Monday, May 2, 2016

"Best Books You Never Finished"

An Ideal Bookshelf

The title of this post is part of a Books With Spines series sponsored by the National Association of Scholars. Readers were asked to submit titles of best books they never finished. Today I got an email announcing the selections. The usual culprits were on the list: Moby Dick; The Confidence Man (Melville is obviously hard going); The Life of Johnson; Swann's Way. They would have been on my list, too, although I once did try to read The Confidence Man. I made no suggestions, as there are simply too many best books I haven't read! (I have finished Kristen Lavransdatter, however, which is also on the list. It was during a long graduate school weekend, a time when I seem to have had more time to read than I do today.)

Also on the list was Goethe's Italian Journey. This is the comment by the person who suggested it:

 "Goethe's appeal, like Pushkin's, does not travel well into English and in particular the sensibility of the English speaking world. Where Anthony Daniel's travel writing is always vivid moving, politically and existentially intense, Goethe's trip to Italy reads like the diary of a tourist to whom nothing interesting or out of the ordinary ever happens."

I understand the sentiments of people who don't read German, but who in the heck is Anthony Daniel? Is he an undiscovered 18th-century writer?

I don't think I agree with what is said about Pushkin, although maybe it is the poetry that is meant here.

Picture credit: Jane Mount

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