Odyssey Online

Friday Blogging, Sometimes It Doesn’t Work…

July 12, 2013 · No Comments

Creation is uncertainty itself.  “Is this going to work?” maybe the great human question–and the history of literature is filled with poignant tales of authors doubting themselves and their work, years into a particular project.  Alex Belth has lovely short piece on “I also appreciate people who push themselves and risk failure,” in which he uses Faulkner’s doubt about The Sound the the Fury as his example.   A book that many would argue is the quintessential Faulkner novel.  Readers also have their moments of doubt–GoodReads has a fun graphic on why people put books down, and which books people have quit the most.  Amongst contemporary books Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the top “didn’t finish” books, and the five most abandoned classics are Catch-22, Lord of the Rings, Ulysses, Moby Dick, and Atlas Shrugged. I have a didn’t quite make it through a re-read of Ulysses story (I couldn’t finish the second book of the Game of Thrones titles either).  A very eloquent new book on “reading in electronic times” is Book Was There by Andrew Piper.  Very thoughtful stuff, and a particularly engaging part of the book is Chapter 4, “Of Note,” where Piper ponders the relation of notes and notebooks to finished manuscripts, and the relationship between handwriting and reading: “When we write with our hands we are also learning to draw, just as when we learn to draw we are learning to think more complexly with words.”  The poet Ted Hughes also observed that “Handwriting is drawing.”  We have a number of titles on handwriting has a study, notably, Handwriting in America: A Cultural History by Tamara Plakins Thorton, and The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting by Philip Hensher.

Oh, I’ve finished Andrew Piper’s book and will be returning it soon…


Categories: Books · Essay on Bibliography

St. Lawrence University