Reading for Summer 2009

An ambitious plan
Dante Alighieri Statue Erected in 1922. Sculptor: Ettore Ximenes. Photograph by southbound_07 at Flickr.com

One of the major appeals of my job is the free time it affords me. I work at a university library during the academic year, but as term-time staff I'm cut loose for the summer months. This enables me to happily pursue my interests and obsessions at an easy pace, and measure my days by sunshine rather than stopwatch. I have a relatively slim income, but it affords time to sit still and relax for three months of every year.

My summer hiatus begins in one week, and I'm steadily compiling a reading list to see me through the months to follow. I can already see myself wandering free through cafes, parks and pubs with good company and a good book. I can't wait.

Tentative Reading list:
  • Samuel Beckett: The old chestnut. Hope to revisit the shorter fiction, the Letters, and whatever takes my fancy. I might take another look at James Knowlson's excellent biography, Damned to Fame, while I'm at it.
  • Thomas Bernhard: Whatever novels I can get my hands on. I was greatly impressed by Old Masters: A Comedy, and am already pushing my way through Correction. Every synopsis of every novel he's written appeals to me for one reason or another. Marvelous stuff.
  • Walter Benjamin: To inform myself. For someone with an interest in literary theory and criticism, I don't feel I know enough about Benjamin.
  • Simon Critchley: Another look at Very Little... Almost Nothing. It's so rare to see so many of my major interests collected together in one place, let alone one book. Critchley's philosophical reflections on death and literature, including key studies of Blanchot and Beckett, are both fascinating and compelling.
  • Arthur Schopenhauer: A philosopher who, while often flawed, is wonderfully entertaining to read.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche: A grand and novelistic visionary. Just for fun, this one.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: At last! The only real question is where to start: the poetry, drama, verse, conversation, autobiography. I'm looking forward to finding out what the German wordsmith has to offer - all in English translation, though, alas.
  • Dante Alighieri: The Divine Comedy, at least in part for its influence on Beckett.
  • Maurice Blanchot: Some of his reviews and criticism.
Ambitious, I know. I'm sure I won't get through everything, but I'll take each day as it comes and play it by ear. The list is nowhere near as rigid in my mind as it appears on the page: it's just an enjoyable way to pass the hours. I think it'll be fun to just sit back, flick the pages, and see what I can find.