Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Right, that's it.

Over a year now, and I've still only got three quarters of the way through Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and now I've become convinced it's not going anywhere and I'm bloody well giving up.

Fortunately, Stephen Fry's 'The Ode Less Travelled' is blimmin' brilliant, and now I finally understand what an iambic pentameter is. Also a,trochaic substitution which is just that little bit saucier.

25 comments:

patroclus said...

Hurrah, now you can read Decline and Fall. Resistance will probably be futile.

Maud said...

Decline and Fall is the man. I strongly suggest it.

I have a kind of obsession with iambic pentameter. I keep finding it in everything.

Examples:

"Oh, this is definitely all for you."
"And all that she can feel is you're not there."
"And we are here as on a darkling plain."
"I give you my hand; the fingers are cold."

Steve Dix said...

Can you get special poetic tape-measures marked out in trochees and iambic feet?

Nicole said...

Yay! I'm not the only one who couldn't read all of Johnathan Strange!

cello said...

Damn. I bought that Stephen Fry book for someone at Christmas and knew I should have kept it.

I love poetic metre talk. Bring on the dactylic hexameters ... and peel me a spondee someone.

morgalou said...

No! Don't give up! It took me well over a year to finish Jonathan Strange, and that's including the major stall at about the 2/3 of the way through mark. But don't lose heart. I absloutely flew through the last third in about a fortnight, and it was worth it.

Besides, you've already invested this much time..... I mean, like me, you may no longer give a monkey's bottom what actually happens, but there's a certain smugness to be had from finishing it out of sheer bloody-mindedness.

The Book Fiend said...

I've yet to actually meet anyone who's managed to finish that book. I'll admit, I've been put right off even bothering to try...

EalingTragedy said...

I'm only half way through! Don't tell me the ending! [claps hands over ears] La la la la la...

It's odd how it takes so long though. I mean, it's not superhuman to read a 250-page novel in a week, so how come 1000 pages is taking years, months of our lives like this? I do like it though.

entropy said...

Reminds me of the rules laid down by an old friend of mine. If you give up before halfway through a book, then the book has not held your attention, so the book has lost.

If you give up later than that, you have failed to stick at it, and so you have lost and the book has won.

I can't possibly comment on this, as I usually read books all out of order, skipping ahead and coming back and as soon as I put it down I cannot remember where I officially got to, so re-read several pages before I realise that I had read ALL of them before, get bored, hide it on bookcase or lend it to a friend while I start with another one.

It never ends well.

irony in motion said...

I absolutely love The Ode Less Travelled. I keep saying things like 'phyrric subsitution' and 'trochaic feet' just because I can now.

Paul Pennyfeather said...

Reading D&F will change your life.
It has great rhyming jokes.

patroclus said...

Excellent, a three-pronged attack. I have a spare copy, as well. There's no escape.

james henry said...

O-er, I feel properly ganged up on. Tomorrow I shall go and have a look at the back cover and see if I like the sound of it. And then I might, might buy a copy. Is there a nice silver-spined version I can stick next to my Borges and Capote? Because then if I don't finish that one either, at least my posh shelf will look a bit more impressive.

Paul Pennyfeather said...

Will send a copy if you fail to buy it tomorrow.
I have a few.
I usually read the Chapman and Hall edition (don't fret its not a first edition only a 5th imprint) because it has Mr Waugh's own amusing cartoons.

belladona said...

Oh, I'm glad there are other people who weren't wowed (is that even a word?) by 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell'. I plowed through it all and was disappointed by the ending. I'm not sure what I was expecting but certainly something a bit less flat. When I looked back over the plot I wasn't convinced it all hung together as well as it should have done. On the other hand I've finally gotten around to reading 'Little, big' which so far is just my kind of book. So thanks for the ref.

patroclus said...

>>Is there a nice silver-spined version I can stick next to my Borges and Capote?<<

Indeed there is. I recommend you get a nice new shiny silver one, because I've just checked my two copies and one's gone mouldy and the other one got wet. I can't compete with PP's collection - although the one that got wet does have cartoons by Quentin Blake. But it's not about the pictures, it's about the rhyming jokes to the tune of Oh God Our Help In Ages Past.

james henry said...

Bella - glad you're enjoying LB. I'm due my six-monthly reread I think, although I can open it at any point and start from there, it be that good.

PP - I shall look at the silver one, thank you for kind offer though. Patch - you've got my hopes up with crazy talk of pictures...

I just hope this isn't like the time I tried Flann O'Brian. Got ten pages into The Third Policeman, screamed and gave up. One day I'll have an actual holiday, take it with me and give it another go.

Who is this Dave? said...

I've got a silver-spined copy. It hasn't gone mouldy at all, despite being dropped in the bath, so obviously excellent quality.

Steve Dix said...

Dactylic hexameter?

Is that used for measuring the wingspan of flying dinosaurs?

occasional poster of comments said...

Definitely give The Third Policeman another go. It does seem quite ordinary during the first few pages, which is why it sat on a shelf of mine for about three years before I picked it up again. After the murder it turns wonderfully bizarre.

Abraham DeBunkem said...

I hear that Mr Fry also makes terribly good chutney! Splendid...

tentonipete said...

did you ever finish Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell? Would be interested to hear what you thought of it.

james henry said...

D'you know, I never did. I think I just found the whole thing a bit... humourless, perhaps?

tentonipete said...

I read the thing recently. Or at least finished reading it, I'd got half way through and then (probably like you) got a bit bored when it didn't seem to be going anywhere.

I didn't find it completely humourless, it was amusing in places especially the characters. The story picked up towards the end kept me interested.

It would make a good film if they can distil it down and leave out some of the pointless characters that don't affect the story.

It did feel like half the book was Tom Bombadil if you know what I mean.

It's definitely worth finishing though!

james henry said...

I'll put it in the pile of 'things I'll have another crack at when I'm in the right mood'. I had about three goes at Neal Stephenson before he suddenly clicked with me, I seem to recall.