Sorry, I haven't been very communicative the last few weeks! I've skipped Weekly Geeks and my Thursday is for Something New too many times. So I'm trying to be a good boy, now, and luckily Weekly Geeks is making it easy for me - this weeks question is an easy one:
I think just about every reader has a least one book that they've been meaning to read for awhile (months or even years) but, for one reason or another, they just haven't gotten around to it. Maybe it's a book a friend recommended last year, or a title you've flirted with in a bookstore on more than one occasion, or maybe it's a book that's sitting right there on your bookshelf, patiently waiting for you to pick it up -- but the thought is always there, in the back of your mind: Why haven't I read this yet?
This week, tell us about a book (or books) you have been meaning to read. What is it? How long have you wanted to read it? And, why haven't you read it yet?
I have wanted to read this book FOR.E.VER. I think the first time I thought so was late in high school, so that would make about 10-12 years, now. It's sitting on my shelf, staring at me, glowering at me even. It probably feels hurt. I've started reading it several times, even. And, the thing is, I've ENJOYED what I've read. But I've never finished it.
I latched onto this books for good reason. It has so many things I love in it. It's an epic poem, with folklore, religious symbolism, and rich, Elizabethan language. In the first book, an Arthurian knight-hero wounds a dragon who begins bleeding book pages (which is one of the most startling images in literature, btw, even if it's just anti-papacy stuff). This book is perfect for me.
It's very thick of course, and that has SOMETHING to do with my lack of finishing it. My copy is 1055 pages long, plus footnotes, and that's 1055 pages of old poetry, with old spelling and diction. Witness:
A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,Reading the Faerie Queene is hard work.
Y cladd in mightie armmes and siluer shielde,
Whereing old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,
The cruell markes of many a bloudy fielde;
I could make the argument that this is why I haven't read it. But I've read some hard books, after all, through my life, so it can't be only this. It's hard to read a book like this, these days, because my reading is mostly limited to what I squeeze in between other parts of my day (e.g., reading a chapter while stirring the soup, or in the hallway at work on my way to a ticket). That won't work with this book - I have to concentrate a little, and there's footnoes, lots of 'em. hard to read footnotes while walking down the hall (which isn't to say I've never done it...).
More than this, though, there's a feeling every time I've started the Faerie Queene, of a grand sweep that, while wonderfully attractive, is a little intimidating. Books with a grand sweep tend to fold me in and stick with me, to change me (witness, for instance, Lord of the Rings, Les Miserables, Wuthering Heights). And... I just don't know enough, I guess, to feel safe with that. Edmund Spenser is too far away, I don't know who he is. Victor Hugo, I know somewhat who he is, I have my ideas of him. Tolkien is the same. Emily Bronte... well, I won't get into my relationship with the Brontes. But, Edmund Spenser is long ago and far away, and there's something about walking hand in hand with someone into a big, grand world, that makes you want to feel you can trust them. Like I've talked about before, reading a book for me is as much an experience of a writer as of their writing.
I do have it on my list, and I intend to try to read it this coming year, actually (alongside my other two upcoming big-hard-books: Finnegan's Wake (which I reserve to right to reject if it ends up being total nonsense) and Capital). And I really do intend to read it. Maybe I NEED to learn from it, learn to trust people a little more, learn to enjoy a world for what it is and not for the God it serves (in literature, God being the author). We'll see. I dunno, though, look at the picture - doesn't Spenser kind of look like the Devil in a Tudor Collar?