What have I been doing all this time? I've been working on building projects at Emmanuel Church and reading Sir Walter Scott.
Every one asks why Scott? The answer is simply that other authors refer to him so frequently that it seemed like a sensible idea to familiarize myself with his writings. This intention received a solid push when I discovered a copy of "Guy Mannering" at a recent Boston Public Library book sale. While I was paying my dollar for it the librarian said wistfully,"Ah yes, Scott, ahhh, Guy Mannering, so dear, my favorite!
It turns out that picking favorites is very difficult. I struggled with the dialect in Guy Mannering, became completely hooked, and promptly decided that if one was going to struggle with the dialect and the vocabulary one had best get on with reading them all at once; which I have, pretty much. I'm reading all of the Waverly novels, in order as well as I can manage that, and am now up to "Woodstock," number 22 of 26.
The remark was made the other day that I must be some kind of masochist to attempt such a thing, but the truth is that they are all amazingly compelling, enormously interesting, and great fun to read. Taken as a whole they are an astounding accomplishment, and each is fresh and new and unique. I can't put them down which is something to say when reading the twenty second novel by the same author in the space of five months. There is no repeat of plot, or characters. There lurk surprises at every turn, and one can see very clearly the source of much in Dickens, Thackeray, Elliot, and Trollope. One also finds bizarre and convoluted premises for the tales- one person relating it to another who writes a memoir that gets read by a neighboring antiquary who tells us this story.... and heros who are ambivalent and blown by fate one way or another, bad guys who turn out to be essentially good and good guys who are motivated by evil, it's almost post modern.
I'll try to be better about sharing all this, but to be honest, until I'm finished, I just can't put them down!