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Thread: The Modern Library 100 -Off The Shelf, Dusted and Done

  1. #1
    Registered User Prince Smiles's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
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    The Modern Library 100 -Off The Shelf, Dusted and Done


    Reading my way through the Modern Library 100 Best Novels, there are actually 121 books, to get all pedantic like:

    U.S.A: a trilogy
    Studs Lonigan: tree books as well (excuse el àrbol, it's the Joyce, not me)
    Dance To The Music Of Time: 11 books (enjoyable read, not dissimilar to Mitford or Waugh)
    Parade's End: 4 volumes
    The Alexandria Quartet: 4 bookey wookeeis

    I think that equates hyaku nijuu-ichi. Arithmetic was never my strong ensemble.

    Yes, reading though the Modern Library list, I often wondered lonely as a crowd what the very last word at the end of this insanity would be, and yes, it felt like an insane undertaking at times. Well, dat word turned out to be the definite article, 'the'.

    My (perhaps original, notion, though I doubt it) contribution to the whole Wake analysis:
    'the' is the most common word in English, but I doubt very few books, or writing for that matter end in the word, 'the'.

    The last book on my list was Finnegans Wake. I felt I'd leave The Wake until last because, well quite frankly mr shankly, it scared the living bejesus out of me.

    'A way a lone a last a loved a long the / riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Caslte and Environs.'

    Jimmie Joyce commands the top spot with Ulysses, or as Shaun calls Shem's book in the The Wake, 'Usylessly Unreadable Blue Book of Eccles'. (Chap 7 Wake) Hats off Jimmie, if you cannot take the Mickey out of yourself, then who can you extract the Micheal out of, hey?

    I fully concur, Ulysses at the top spot is as kosher as chicken soup. Thin Phil Lynott, 'It was a joy that Joyce brought to me.' (Roisin Dubh) I'll fill whiskey in my jar to that Philipoh.

    The Wake. I was drowning, clutching at straws, hay, the whole bale of Gareth, and then, as an alcoholic, I had a moment of clarity: 'the riverrun'. Don't fight it, you will drop like lead into the sea; go with the flow. IMHO, the only way to tackle The Wake is to let the whole darn thing just wash over you like the Liffey. Acclimation to the alliteration, and all, and anon.

    Why did I take the challenge? Because it's there Mr. Mallory. It's there Mr. Hillary.

    I was stuck in the 19th century, and that's where my love of literature lies. I saw the list and was appalled at how few of the titles that I had read.

    When did I start? I guess I started the list at an early age when I read 'Lord Of The Flies', but the full-on assault at the list began around 7 years ago. I must admit I didn't remain faithful to list throughout, and often had guilty flings with outsiders.

    From blogs and whatnot seen on the web, it seems the folly is to start at the end and work your way to the top. This is more insane than barking at the sun. These blogs seem to peter put after a fashion with the last entry in 1994 or something. The stumbling block of the linear approach is that you are already trapped in the 100 books, so for crying out loud, give yourself some freedom of choice as to when you read them.

    Also just look at this:

    #26 Wings Of The Dove
    #27 The Ambassadors

    In the neighborhood:

    #32 The Golden Bowl

    Tie me to the whipping post on Filmore East for this if you like, but I friggin' HATE Henry James!
    Well, I liked 'The Turn of the Screw' and 'Washington Square' to tell the truth. Those above mentioned books on the list nearly put me off reading for life! And to subject oneself to three Henry James novels in the space of 7 books is simply beyond the pale. To read Wings and Ambassadors back-to-back? Nooooooooooooooooooooo!

    James was by far the hardest reading of the list for me. This dude had the audacity to tell Edith Wharton how to write as well! Behave!

    Anyway, I am now free to read what the heck I like now! Vive la library liberté!

    The list is done!

    Like the protagonist of any good tale, the circle is complete. Odysseus is back home in Ithaca with Penelope and the great pooch, Argos. The end begins with the end of the first sentence running into the beginning of the first sentence (if that makes sense), and as in true Aspect of the Novel style, things are not tied up in a neat bow.

    And if you will excuse me, I think I'll head back to the 19th century for a while, the.

