Thursday, July 27, 2006

In Search of a Few Good Books

In conjunction with reading In Search of Lost Time I am also reading books about Proust or other people's experiences with Proust. I recently read Edmund White's little Penguin Lives biography of Proust. I've posted a few interesting tidbits over at Involuntary Memory like Proust's literary influences. But I also wanted to mention the book here. If you have read Proust or are just interested in him as a person, White's book is a great place to start. It is short and covers the highlights and is very accessible even for a person who has not read Proust. Plus, in the back , White has a few pages of annotated bibliography to point readers in the direction of books that offer further depth; like the end-all be-all biography by Tadie which is almost 1,000 pages long. I'll be getting my hands on that one eventually. The only problem I had with White is that he put a lot of emphasis on Proust's homosexuality. He even admits a few times that this or that expert would not agree with his emphasis but I am not satisfied that White proved it was as important as all his talk about it seems to imply. Nonetheless, White is a good writer and I am interested in reading other books by him. Has anyone read White before and can make a recommendation? On a related note, I've noticed that I have been reading quite a few modernist writers lately--Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Bryher--and I find them all engaging. I know after much discussion over at Of Books and Bicycles that some people like to classify literary periods and others don't. I don't like rigid classifications, but I think a descriptive classing of periods can be useful in studying dominant ideas. Which leads me to my next question. Do any of you brilliant minds out there have any suggestions on some good books to read about modernism as it plays out in literature?