First, about two days ago, I read (or more accurately) skimmed through Thesaurus of Book Digests, looking for new novels to read: I’m not very much fond of plays, and while I can appreciate well-written poetry, I’m partial toward the art of prose. Out of the 800 pages I was able to single out seven works:
1. Hyperion – Friedrich Holderlin
2. Man’s Fate – Andre Malraux
3. Meek Heritage – F. E. Sillanpaa
4. Pepita Jimenez – Juan Valera
5. The Vortex – Jose Eustacio Rivera
6. Nonsense Novels – Stephen Leacock
7. The Wandering Jew – Eugene Sue
After realizing that The Wandering Jew was more than a thousand pages long, I scratched it out from my to-read list, and realized that aside from Man’s Fate (after careful searching on eBay and other online book marketplaces), the other novels were out-of-print. Most unforgivably expensive is Rivera’s La Voragine (The Vortex), which would cost me $80 if I ever planned to obtain it. The rest are within my spending capabilities, although they would still cost me more than run-of-the-mill popular novels. I hope to buy one novel for the each of the succeeding months: perhaps The Vortex may be the last among them.
The list made me realize only one thing: I guess I am a bit more than merely peculiar with my book choices. I did skim through a Thesaurus of Book Digests so that alone is already telling. I plan to read Marcel Proust next, because I don’t think I can properly assess either my dislike or like for him if I never even read through a single work of his.
Second, I am surprised that I like Jane Eyre as much as I do. But then, its Wikipedia entry says that ‘Charlotte Brontë has been called the “first historian of the private consciousness” and the literary ancestor of writers like Joyce and Proust.’ Before Joyce went mad with Finnegans Wake, his writing was excellent, intelligent, and introspective – I found certain similarities between his Portrait of an Artist and Jane Eyre’s explication of herself.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised now.