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Adventures among books [Anglais] [Relié]

A Lang


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4.0 étoiles sur 5 A book for people who care about reading 24 août 2014
Par Reliquiae - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
In this Kindle version there are a few spacing issues between paragraphs, but otherwise there are few other mistakes in format. The annoying issue is that the Table of Contents is not active. However the Footnotes are. At the end of this review I've included the missing Location numbers for the chapter divisions for anyone who is interested.

The book is a well-known collection of papers written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries about literature. Andrew Lang is best remembered as a poet, novelist, critic, and a contributor to anthropology. But he is probably most admired for his collections of fairy tales. Lang believed that booklovers should read what they enjoy and care about, and reading his Adventures Among Books opens up new directions for readers to follow.

Even after more than a century has passed, lovers of good literature will still find much to glean from these essays. The first chapter, from which the title of the book is taken, is one of the most valuable. It's the most autobiographical, offering insight into Lang's life and literary tastes. He recalls for us his most vivid memories of the stories he read or heard. Lang especially treasured tales from his childhood, which he said "clung to my memory." He accounts for his profound love for books as a "gift given to me by the fairies." Indeed he was a fan of fairytales, believing that "a boy of five is more at home in Fairyland than in his own country." This perhaps accounts for his publication of 12 books of fairytales. Lang moves on from his childhood to describe his personal encounters with the classics and his bond with the world's great authors that he so admired.

Most other chapters are interesting and valuable as well, although I confess that a few are dated and too esoteric to hold my concentration. His essay about his friend, Robert Louis Stevenson, was insightful, although there is better literary analysis to be found elsewhere. The same may be said about chapters concerning "Oliver Wendell Holmes" or "Mr. Morris's Poems" or "Mrs. Radcliffe's Novels." A few discussions, although probably compelling in their day, have less value now, unless one is a Lang scholar or still reads some of the works he cites. On the other hand, I am probably just revealing my own shallow interests and literary ignorance.

I particularly enjoyed his chapter devoted to St. Augustine's Confessions. It is a fine essay to introduce and illuminate this classic work - at least until the closing paragraphs. When Augustine finally submits to Christ, Lang admits that that was the point for him that "the Saint becomes less interesting." While he regards Augustine's Confessions as "the most human of books," he is far less interested in it when it "strays into theology" following the saint's conversion. Earlier, Lang admitted to not having absorbed much of his Scottish Presbyterian upbringing. "I got no harm from "The Shorter Catechism," he writes in the first essay, "of which I remember little, and neither then nor now was or am able to understand a single sentence." Maybe if he really had learned his catechism he would have appreciated Augustine's theology more.

Lang pays tribute to many other great writers throughout the book, among them the American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was America's "classic author," says Lang. "His renown is unimpeached: his greatness is probably permanent, because he is at once such an original and personal genius, and such a judicious and determined artist."

A final example of Lang's essays is his "Stories and Story-telling." Where do good stories come from? In the end, Lang is not entirely sure. "Fiction is a beautiful disease of the brain... Something, an incident or an experience, or a reflection, gets imbedded, incrusted, in the properly constituted mind, and becomes the nucleus of a pearl of romance." The essay is fascinating for its exploration of how one possessed of the "disease" might begin to write good stories. "What is the mysterious art by which these things are done? What makes the well-told story seem real, rich with life, actual, engrossing? It is the secret of genius, of the novelist's art, and the writer who cannot practise the art might as well try to discover the Philosopher's Stone, or to 'harp fish out of the water.'" Too bad for the rest of us.

Each of the essays in this volume is instructive and worth the time it takes to read and unpack them. Andrew Lang's Adventures Among Books could easily form a guide or syllabus for a literature course, except for the author's own warning: "Distrust a course of reading! People who really care for books read all of them. There is no other course." Good advice for booklovers of any age.

TOC
Preface: Loc. 7
Chapter I: Adventures Among Books, Loc. 7
Chapter II: Recollections of Robert Louis Stevenson, Loc. 405
Chapter III: Rab's Friend, Loc. 574
Chapter IV: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Loc. 797
Chapter V: Mr. Morris's Poems, Loc. 968
Chapter VI: Mrs. Radcliffe's Novels, Loc. 1198
Chapter VII: A Scottish Romanticist of 1830, Loc. 1391
Chapter VIII: The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Loc. 1558
Chapter IX: Smollett, Loc. 1710
Chapter X: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Loc. 2104
Chapter XI: The Paradise of Poets, Loc. 2217
Chapter XII: Paris and Helen, Loc. 2303
Chapter XIII: Enchanted Cigarettes, Loc. 2433
Chapter VIV: Stories and Story-Telling, Loc. 2508
Chapter XV: The Supernatural in Fiction, Loc. 2617
Chapter XVI: An Old Scottish Psychical Researcher, Loc. 2694
Chapter XVII: The Boy, Loc. 2809
Footnotes: Loc. 2980
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