I recently visited my parents house and left my e-reader there. I’ll pick it up again when I go back this weekend. But that means that I am left without my usual reading stockpile. Thus, I decided that I’d spend this week reading something that I can only find in paper form. Ever since I got interested in German lit (err, like a month ago), I’ve been thinking about reading Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities. It’s a super long and very weird modernist novel that people say is the best German language novel. I’ve read the first few pages online and they seemed amazing. Very playful. I got the library’s copy and I am holding it in my hands. Probably this will end up being one of those reading projects (like Doctor Faustus) that I abandon after a few days, but there is something very exciting about this. Because I am not German, I don’t really know what the book is about. I know its reputation, but nothing about why it’s achieved that reputation. I know that the style intrigues me, however. I haven’t been this excited about a reading project in a long time.
I think there are two reading experiences that I’ve spent the past two years trying to replicate. The first was when I read Anna Karenina. It was the first time since childhood when I’d been so purely absorbed in a book. I never wanted it to end. The novel contained worlds. I even liked all the stuff about farming and the provincial senate.
And the second is the year that I read In Search Of Lost Time. That was one of the few times when I allowed a work to be difficult. The volumes did bore me at times. And they did require effort to read. But they were tremendously rewarding. I’ve still never been so firmly in the grip of a powerful mind. There was something so enormous about the workings of that novel. You almost can’t believe that you really did spend three hundred pages reading about a dinner party or that you really did read a fifty page meditation on a country walk. But it completely reinvigorated my views on the possibilities of the novel.
Anyway, we’ll see…