Saturday, July 9, 2016

Reading John Fowles

Published in 1969, I first read The French Lieutenant's Woman while still in college, at Holy Cross, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

I have not read it since.

But now in retirement I had come to vaguely recall Fowles' meditations on the English Victorian Age, with its adagio time signature (Fowles' own description), its Christian prudery, its London full of whores, its Darwinism, its desperate lower classes, and its idle rich.

Meditations made especially timely - especially those about leisure, laziness, and his hero "adrift in the slow entire of Victorian time" - by the real or aspirational leisure of the principal characters of Tom Jones and Moll Flanders, both of which I had recently read.

And my own newfound leisure.

So I thought I would read it again.

And I must say his prose is a perfect fit for this book.

Wonderful.

I have had leisure that felt like this only twice before in my life.

In the long summer days of childhood, perhaps at 5 or 7, at my grandparents' house.

And in the year I spent golfing and reading between the army and grad school.

I read The World as Will and Representation that year.

And War and Peace.

And Anna Karenina.

And more.

I read Being and Time the winter vacation of my first year in graduate school.

You can do a lot of reading of some very long books when time slows down.

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