taelle: (Default)
I have read the article about the Heyer bio, and omg, there's Arnie Perlstein in the comments - why does DW have no facepalm emoticons? Also, I can't decide whether I want that bio. With Cartland her bio and her autobiographical writings are actually the most interesting thing about her (though I do like a Cartland on occasion and am still fond of the first ones I've read).

Also, finished watching Britain's Best Drives. Still charmed by Richard Wilson, by landscapes and by the Fifties cars.

I am still reading War and Peace, slowly, because I want to pay attention to things - only, such a lot of unpleasant people. From war we come back to Pierre, and Pierre is quite nasty, imho. Okay, he is childish, passive and, like most of Tolstoy's favourite characters, quite disconnected from reality.

But, his relations with Helene, if you can even call it relations... So there's a beautiful girl he knew slightly when they were children, and now she is a society beauty admired by everyone, and he is rich and courted as a suitable possible husband. And suddenly he manages to notice that she is not a marble statue but a live sexy woman and he wants her. And she apparently enjoys being noticed and wanted. So, what does our hero do? He (a) decides he must marry because he can't get her out of his mind and everyone wants this anyway; and (b) at the same time keeps thinking that this is not love, this is a nasty indecent feeling, and she is stupid and unworthy and anyway people say she had an affair with her own brother. But he is going to marry her anyway, while thinking all this, because she's sexy and her father and friends want this marriage.

Now, I don't know what Helene is thinking (I wouldn't mind knowing it), but if there's something nasty here, Pierre is the main example of this, imho.

* * *

Oct. 7th, 2011 04:53 am
taelle: (Default)
I think I am all out of one-shot drabble ideas. Time to plan - it feels like something longer than a page needs planning. Also it feels like I forgot how to plan stories. At all. Too tired from work, I guess - and work goes too slowly because I am tired.

In an attempt to feel productive I decided to start on the shawl I long ago bookmarked for knitting. Or, well, tried to. Perhaps I am not sensible in trying this -  I am not a good knitter, and I never knitted anything by pattern before. Especially an English-language pattern. Though the problem here is not with translation as such - it's just that I suspect I was taught the basic knit and purl in a manner which is not quite the accepted one, so videos and too detailed pictures give me headaches and I can't really connect them with what I'm doing. Describing the idea of what I have to do works much better.

Anyway, I redid the very beginning two times but the sixth row still doesn't work. I figured out the idea of SSK even if I'm not yet sure I adapted it correctly, but I can't even find a description of a double YO, and what I'm doing clearly isn't working. ... I'm still doing that shawl, so there. Though I might provide all the dolls with scarves on the side just for the sake of completing something.

With Tolstoy, I am at the war already. I just remembered that we're not actually supposed to like Andrei. I think. I mean, Tolstoy tells us straight ahead that he's only nice and approachable to people who think him special and expect great things from him etc. ... I found the Bolkonsky family life rather interesting, btw - so Andrei loves his sister and his father. How nice. Me, I don't like his sister - her saintliness feels a bit too much, and I feel like she's as haughty as her father and her brother, in her own way.

... and it's funny to compare the 'war' bits to Heyer's Infamous Army - the hero was an aide-de-camp too, after all. Though less special than Andrei.

I think I started noticing how Tolstoy is doing what he's doing - seems like defamiliarization is his favourite trick: describing something with no kind of shorthand, like he - and us with him - sees an action  (he's mostly using it for actions and facial expressions, I think) for the first time ever. Possibly for the first time in history. It works - I think that's why everyone and everything is so alive, like we're really seeing everything; but at the same time I feel like it leads to a kind of estrangement, at least for me - we look at those people with such lack of familiarity that they keep being a bit alien, and there's little chance to feel sympathy with their everyday lives.

(I do read my other books too, but slowly. George Eliot's still writing Adam Bede, so I have ways to go with her bio).

