Friday, August 19, 2005

A Confession or Et in Arcadia ego

The recent, grand Henry James Project floundered today in such a through fashion that I retreated in disorganized haste to the British Collection at the Rikhardinkatu Library and got myself a copy of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. What's a boy to do, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker (reading currently her magnificent, desperately funny reviews from the 20's and 30's): I just needed a very strong antidote to get over that endlessly significant street crossing in the previous chapter. Maybe this is a superficial thought but I would gladly exchange all the qualifications, meanderings and subtleties of James for five lines of hard, polished Stoppard dialogue: sparse, efficient, brilliantly economical, brilliantly funny. And not superficial at all. I will probably collect the remnants of once proud forces and hurl them again at the impregnable Henry James defence but not with much hope. Hmm, anyway, it's certainly a great play - also in Arcadia, I, Death...

2 comments:

helsinkian said...

How far did you get with Henry James?

stockholm slender said...

No, I have not quitted yet - I just am still recovering from the exhaustion of that one scene. I fully understand that it is great literature: it overwhelms you. Am also reading Mrs Dalloway in this fashion (e.g. keeping it on the bookshelf, the army of unalterable law, not Waldo but Virginia Woolf, Henry James and Leo Tolstoi - Russian classics apart from Dostoyevski being also big challenges...)