Thursday, January 10, 2008
While the Lazy Hungover Bastard reads the London Library, the English publication of Pierre Bayard's book - amusingly reviewed in the NY Times here - reassure the rest of us that there's really no need. Surprisingly for a French intellectual, Bayard seems fundamentally sound and disarmingly honest in this matter (not that I'm going to bother reading his book, natch). There are, after all, many more way of 'knowing' a book than reading it cover to cover - especially as so much reading is wasted effort. Even the greatest books can contain large amounts of padding - part of the experience of reading, true, but surely optional? - and few prose works demand the total, cover to cover job. As for modern fiction - so much of that is an annoying, frustrating waste of time, so little of it couldn't be brought in at two-thirds the length, that these days I rarely bother with it, unless I have good reason to believe it will be worth the effort. Of most reading, too, as Bayard admits, we remember almost nothing. As for unread great books, I'll happily own up to never having read, strictu sensu, the Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, Paradise Lost, the Aeneid and indeed War and Peace (tho that I shall definitely get round to). Any confessions, bloggers?
Posted by Nige at 10:51 am