Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Count of Monte Cristo: Reading Schedule

We've revived this blog from its deep freeze.  Do people even blog anymore?  Didn't microblogging kill the blog like video killed the radio star?  Anyway, I'm hopeful that there will be actual blog posts about The Count of Monte Cristo that will follow this post.  I'm somewhere around chapter 12 or something, and, granted, I'm given to hyperbole, but I have the distinct feeling already that this may end up being one of the best books I'll ever read.  It's simply amazing how gripping it is.  It's cartoonishly simple while just rich enough with historical and psychological detail, without any excess or wasted description or narrative flab. 

Anyway, more on all that later.  My Penguin edition of the book is 1078 pages long.  I'd say we'll need roughly two months to finish.  Assuming you were to start today, that would be a pace of about 17 pages a day, which is entirely doable.  So let's say we will aim to finish by October the Fifth, which happens to be the title of chapter CXVII (117), the last chapter of the book.  On this schedule, we'll be reading roughly 14 chapters a week. 

So, week-by-week, this is the schedule:

8/6-13:  Chs. 1-14

8/13-20: Chs. 15-29

8/20-27: Chs. 30-44

8/27-9/3: Chs. 45-59

9/3-10: Chs. 60-74

9/10-17: Chs. 75-89

9/17-24: Chs. 90-104

9/24-10/1: Chs. 105-117

Bonne chance, bitchez!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nicholas Nickleby Reading Schedule

Sorry, this is super-late.  But here it is: your belated Nicholas Nickleby reading schedule.

There are sixty-five (65) chapters in the book.  I know we "started" a while back, but this schedule assumes that you haven't read a page yet.  The goal is to finish by 7/14/14, which is eight weeks from now.  The pace is about nine chapters a week.  A chapter a day, plus a few more on the weekends.  You can do it.

6/2 - Through Ch. 9

6/9 - Through Ch. 18

6/16 - Through Ch. 27

6/23 - Through Ch. 36

6/30 - Through Ch. 45

7/7 - Through Ch. 54

7/14 - Through Ch. 65 (END)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Present Perfect

In thinking about my final thoughts on David Copperfield, I came across the following passage from Peter Ackroyd's massive 1990 biography, Dickens; Ackroyd's observations mirrored many of my own, and I figured I couldn't much improve on them:
Of course we might say in the modern idiom that this is a fiction which is really "about" itself.  It is both a novel of memories and a novel about memory.  Memory brightens: ". . . I have never seen such sunlight as on those bright April afternoons . . ."; memory creates in the mind fresh associations: " . . . the Martyrs and Peggotty's house have been inseparable in my mind ever since, and are now;" memory revives the clearest and most detailed impressions: "the scent of a geranium leaf, at this day, strikes me with a half comical, half serious wonder as to what change has come over me in a moment . . . ;" memory retains the sharpest of all impressions: "the face he turned up to the troubled sky, the quivering of his clasped hands, the agony of his figure, remain associated with that lonely waste, in my remembrance, to this hour.  It is always night there, and he is the only object in the scene."  And memory brings back the earliest and most permanent impressions of childhood, like the occasion when David sees his mother for the last time: "I was in the carrier's cart when I heard her calling to me.  I looked out, and she stood at the garden-gate alone; holding her baby up in her arms for me to see.  It was cold still weather; and not a hair of her head, or a fold of her dress, was stirred, as she looked intently at me, holding up her child.  So I lost her.  So I saw her afterwards, in my sleep at school -- a silent presence near my bed -- looking at me with the same intent face -- holding up her baby in her arms."  But there is also the mystery of other memories, preconscious memories: ". . . a feeling, that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing, having been said and done before, in a remote time . . ."  Memory, then, as a form of resurrection and thus of human triumph; as David Copperfield looks out the window he had known so many years before and sees the old sorrowful image of himself as a child.  "Long miles of road then opened out before my mind, and, toiling on, I saw a ragged wayworn boy forsaken and neglected, who should come to call even the heart now beating against mine, his own."  Thus does memory recreate the self out of adversity, linking past and present, bringing continuity and coherence, engendering peace and stillness in the very centre of the world.  It is the purest and best part of Dickens's self, the source of his being, the fountain of his tears.  All of his writing and experience over the last two years had brought him to this point, this resurrection.
Dickens, 606-607.

I was struck, again and again throughout the book, with instances in which Dickens described himself, sitting at his desk, writing, perhaps looking up, seeing a face from his memory floating before him, as he worked to fix the phantoms of his memory on the page.  Dickens makes it clear in the writing of the book that he is limited to the present in which he is writing, and the past is available only to the extent he can access it or reimagine it in the present.  He is recording his memories, but only as they come to him or appear to him at the moment he is fixing those memories on paper.

Dickens recognizes in his narrative choices in Copperfield that the present, composite and determined as it is, is a prison, of sorts.  The past exists only insofar or only in the form in which we are able -- or choose -- to remember it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An American Summer: Faulkner and Hemingway

So the voting ended up in a tie between Faulkner and Hemingway.  We had a dramatic one-day tweet-off.  The results: we voted to leave the Eurozone.  Just kidding.  Faulkner squeaked by.  But there was a lot of gnashing of teeth, so we'll do this: Faulkner in July, Hemingway in August.

You can start Absalom, Absalom! anytime.  We'll plan to finish by the end of July.  It's not a super-long book.  There are nine chapters.  We'll read like two-and-a-half chapters a week.

As always, please try to trick your friends into joining us.  And please let me know if the spirit moves you and you want to post something about the reading on the blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vote for our next book

I finally motivated to delete some of the ancient items in the sidebars and set up a new poll for our next book.  So go ahead, random strangers, and help us pick our next book by voting in the sidebar to the right.  Right over there =======>  

One thing: I'd ask that if you vote, you make a good faith effort to try to actually read the book with the group, and maybe even participate with a tweet or blog comment or two.  It makes me so happy to receive signs of life from out there.

If you don't like the choices offered in the poll, feel free to leave your write-in selection below in the comments.

The poll closes on June 21.  We'll start reading on June 22.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's Summertime Again!

Arghhh. So busy. STILL trying to finish DAVID COPPERFIELD. I will. I really will. Meanwhile, I'm thinking of some Fun Summer Projects for us. Please tweet at me with book picks or leave a comment below. Here are some possibilities for our collective attention this summer:

- ABSALOM, ABSALOM! - Faulkner


- VANITY FAIR - Thackeray




- EMMA - Austen



A side project, for those of you who might want to brush up on your Spanish, is to attempt to read Carlos Fuentes's TERRA NOSTRA in Spanish. That'll be a longer-term project, as it's a long book, and it'll be slow going for those of us who are not at native-level Spanish reading and comprehension. But things are even weirder and more amazing when you don't fully understand them!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

David Copperfield Update

We are reading this book. (There have been some inquiries.) I'm running a little behind getting posts up on Copperfield, as I've been trying to round up some final posts on Nixonland. (Send me your posts if you have them!) Let me know if you'd like to put up a post or two on Copperfield. I would appreciate it!