THE GREEK HISTORY program continues. Oh dear–it’s unnecessary to start at the beginning of each history. All commence with the polis in the Archaic period. I’m used to literature, where you have to read the whole book to understand the form and the theme, but clearly Cartledge’s Ancient Greece: A History of Eleven Cities is designed for skipping around. Kitto is a more literary writer, and his book The Greeks is more ambitious, reading like a long essay. But I’m going to have to skip ahead to the fifth century so I don’t duplicate the material again, again, and again.
Today I added The Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World to the stack–but, alas, the focus on literature is not what I need–though the essays look brilliant and fascinating. I hardly need at this point in my life to read essays about Homer, Hesiod, myth, the lyric poets, and the playwrights. No, I’m looking for straight, boring history (only a week and a half more of this, thank God!). And now I’ll get hooked on literary history and criticism again.
ANNA KARENINA: Kitty is pregnant, Dolly and the children are visiting, and they attempt to make a match between Levin’s brother and Varenka, the do-gooding friend Kitty made in Germany. The two single people go mushrooming with the children, and this is meant to be the opportunity for Koznyshev’s proposal, but he is a reluctant suitor and gets irritated when Varenka speaks of the mushrooms to fill a gap in the conversation. Both, however, seem relieved when the moment passes. I always want Varenka to marry Koznshev, though. And every time I read it I expect a different ending. Tolstoy is so vivid. Again, why read anything but AK?
EDGERTON: I finished Clyde Edgertons Raney, and though it’s a promising first novel, it is uneven. I love Edgerton’s writing and I look forward to reading his later books, but the last 100 pages of Raney abruptly sped up, some of the episodes are sketched instead of lovingly developed,, and Raney gives in to Charles on too many issues to be believable. Charles’ character is developed somewhat during counseling sessions, and Raney learns more about his feelings and his liberal politics as a result. But Raney, who is very strong-willed and conservative, becomes liberal too quickly. I did not for a minute believe she would accept Charles’ porn magazines. And at the end of the novel he actually asks her to switch from the Baptist church to the Episcopalian. Heavens, Raney would never do that! But… So much talent, but the later books must be better.