Strange. That pile of books ever supplemented by cheap offerings from charity shops. For instance The Cambridge Guide to Greek Literature. Must cost at least £20 and I got it for 50p. I know very little Greek but at least have a Greek dictionary. I know that to grapple with Neitzsche and Heidigger a background in Greek drama is necessary. I have picked up some slight knowledge of Greek myths from poetry (Irish and German) and Greek Drama from Woody Allen. However, it may be some time before I get to grips with the 50p prize.
Then in my bag I have Eva Ibbetson. I have one in secondhand book form and another on Kindle. I was recommended this author as a lighter read at the end of the current crisis. I then remembered that she was given some prominence at bookshop at Jewish Book Festival. I started reading one about the Pool of Dragonflies” which started in a Harry Potterish vein and seemed to be a bit about Dartington- or rather a fictionalised version thereof. It looks good but not sufficiently so to detract me away from my current Julian Barnes.
So my Don Juan approach to reading is even more random with poetry. That reminds me that I must read more Byron, a frequent feeling which extends to Auden and MacNeice’s Journal from Iceland written in a Byronic style. The following volumes are cluttering my long coffee table;- Lowell, Delmore Schwarz, John Berryman, Padrigh Fallon and Ciaron Carson. Reading poetry at depth is an intensive business and I don’t think it can be hurried. So it is good to read some Betjeman, Kipling and Gavin Ewart. The latter I heard in the Penwith Gallery during the St Ives Festival some 30 years ago.
Like the road not taken by Johnson in Scotland there is pleasure in the anticipation. Reading reviews can to a degree keep you abreast of the zeitgeist. However, it is often biographies that I most miss when I put them down. Salisbury, Melbourne and John Freeman’s are three that spring immediately to mind.