Well, we've gotten underway and into the thousands now, and yet I'm not really thinking about the end. We've had a lot of fun and a lot of reflection. I've spoken about things like why I don't like GoodReads, the good and bad of bookclubs, reading widely, instead of just one genre, reading academically and about the problematic situations involving the bookstagram culture of Instagram. Needless to say, we've covered a range of topics—but today I want to talk briefly about the books I read for my undergraduate dissertation and why I did so.
The first book I knew I wanted to study for my undergraduate dissertation was The Aeneid by Virgil. The idea of a quest, meaning, discovery and genealogy were aptly intriguing to me and I loved the image of thunder and the storm we get at the beginning that is repeated when Aeneas himself embodies the storm near the end of the story. You should really read my series on The Aeneid if you're more interested in my love for it. You can find them here:
The next book I read, naturally if you're reading The Aeneid with the intent to study it—was Dante's Divine Comedy. Dante's Divine Comedy, especially the part on "Heaven" fascinated me, and ended up working its themes into my dissertation my lord, how I love that book. I talked about it briefly in one of the previous parts, and I hope you enjoyed listening to me ramble on about it if you know me in real life.
The third book I read was Petrarch's Canzoniere because it's quite possibly one of the greatest sets of poems to come out of the Italian Renaissance. I don't know why I wanted to include it at first, but the fact that I did want to was clear. I wanted to work some of the language, some of the themes and some of the underlying concepts behind love in the poems into my piece. The language of that poetry is seriously beautiful.
The fourth book I read was Boccaccio's Decameron. Needless to say this took me a long time the first time I tried to tackle it. Not because it was long, but because of the fact it had so much plague and death in there. Really, it can get very apocalyptic and dark at the beginning. Not that I don't like that stuff, I really do, but reading about it when the person was actually there to witness the apocalyptic and dark situation is different to just reading fiction worked off no experience whatsoever.
The fifth book I read was Vita Nuova, also by Dante. This book you can only tell is dedicated to Beatrice. There is love and all these ancient themes in there, like a lone traveler who is lost searching for love and kindness in a world against him. I found Vita Nuova to be better read in Latin than in English, because the language is expressively more raw and beautiful.
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of the books I read for my undergraduate dissertation and now, let us get underway. Remember, I never recommend a book I haven't read for myself and my own personal favourites will be marked out with a (*). I will talk about one or two intermittently if you haven't had enough of me already! Here's numbers 991 to 1020!
991. A Small Town in Germany by John Le Carre
992. Berlin Finale by Heinz Rein
993. Tristessa by Jack Kerouac
994. The Castle by Franz Kafka
995. A Little Learning by Evelyn Waugh
996. The Mortgaged Heart by Carson McCullers
997. Salammbo by Gustav Flaubert
998. The Eye by Vladimir Nabokov
999. Poems and Exiles by James Joyce*
1000. 'Studies in Classical American Literature' by DH Lawrence*
There is nothing quite like reading an essay by DH Lawrence. His studies into American Literature have been some of the most expansive I have ever seen and yet, he is still the better writer by a good standard. I read this book quite recently actually, and have a bit of a tattered copy (so I think I'll get myself a new one soon!) But needless to say, this book has been good to me in my ventures into the American side of Literature—there's so many concepts you could've never have thought of on your own without the help of DH Lawrence.
1001. Labels by Evelyn Waugh
1002. Modern Times by Jean-Paul Sartre
1003. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
1004. When the Going Was Good by Evelyn Waugh*
1005. Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin*
1006. Selected Plays by WB Yeats
1007. Just Above My Head by James Baldwin
1008. Selected Poems by WB Yeats*
1009. Delta of Venus by Anais Nin
1010. Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin
1011. The Golden Bough by James Frazer
1012. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
1013. Huis Clos and Other Plays by Jean-Paul Sartre
1014. The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh*
1015. Chance by Joseph Conrad
1016. Quartet by Jean Rhys
1017. The Luzhin Defence by Vladimir Nabokov
1018. Words by Jean-Paul Sartre
1019. Journey's End by R.C Sheriff
1020. Voyagein the Dark by Jean Rhys