Thursday, June 28, 2012

44. Reveries of a Solitary Walker

Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Around 110 pages

I feel like I always start my posts by apologizing for how long it has been since my last one and this post will be no exception.  This took forever to get to my house but only took me about an hour to read.  I have, however, been reading a lot of books from the 1700s (Mysteries of Udolpho, Cecelia, Confessions, etc.) so I will have posts more regularly.  I also started Ulysses.  If reading Joyce's prose isn't hell, I don't know what is.

As far as authors in the list goes, we have really been with Rousseau from the beginning.  He was pretty much a celebrity when Julie came out, had his book burned when Emile came out, and now is in exile.  I have already started to read his last book, Confessions, which is a very long autobiography.  This novel is so strikingly similar that I really see no reason to have both on the list.  Curse the list makers!

Anyway, this novel is about 100 pages of whining about society.  However, Rousseau happens to be a phenomenal writer so even his whining sounds beautiful.  It reminded me of the album John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band.  Incredibly whiny but you love the whiner so much that you suffer through it.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:


Mix of anecdotes and descriptions.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

43. Evelina

Fanny Burney
Around 450 pages

I just returned from a really fun girls trip to Denver.  Up until then, I had been reading Shakespearean plays and Mr. Vertigo, but on the flight there I was completely absorbed in Evelina, and did not stop until I finished.  I was so entranced with the writing, that I immediately got Cecelia, which is the next Fanny Burney on the list and am reading it right now.

At first, I was apprehensive about the novel because of the preface.  The writing style seemed very stiff, like every word was carefully thought about before it was written down.  However, as soon as the narrative starts, you are immediately immersed in the minds of the characters.  This book is written in epistolary form which gives incredible insight into the character of Evelina.  Evelina is a young country belle who comes to London to experience high society.  In the midst of hilariously embarrassing scenarios and amusing characters, she meets Lord Orville, who she has a schoolgirl crush on, and Sir Clement, who is a ridiculous and over the top admirer of Evelina.

So far in the list, the novels by women have not impressed me.  I felt like the list makers had put in certain novels merely because they were written by women even when they were really crappy.  However, this book actually had a remarkable writing style and insight into the high society of the time.  Actually, I felt like I had picked up another Jane Austen novel.  There were so many similarities in fact, that I felt bad for Fanny who never seems to get the acclaim Jane Austen does.  One of my favorites so far.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Early example of romanticism.

Heavy influence of Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth.

Acclaimed by Samuel Johnson.

First published anonymously but it was revealed in a poem that Fanny Burney was the author.