Bout of Books Wrap-Up & Eugene Onegin Books 1 & 2

Sunday was not a real strong finish reading-wise.   I did finish two books during the Bout and that’s what I had hoped to do, though I hope this doesn’t indicate a year of copping out of longer, harder books and reading quick reads just to meet the goals.   That would be wrong, wouldn’t it?

This was also supposed to be the day I finished Ulysses!  Ha!  I knew that wouldn’t happen, but I had hoped to get further.   It all started so well, but really I’m rather bored by this Cyclops section.  They’re in a pub nattering and there are bits of mild amusement in the sections that are written like old Irish epic parodies, but not as much as I think Joyce thought there was.   At least not to me.    The whole thing seems to have stagnated.    

I actually started Bleak House on the 12th and unlike the first time (I must really not have been in the mood) got a good few chapters in and was entertained by Lady Dedlock, Esther and the Jellybys and even the Court of Chancery.  Also greatly relieved to find my copy is 788 pages and not as one in Amazon was listed 990!   I realize the books are the same length really, all the words the same and the one probably has larger type and smaller pages and maybe forewords and afterwords, but still that’s 200 pages.   Which just shows what a silly unit of measure a page really is.   But I’m liking it and hope to continue liking it.


Eugene Onegin is also going along tickety-boo.   It’s the rhythm combined with the lightness and humor of Pushkin’s writing which I really had not expected.   I’ve read some Russian lit and it’s great, but it’s not light and amusing.   At least, not the ones I’ve read.   Onegin is already world weary by the end of book one.   Books bore him, women bore him, everything is weary, stale flat and unprofitable.   In book two, we meet Lensky who:

At first their differences of heart

Made meetings dull at one another’s

But then their friendship grew, and soon

They’d meet on horse each afternoon,

And in the end were close as brothers.

Thus people — so it seems to me —

Become good friends from sheer ennui.

I have the Falen translation and, as you can see, he kept the unusual rhyme scheme which I believe I read somewhere Nabokov said couldn’t be done!   Thank goodness he was wrong about that, because I think rhyming gives a whole different feeling than non-rhyming although perhaps as long as you keep the humor it doesn’t matter that much.  I suppose to be sure I would need to read a non-rhyming translation, but let me get through the whole book first.   I have too recently started off well in a book only to bog down in the middle, so I hope it keeps up like this.

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