Wednesday, December 03, 2014

I'm Sorry, Mr. Korzeniowsky

These past few years, I've been bounding like crazy through 19th and early 20th century novels:

I've read George Eliot (YAY Middlemarch!)
I've read Thomas Hardy
I've read Jane Austen (Persuasion..sigh...)
I've read George Moore
I've read George Gissing
I've read Emile Zola
I've read Henry James (Turn of the Screw was cool, What Maisie Knew -- that hurt my head. After Washington Square, I'm done.)
I've read Edith Wharton (not everything, but I want to)
I've read Virginia Woolf  (I like the essays better than the novels -- sorry, Gin.)
I've read Mark Twain
I've read Stephen Crane
I've read Louisa May Alcott (not her thriller stuff, but I really want to)
I've read Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter, yeah, but still trying to gear up for The Blithedale Romance.)
I've read Herman Melville (Loved Moby-Dick, still annoyed about Pierre, though.)
I've read Charles Dickens
I've read Katherine Mansfield (girl crushing all the way)
I've read D.H. Lawrence
I've read M.E. Braddon
I've read The Brontes (2 Charlotte 1 Anne and the Emily...plan to complete The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Vilette, and The Professor one of these days when I'm feeling the moors)
I've read Tolstoy
I've read Doestoyevsky
I've read Chekov

[Edited to add:  I've read Theodore Dreiser.]

There's some people I haven't gotten to yet and it is my sincere intention to read at least one of their books:

I want to read Mrs. Gaskell  (Not sure which one...taking recommendations)
I want to read Theodor Fontane (Effi Briest)
I want to read Honore de Balzac (Cousin Bette)
I want to read Thomas Mann (Not sure about which one here, either)
I want to read James Joyce (Truthfully, just Dubliners, then I'll see how I feel)

By now, one name that's missing should be sticking up like a sore thumb, like a thumb with the biggest paper cut in the world.


Joseph Conrad.  I haven't read him, not a single word.  I don't want to read him.  I don't know why, but when I think of reading him, I feel distaste at best and a mild panic at the worst.

This aversion to Conrad has been going on since my university days, and has gotten worse over the years.  Why do I dislike the thought of reading Joseph Conrad?  He never did anything to me.

I tried to beat it several years ago when Pablo told me Nostromo was "a cracking read".  I couldn't get past the cover.

 I have bought and discarded several paperback copies of Heart of Darkness.  There's a copy on my Kindle, but it's in the cloud, where it can't reproach me.

I thought I could get things going with The Secret Agent after reading a description a while back, but nothing came of it.

This repugnance and avoidance baffles me and makes me feel ashamed, and a sham.  I'm not a real English major if I haven't read Conrad.  I'm also not a real EFL teacher, either -- Polish was Conrad's first language; English but one of his second languages.

But I've got this block.  Do psychoanalysts address literary sorts of things?


Anonymous said...

You post today made me smile.

I recommend Cranford for Gaskell. I think it's her best work. I also liked Wives and Daughters, at least the first half, quite a lot.

I'm with you on just reading Dubliners. Dubliners is wonderful.

As for Conrad, just smile slightly when people mention him and shrug your shoulders a little bit in a 'meh' sort of way. People will understand and move quickly on to other topics.

Bybee said...

Thanks for the recommendation!

Anonymous said...

I have not read all of the authors on your list but I have read Conrad. "Nostromo" is probably the worst one to start with, it is quite a difficult read, though worth it in my opinion. "Heart of Darkness" has the advantage of being short. "Under Western Eyes" and "Lord Jim" would also be good introductions.

Bybee said...

Thanks for your guidance, Anon!