Archive for January 2014

Book Review: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Bleak House by Charles Dickens Phew! I managed to finish the whole thing! I think this was the first Dickens novel I read in full, at least that I can recall, and it was quite an experience.

It’s a hefty tome, especially in terms of the often weighty language and cast of characters. (I wish I’d taken notes or had a list of who’s who to refer to as I read along. Though sometimes it seemed like there were only 30 people in England at this time, and they all knew each other.) I often had to reread passages to grasp was what going on, or go back to a previous chapter to remember if I’d seen a certain character before, and I’m sure I missed some clever coincidences or small events that played into the bigger story.

Despite all this, I did enjoy reading it, though I feel I’d need to reread the whole book to really see all that was going on, and to appreciate the writing more fully. Maybe someday.

Article: Writers attack ‘overrated’ Anglo-American literature at Jaipur festival

Writers attack ‘overrated’ Anglo-American literature at Jaipur festival

“Xiaolu Guo warns that English-language mainstream has warped a broader ‘reading habit’, on panel with Jhumpa Lahiri and Jonathan Franzen”

(From The Guardian, January 20, 2014)

Some of the points brought up in the article are interesting, and I think fair ones. The comment about American culture being so pervasive throughout the world, so much to push out local cultures or affect interest in them, is definitely something to be concerned about. Not only in literature, but other forms of entertainment, as well as food, culture, and so on.

And there’s definitely plenty of overrated American literature out there, often written in a very formulaic or boring way. I would love to see more emphasis on supporting and translating works from other countries, but given the current culture here, I don’t know if it’ll happen. Considering that they will subtitle some British TV shows when airing them in the US, that tells you plenty.

What do you think?

Article: Brain function “boosted for days after reading a novel”

Brain function “boosted for days after reading a novel”

“Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.”

(From The Independent, December 28, 2013)