February has been a quiet month for me, reading-wise. I’m well behind in my annual Bible read, which is a situation I must rectify during this Lenten season. I have, however, completed the four Shakespeare plays I mentioned back in January. Perhaps it’s having slogged through the Canterbury Tales last year, but I’m finding Shakespeare much easier to read these days. Still not easy, mind you, but easier. These are the other things I’ve been reading:
A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth: Is still on my reading list. Currently we’re tied up in court with debate over legislative changes which would disassemble the traditional system of land ownership in favour of the serfs who work the land (the word serf isn’t used, but you get the idea).
The Abolition of Man, by C. S. Lewis (1943): With echoes of Plato’s ‘Republic’ in its conception of human beings as having a nature comprised of Instinct and Intellect held together by Sentiment, Lewis begins this brief book (which started life as a series of lectures) with a critique of (then-) modern English school textbooks and ends by predicting the effective end of Humanity should Sentiment and objective moral value be abandoned in favour of unreflective relativism.
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad (1899): Conrad’s novella challenges the then-current idea that Europeans were inherently more ‘civilised’ than the indigenous peoples of their colonies. One night aboard a boat on the River Thames a man named Marlow tells his companions the story of a journey he made up the Congo River to meet the mysterious ivory trader Kutz. Becoming progressively more isolated from white society as his journey progresses, Marlow is ultimately confronted with the possibility that we are all the same: that deep within every human being there lies a darkness which can only ever be contained.
Potiki, by Patricia Grace (1987): One of my goals for 2017 is to read more New Zealand fiction, and I’m starting with an acknowledged classic, ‘Potiki’ by Patricia Grace. Deeply rooted in culture (Maori), time (the 1970s-1980s), and place (rural New Zealand) this is nonetheless a story which speaks universally. It’s the story of little people standing up for their rights and their lands in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.
What’s on your reading list at the moment?