* * *

Sep. 29th, 2011 11:07 pm
taelle: (Default)
My brain did not want me to read anything requiring any amount of concentration, so I reread three Christies I remembered worst of all. Still works as comfort reading. Rereading and comfort reading is a curious thing - sometimes a book stops working for you. I used to reread Max Frei to bits until I just couldn't. Suddenly author's world view was too much in my face and too different from mine to enjoy it.

I am fine with other times' views, though - well, mostly fine (I used to like a mystery writer either writing or setting her novels in the 50s and then I reread her books and couldn't stand the way women were treated). I know a lot of people who can't read Austen for reasons ranging from 'these people are busy with stupid things and make mountains out of molehills' to 'the women's lives are intolerable and it is suffocating to read about their powerlessness'. And I know people who find Sayers or Heyer too antisemitic, too homophobic or too... something - which I mostly don't. Okay, Heyer's modern mysteries do read kind of homophobic to me, but somehow the dismissal of a heroine's activities as silly (I do tend to love Heyer's more male-centered novels more) troubles me far more than the image of a stereotypical Jewish moneylender. Maybe because the latter is someone so stereotypical that I just can't relate? A 'type', not a person, which feels more like author's shorthand than conscious attitude.

* * *

Sep. 20th, 2011 04:17 am
taelle: (Default)
It's my favourite weather out there, especially in the evening - this early autumn city weather, when darkness shines with streetlights and the remains of a rain - or promises of a rain. I want to be out walking, but even not thinking about my cough which gets worse after I go out, I'd get tired after twenty minutes.

Weather, please wait for me.

So I've mostly been reading - finished Oldington's bio of the Duke of Wellington (now want more modern treatments as well as more primary sources), and Heyer's Infamous Army (so much love. Even though Heyer's heroes are allowed to be more sensible than heroines. But I like Barbara - and I really like Judith!). Now reading a bio of George Eliot (maybe silly of me - of her books I only ever read a part of Middlemarch and not finished it - I think it was too complicated a read for my state of English back then) and an urban fantasy by Kate Griffin called Madness of Angels. It was a present from a friend and I know nothing about it, but I like sometimes to read books without expectations - expectations weigh on me and make me nervous about what's going to happen in a book and what the author is going to do with her characters and with me. ... anyway, I haven't read much yet, but it's kind of interesting for now.

And I really, really hope I'm not getting a migraine. A migraine is precisely what I do not need.

And I am way too irritable to deal with many of my acquaintances, even if I'm still polite enough not to show it.

* * *

Sep. 15th, 2011 02:55 am
taelle: (Default)
Apparently reading things is still the most soothing occupation. Well, at the present. Doing 3-D wooden models is better, because it occupies my attention more completely, but I don't have any at present. Maybe I should go make a trip to buy some more, for an occastional bad day. The trouble with those models is that I have almost no space for them afterwards. (Cross-stitching, unfortunately, occupies very little of my attention)

Actually, what should occupy my attention is an agreement form for some company to buy some stuff. Or to sell some stuff. Doesn't much matter for the purposes of blogging. But I find it hard to work when I feel really unhappy, and don't have surefire methods of becoming not-unhappy (the worse I feel, the less methods are available to me). BTW, the reasons for my unhappiness are partly unclear even to me and partly too stupid to say aloud. Which, of course, makes it worse.

Perhaps I should rename this blog into something like "Reading notes". Though it doesn't really matter.

Anyway, Oldington's biography of Wellington. In a really bad Russian translation. I still like Wellington (not sure about Oldington, though). And, after some thought, I added as a second book (I do tend to read two books at once) Georgette Heyer's Infamous Army. Which did go some ways towards making me feel better (oh Charles. Oh Barbara. Oh their courtship), until some people said some things and, well... too stupid to say aloud. Perhaps I should also finish Harry Potter and History, but I felt rather bored by the first chapters - too general-knowledge, and, well, too much of 'did you know our real world also has a history of magic' and too little of the analysis of all this in connection with the HP magic and history. Or it may be just me. And I am still too obsessive-compulsive or something to just skip ahead to look for more interesting stuff.

Also, still coughing.

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