Hamlet (with John Gielgud)
Romeo and Juliet (with Kate Beckinsale)
The Tempest (with Ian McKellen)
The Winter's Tale (with John Gielgud)
As You Like It (with Vanessa Redgrave)

Thursday said...

I have also been listening to the audio lectures on Shakespeare's Tragedies from The Great Courses (formerly known as The Teaching Company).

The lecturer, Clare R. Kinney, takes the line that Shakespeare is upsetting hierarchies and exposing stereotypes, but despite all this (which should completely ruin the lectures) she is actually extremely insightful. Some of the best Shakespeare criticism I've ever encountered.

With a subscription to Audible.com, you can get many of The Great Courses lecture series for extremely cheap.

drizzz said...

Although he's famous for a Voyage to Arcturus, the Lindsay books I greatly enjoyed were: The Haunted Woman, The Sphinx and The Violet Apple (this one is very hard to find, I got it through the local library). His Devil's Tor started out great and quickly unraveled and became unreadable. I found his book The Witch to be equally unreadable. Speaking of books, you may or may not be interested in an upcoming biography of Colin Wilson written by Gary Lachman (of Blondie fame), he has also written a biography of Rudolf Steiner. http://occultum.net/an-interview-with-gary-lachman/

David Balfour said...

Excellent. I would personally like a copy to listen to in the park on walks or driving in my car to work. It has a very positive effect on me just by listening to it. Lets hope he says yes.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Drizz - I don't really feel motivated to read more Lindsay; although I might finish Arcturus at some point. I didn't dislike it but neither did I enjoy it. Last weekend I re-read CW's essay on him in The Books In My Life- which is one of my favourite of CW's books.

I will probably buy Lachman's biography, although I would be surprised if he came up with much new (Wilson write a very detailed autobiography - well two actually) - I've read Lachman's books on Steiner and Swedenborg, and he was a contributor to a small Wilson-oriented magazine called Abraxas which I also used to write for.

BTW I've always thought the Blondie connection was a bit tenuous - a journalistic hook rather than anything to do with the actual famous band that made the great records. Like the chap who write Driving Over Lemons - Chris Stewart - who was supposed to have been the Genesis drummer because - in effect - he played in a school band with some of the other members before they did anything for which they are remembered.