5 hours ago
Monday, 18 July 2011
'Great' novelists whom I just don't 'get'.
But, though everybody's tastes shift this way and that over a lifetime, there has been a handful of renowned writers, generally considered in the pantheon of the 'great', which I've never been able to 'tune in' to, though, as in a piece of music I can't understand, I feel the loss is mine, and am really envious of those who are able get onto their particular wavelength.
So here are three authors off the top of my head which I've tussled with all my life, having read several books of each, but every time feel my mind wandering - reading the words but the meaning isn't penetrating. I always get to the end off their books but, immediately on being finished, I'd be hard pressed to describe what I've just read:-
There would be more, but these stand out as writers, reading whose books I feel is like water being poured into a sieve - the sieve, being my mind. Nothing, or very little, is retained.
I say that tastes change, and that certainly has been the case with me. I never really saw the light with Dickens, Jane Austen and Henry James until into my forties - and Iris Murdoch has been one of my more recent 'epiphanies', this latter only occurring about 10 years ago. Now all four of these would be included in my Top 20 writers of all time without a doubt. (Strange that I've never had a problem with Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, generally regarded as being among the 'heavyweights', liking both of them a great deal since my first encounter with them before I was even 20.)
I'd be interested to hear of anyone else's 'blind spots' in authors. If one can't appreciate them I don't think it's anyone's 'fault' in reality, and certainly not the writer him/herself. It all depends on one's own pysche on whether there's a connection or not. I'm not sure that liking an author can be actually 'taught', though having said that I'm very aware that in my school-days it was a particular priest-teacher who revealed to my class the awe-inducing wonder of Shakespeare, when up to then I'd thought him dry as dust. That young priest is whom I am indebted to more than any other in my entire life for helping me discover an appreciation of, not just literature, but culture generally. But that's all veering off the subject. Maybe another time.
As I finish this blog I'm thinking of yet more writers whose works are somehow closed off to my mind, but the list would just go on and on. Anyway, it makes a change from listing one's favourites!