Friday, November 8, 2013

"The Crock of Gold" and "War and Peace"

      Delycia and I often feel like were traveling through mystifying wilderness areas as we read two of the books for our “classics book discussion group”.
     For our November meeting, we are reading a largely forgotten novel, “The Crock of Gold”, by the Irish poet James Stephens, written in 1912 and rarely read today, I gather. However, our discussion leader, a retired English professor at the University of Connecticut, assures us there is great wisdom and rare beauty in the book, so Delycia and I are valiantly hiking through the chapters, searching for signs of the magnificence the professor sees. For the first third of the book, we felt fairly lost and bewildered in a wilderness of words, but suddenly, just this morning, we felt like the forest of the book opened up somewhat and we were actually able to see some views of wonderful wisdom and splendor. Perhaps the hiking will be a bit easier and more inspiring from here on.
     For our March meeting, we are getting a head start on Tolstoy’s 1300 page mountain called “War and Peace”. The tricky part of the expedition through the book will be just keeping track of all the characters. Like wilderness travelers with detailed maps, we are taking notes as we read, and also – quite unashamedly – making good use of Sparknotes. For a journey through a book like this, Sparknotes (or Cliff’s Notes or Shmoop or Bookrags, etc.) can be like having an well-informed friend alongside to show us the highlights along the trail.
     So each day we shoulder our packs of pencils and stickies and strong minds and head out into the backcountry, the wilds, the bushland, the great outdoors of great books. How lucky can two old-timers get??     


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