Book recommendations

Sorry for the lack of posts; I’ve actually been busy with work (a good thing), traveling first to Dallas and now to Richmond (VA).

Two books that I’m currently working my way through are Milton’s Paradise Lost and T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I’ve never read either before and am very taken with both. Milton’s work, of course, is like a mountain that dominates the landscape of Western literature, but I don’t think you can realize how much it does so until you’ve read it. I’ve got the Fowler annotated edition, which is tremendously helpful. I’m just sorry it’s taken me this long to get around to it; my inspiration for finally doing so was picking up and reading C. S. Lewis’ A Preface to Paradise Lost, itself an outstanding work (and a reminder that Lewis was a professor of literature at Oxford when that really meant something).

Lawrence’s work is a revelation. Laying aside the disputes over how accurate his portrayal of events is, I am (as a writer) simply stunned at his writing. I’ll read a paragraph and think, “That’s such a wonderfully written paragraph; maybe I’ll quote that on one of my blogs.” Then I’ll read the next paragraph and think the same thing. And so on. Here’s a paragraph chosen at random:

His distance might have been six thousand yards; but the fuses of his shrapnel were Boer War antiquities, full of green mould, and, if they burst, it was sometimes short in the air, and sometimes grazing. However, he had no means of getting his ammunition away if things went wrong, so he blazed off at speed, shouting with laughter at this fashion of making war; and the tribesmen seeing the commandant so merry took heart of grace themselves. ‘By God,’ said one, ‘those are the real guns: the Importance of their noise!’ Rasim swore that the Turks were dying in heaps, and the Arabs charged forward warmly at his word.

I would bleed myself to write that well, and Lawrence goes on that way for hundreds of pages.  ..bruce..

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