April 17

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The purchase of books is mistaken for…

Schopenhauer:

Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.


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  • The art of reading is as difficult to learn as the art of writing.

  • Ramesh: And sometimes the improvement in one diminishes the other.

  • I have got a chance to narrate my reading woes here, Daniel. It all started with Melville’s Moby Dick. Influenced by rave reviews by great writers I bought the book and started reading. A snail would have moved at a greater pace than me. I read line by line, one passage a day, but still it didn’t work. In such a fast-moving world, such a slow reading was not possible though the irony is that there’s no other way — slower way, time-stopping slower way. I told myself reading this tough book will fulfill my spiritual ambitions of attaining a Timeless state and my literary ambitions of reading and writing. Finally I gave up on Melville — finished half the book –hoping to read him at a later time (How can a guy like me stop time when I posit a future!). Luckily, to compensate my failure, I finished Bellow’s Ravelstein and it gave me the confidence that I can take a journey with books. Then I read Dangling Man, a great book and then Humbold’s Gift.

    But my woes haven’t ended — it continues with one of Naipaul’s books. If you have patience I will pour them out.

    Best

  • Ramesh, let it all out here. Moby Dick is hard–there isn’t a great through-line of suspense and rising tension to keep a reader hooked. A lot of great books are like that. “In Search of Lost Time” is not possible, at least for me, to read like a normal novel, where one is excited about how the whole story turns out, although there are sections which are very exciting.

    Sometimes you just have to put yourself in tutelage to the writer, and read the whole thing through, in the faith that there are great things in store. I am delighted I have read “Women in Love,” but reading it was hard work.

  • Thanks Daniel, I haven’t read Women in Love, but only Lady Chatterley’s where each sentence is sensuous and sensational. Last week I started off with DeLillo’s Mao II. The book is about a reclusive novelist, mass mind, terrorism and so on. Somehow I didn’t feel my way through the book With some difficulty I finished some 70-80 pages. Later my interest flagged. I lost patience and hurried through the book in an hour, though that’s not the way to read. Now and then, the dialogues looked fake and the characters didn’t seem real enough. I couldn’t connect with the author totally. Maybe it’s my fault. My feeling is DeLillo had high hopes that a novel could change the consciousness of man.

    I think a writer writes to carve an identity for himself. Of course he does touch a chord in the reader, but his is not an altruistic act unless there is some great truth in him.

    By the way, have you read Anton Chekhov’s play Sea Gull? It’s on the web, downloadable. I would say it’s an amazing play full of innocence and passion. I think all would-be writers must read it.

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