Sunday, November 20, 2011

Laughing, Forgetting

Didn't get a vast amount of reading done in China, but enjoyed the to-ing and fro-ing of ideas between agile minds as a compensation. Like to think I threw a few thought-bombs in there myself. Hope the casualties benefit from their wounds.

But this is not to say I didn't accomplish anything in terms of grappling with the printed page. I reread the Lu Xun stories I'd put up for discussion just so I wouldn't get completely lost and, to my deep gratification, Medicine came stunningly alive for me as it had never done before. Actually got goose bumps on the last page.

I also made a start on Walden, which I've been meaning to do for ages, but this was only on the last couple of days. Still on the Economy chapter, but enjoying a slow, appreciative read - the only kind that really works with Thoreau, I suspect.

Fortunately I found the perfect read for this trip in Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel, a short book comprising seven pieces - interviews, addresses, that sort of thing - centring on the nature of fiction. This was given to me by Natalie as a present for Teachers' Day and I'm glad she did because I would never have thought to read it otherwise. (Worried Disclaimer: Any of my students reading this, please don't take it that it's a good idea to give me books, if you happen to be feeling generous - and there's no reason to think you should be. I'm more than happy with your simple good wishes.)

Kundera's little book has more dazzling, disturbing ideas per page than it's wise for any man (or woman) to expose himself (or herself) to. Perfect reading for the dissident in any repressive republic. Thought bombs to shake all varieties of walls.

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