November 19, 2004

More Shamefully Gratuitous Holiday Book Blegging

It's something of a tradition in my family that I'm not allowed to go to a bookstore any time between Halloween and my birthday in late January, for fear that I will wind up buying something someone else had meant to give as a present, thereby laying them a dead stymie. (The tradition is built, in part, on the horrid urban legend that it is difficult to shop for me.)

Anyhoo, as some of you know, I've been posting a few books that I would like to receive, in the hope that Santa is a fan of the Llamas or else that members of my family will pass on the information to him. Here are a couple more:


A Dance To The Music of Time, Vol. 1., by Anthony Powell. Back in September, some of the members of the bloggy literary circle, round the edges of which I hover (Mr. Soames and Stephen of Stephenesque come to mind), recommended that I give Powell a try, given my Waugh-like temperment. I am all for it. If Volume One pans out, then Volumes Two through Four can be considered gimmes for the ol' birthday.

pearcelewis.jpg durieztolkien.jpg

C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church, by Joseph Pearce, and Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship, by Colin Duriez. (Amazon offers them as a nifty twofer.) I've read a good bit of Lewis and a lot of Tolkien, but never that much about either man. Indeed, it was only recently that I was rather astonished to learn Lewis was not Catholic, despite his very, very Catholic-sounding theology. This bears considerable more investigation on my part, especially given my own recently reignited questioning.


21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey, by Patrick O'Brian. This is the rough, three-chapter draft of the Aubrey/Maturin novel O'Brian was working on when he died and would have been the 21st of the series, as the title implies. I thought I had read at one point that O'Brian's estate did not want this book published, but never followed the story that closely. Either my memory fails me or else the objections were overcome.

Actually, I am extremely torn about this book. On the one hand, it would complete my set, of course. It also would be a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of O'Brian's craft, much the way Sunset at Blandings, P.G. Wodehouse's last, incomplete novel, was of his work.

On the other hand, I find I am much more emotionally involved in O'Brian's work than Wodehouse's. The keen pleasure I derive from reading and rereading the adventures of Aubrey and Maturin up to and including The Wine-Dark Sea, the 16th in the series, is offset by my distress over the last four complete novels (The Commodore, The Yellow Admiral, The Hundred Days and Blue at the Mizzen), which encompass such a decline in spirit, such a fall from greatness, as to be painful to read. I can read Sunset at Blandings with detached interest. I'm not so sure I could do so with 21. Has anyone else out there read this book? If so, please let me know what you think about it.

Posted by Robert at November 19, 2004 10:23 AM | TrackBack

I'm only up to book three. It's kind of neat knowing I have so much good stuff ahead of me.

Posted by: Ith at November 19, 2004 01:09 PM

Do get the Powell...I am sure you will enjoy it. If you are a fan of EW, you will like AP...Be careful of 21...It does not fit with the rest of the Norton set, since it is much larger and reading it is a mixed blessing...It is very, very rough and in order to read the climax in the third chapter you have to decipher PO's handwriting, which is not an easy thing to do...I personally was somewhat dissapointed, it seemed out of joint and the tone was off, this may be due to the fact that I read it cold and had not led up to it by re-reading the other novels...but, as I said, be careful with this one, it may be best to let it go unread...

Posted by: Enoch Soames at November 19, 2004 02:15 PM

Llama Man,

I don't know about Joseph Pearce's book on Lewis but I did hear him lecture at a Lewis and Tolkien conference earlier this year. He is from England and is considered a GK Chesterton expert. His bio includes being a skinhead gang member in his youth. Religious conversion marked the turning point in his life. He is an engaging fellow but I can't speak to his writing. At present I believe he is a visiting professor or writer-in-residence somewhere in Florida. I believe he was at Ave Maria College in Ann Arbor, MI before that.

Posted by: Pilgrim at November 19, 2004 02:25 PM

I too have read the entire series. I did not know of the existance of the unfinished 21st. Thanks for letting me know..I think I'll buy/borrow a copy, but I will probably regret it in the morning.

Posted by: EdWonk at November 20, 2004 02:12 PM

Robert, I always love your book pics. Thanks for posting your literary cravings, now I can add them to my own.

Posted by: Rae at November 22, 2004 01:26 AM

//I was rather astonished to learn Lewis was not Catholic//

Lewis was an Ulster protestant, which makes his friendship with Tolkien, a very devout Catholic, atypical to say the least.

f you're interested in Tolkien, Lewis, and religion check out the collection of essays that Pearce edited (Tolkien - A Celebration) - some pretty interesting things.)

Posted by: Dan at November 22, 2004 03:39 PM
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