  2. #2
    Registered User EmptySeraph's Avatar
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    Mar 2016
    I have a hard time imagining that one would be drawn with all one's imaginary, or even only bits of, to this kind of prattle. The list--if there is one, if the formalization of such a thing would not undermine from within the very principles that its expected unity would stand for, with all its letters and with its one letter subduing the whole ensemble, dictating by power of apodictic resumption what should follow in the order of speeches, is a lacklustre one, and this too takes some leniency. To consign to someone else's elaborating a list of books that I ought to have read, first I must come to terms with the idea that I myself have worked towards seeing its finality in the form of some other, for otherwise it's an invariable nonsense which I shall not condone. And then there is this too: a specific, if partially inconspicuous, inadvertence regarding the abstract chronology of the facts. Seven years for this list? It's either insufficient or superfluous. The former would invite to a precious seriosity, for which seven years are but a mere trifle, while the later would vie for magnetizing all the frivolity of the literary world with its genealogy in the salons of the Ancient Regime, and thus would engender a rebarbative occasion for vexation, for a lamentable failure is looming menacingly. A crowned eulogy for mediocrity. And to boot all the emetic spectacle of vulgarity, the procession of cursory aphorisms... And I acknowledge with a good share of draconic resignation that RB was perchance rightful to assert that only literature should be taught, yet I feel that this is nothing of the kind.
    Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes.

  3. #3
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    Uncanny Valley
    Why apodoctic?

  4. #4
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    Why prattle indeed. I mean what the...

  5. #5
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Of this we can be certain: Empty's aphorisms will not be "cursory". I wonder, though, if "resignation" can be "draconic"? The two words seem incompatible. Also, why "a good share of" draconic resignation? Is this contrasted to "a bad share"?

    Why are "trifles" inevitably "mere"? Does "invite to" mean "suggest"?

  6. #6
    Registered User EmptySeraph's Avatar
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    I too used to be staggered by such incompatibilities. I put them on account of one's position as not quite ripe of age, as since my discovering in Lichtenberg's missive to Ljungberg jotted in a billow of ebriety by S. the aphorism number 124, they have dwindled into extinction. But the aporias won't just lose terrain like this before our labile incursions in affairs such as language. They are ambitious and will proliferate in order to keep up with our abnegation in regard to paradigmatic perspectives over signifiance (admirably fleshed out by Benveniste). Doubtless, one must be tempted by the lofty shades of scrutinizing others' positioning, of seeing if they are not, perchance, at one remove, obstinately posted, from solecism. The aplomb of this and that deliberation upon one's choice of vocables, as if their irreducible essence could reiterate itself ad nauseam, without ever posing the most insensible whim. It seems that when we are writing, we are unwittingly donning chains, and they are making our spirits as obtuse as Mr. Ecurb's here. We exculpate him of this highly metaphysical synaeresis, however, since his phraseology is so agoraphobic, and he must be imagining that we both are speaking the same language.
    Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes.

  7. #7
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I am hardly "staggered" by anything Empty writes. However, I am confused. Look at ES's first sentence:

    I too used to be staggered by such incompatibilities. I put them on account of one's position as not quite ripe of age.....
    What (I wonder) does "I put them on account" mean? Why the awkward phrasing? Why "...of one's position as not quite ripe of age"? Does Empty mean, "When I was young, such incompatibilities bothered me." If so,why doesn't he just write that, in plain, simple English? True: my paraphrase lacks the meandering, awkward pretentiousness that Empty seems to admire, but (perhaps) its simple elegance has some merit.

    Empty Seraph (I'll grant him the merit of his first name, if not his second) goes on to write:

    We exculpate him (Ecurb) of this highly metaphysical synaeresis, however, since his phraseology is so agoraphobic, and he must be imagining that we both are speaking the same language
    I assure Empty that I do not imagine we are "speaking" the same language, or even (which would make more sense) that we are writing the same language. I hope I would never write like Empty, but his writing hardly causes me to panic, either in my "phraseology" (does that mean "phrases") or in any other way.

  8. #8
    Registered User ralfyman's Avatar
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    Apr 2011
    Also, check out the Everyman series, Library of America, the Library of Latin America, etc.

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