A Chap Must Read

Ernst Junger’s Storm of Steel is a good book about the experience of an officer in WWI. We have heard of the horrors of it, but his descriptions are oddly evocative. Oddly because he seems so artless, so little given to suggestion. And yet he makes you understand him, or think you understand him. Part of it is the mix of the routine things of life and its comforts when they can be had with the horrors. A lot of it is that the guy was there and wrote it down. Highly recommended.

I’m still doing the Kierkergaard biography, just like I’m doing Sigrid Undset (in the old translation, which I find so deft). I’m reserving Scruton’s Gifford lectures for when I have a great blank space to do it in, and I am pecking at Wiman’s Bright Abyss. What interests me about that last is that he seems to be expressing belief in modern terms: it seems genuine. One has to puzzle at it (for whatever reason) and one has to persevere at it (because the present sensibility can be so unattractive, so effete as well–though he’s less so and that’s why he’s compelling to me), but I think it is as worthwhile a book as all the rest, and will help me understand his poetry better. Plus, I have an unread Lukacs waiting for its moment.

I’m putting off a going through the whole of Harry Potter. I don’t know how long I can do it, because I’m eager. It’s a whole world, and now that I know the ending there is so much more to be noticed loosing one’s self in it this time through.

I’m rather more diffusely spread than ever, having been back among books long enough to forage and to roam. I have probably a dozen other books with markers in them (Boswell, Bowen, Edda, Anglo Saxon stuff, Edmund Wilson and what have you). I don’t mind moving, but nevermore if I can help it will I be so quick to be out of the reach of plentiful reading.

I’m getting to the end of Donal Grant and have lined up a biography of Coventry Patmore and the Alan Jacobs on Lewis after that. That’s what I read on Sundays and I’m afraid it has put the more difficult matters of Charles Williams on hold (He Came Down from Heaven and The Forgiveness of Sins). But not for long.


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