Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Impenetrability! That's what I say!

Remember that poll I told you about, the one of bloggers' favourite English language novelists that Norman Geras was conducting over at normblog? Well, the results are now in and they make interesting reading.

Of my picks, my #1 (Jane Austen) came out on top. As she damned well should. Any of my readers who have never read a Jane Austen novel, go and do it now. It won't take long, and whatever preconceptions you may have about them being chick lit, and old chick lit at that, put them aside; because this chick rocks. All her books are good, though my favourites are Emma, Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility in that order. They're not only well plotted and well written, they're full of characters just as three-dimensional as any of Dickens's; and just about all of them have laugh-out-loud funny moments (mostly they have plenty). The social scene may have dated; the situations and the reality of the emotions have not.

P G Wodehouse, Charles Dickens and Iain Banks made it too (the last in the guise of Iain M Banks, so maybe he has more fans for his SF than for his literary novels). Mark Twain, too.

I'm surprised neither Peter Carey nor Vikram Seth made it into double figures of votes, especially when Martin Amis and J M Coetzee did. And my gob is smacked that Lewis Carroll didn't. OK, he only wrote two significant novels, but one could say that of Tolkien (or James Joyce, pretty much). Considering the impact that those two novels have had on the English language, not just as a source of references whose influence is felt from Jefferson Airplane to The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, but as a source of wholly original words (chortle; burble; galumphing) it simply did not occur to me that Carroll wouldn't get a decent score, at least as much as Wodehouse.

O tempora! O mores! Though Carroll's White Knight realised that there would always be those who just didn't get it:

"It's long," said the Knight, "but it's very, very beautiful. Everybody that hears me sing it -- either it brings the tears into their eyes, or else --"

"Or else what?" said Alice, for the Knight had made a sudden pause.

"Or else it doesn't, you know."


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