Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sleep is good, he said, And books are better - George R R Martin

Since starting my new job, I've had little time to sit and relax online. Or to do anything much else either, if I'm honest. Still, reviews by my fellow bloggers of their exploits during 2013 have not escaped my notice. Much to my chagrin.

My proud boast of having read 30 or so books last year now leaves me somewhat red-faced. I think I must be a laughing stock in the book blogging world where everyone seems to manage at least 80 or so books in 12 months. At least. And that, it would seem, is not always a good year. I can only be left wondering how they do it. Any hints, advice or explanations would be welcome.

In the meantime, I press on with Jane Austen. My latest re-read has been Northanger Abbey. Never one of my favourites. An opinion which remains unchanged.

It's a sweet enough tale. But not a page-turner for me. Possibly because I have little sympathy with the heroine, Catherine Morland. She's a tad wet for my liking. Her mind is weak, her judgment obtuse. JA usually can be relied on for much better.

Still, I find the author's voice as entertaining as ever. Note her remarks on dressing to impress. "Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction", she warns, because men remain insensible to the new clothes women take so much time over in order to impress them. She continues: "It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire... woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter".

With regard to the mortification Catherine feels in her inability to understand a conversation with the Tilneys, the author chides: "(It was) a misplaced shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well she can".

Is that a tad harsh, I wonder? I'm not altogether sure. But they may be arguments I adopt in the future. To explain away anything. And everything. I have the misfortune of knowing something...

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