“less time lost in idle company”

There’s an up-side to a 90 muinute bus commute, and that’s that I’m finally getting around to doing all the reading I planned to do in my eight-week convalescence. (For the record, the time was mostly divided between kakuro, killer sudoku and walking around at a fraction of my normal pace).

Question: is there a catch-all term for the historical era after the renaissance and before Victoria? Anyway, whatever it is, I’m firmly there at the moment: not content with many hours upon the classic Colonization (hence fighting the Dutch and establishing missions amongst the Tupi), I’ve also been doing some Tottenham back-story (via the quakers of 16th/17th century London) and most recently reading The Illustrated Pepys, which has been genuinely fascinating, to the point of taking up a diary myself. No dalliances subtly translated into French here, nor much taking the coach to Chatham, but you understand what I mean. It’s a good form of self-discipline, in a way.

I heartily recommend reading Pepys, by the way: far more than an autobiography even, one can get a sense of what the man is really like, from momentous decisions, and political upheavals to the minutiae of daily life in the 1660’s. A jolly chap all told. Anyway, having completed this very real, undeniably historic document I’ve moved onto completing Thomas Pynchon’s vast Mason & Dixon – also in this era (well, 100 years out or so), also in a London teeming with sailors and scientists, belligerent landladies and assorted ne’er-do-wells. It moves out of course, as a novel about Mason and Dixon would have to – so far we’ve had Cape Town and St Helena and the whiff of America. As it’s Pynchon, it also moves far beyond Pepys literarily-speaking as well: it’s straddling a fine line between masterful atmospheric and complete unreadable, and it’s probably going to take until the end to work out which.

So there you go: I’m stopping short of donning a perriwig and silk coat, but it’s clearly not far off.


One Response

  1. […] for a catch up on the reading front, I think. It’s been a while, and I’m no longer sitting through those long old bus journeys to work. This hasn’t […]

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