Wednesday, 3 February 2010

desert island books

it's a great shame that the best known homer of our generation will be the jolly yellow fat bloke. which is as well and good but when i was wee and growing up on an island that had just had the luxury of two, count 'em, two television channels (not that i was allowed to watch much of them) my head was absorbed, and stayed that way, with the older version.

what a joy then to get not one but two articles in the guardian on the iliad and the promise of longer to come. if anything it showed just how atrophied my homer knowledge has become, thus setting me a very pleasurable reading task for later in the year (along with finishing reading all of william maxwell which i've eked out as long as possible)

so, desert island books. the works of homer (fagles translation) would be one i;d have without blinking. as would moby dick, of which more later. the rest i might have to think about (tho i feel ayn rand's the fountainhead would have to be in there as a guilty pleasure)

and yours?

21 comments:

Sorlil said...

I was never that fussed over the Iliad and only skim read the Odyssey far preferring the tragedies, mostly Sophocles' works. but they wouldn't be my desert island books either.

excluding poetry and the bible I would take the complete works of Primo Levi and Dostoyevski's The Idiot and Crime and Punishment.

Dominic Rivron said...

If it's like the Discs version I take it we have to take 8? Sherlock Holmes Complete, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, Swallowdale (Arthur Ransome), Moby Dick, Briggflatts, Dune, Mountaineering in Scotland and Undiscovered Scotland (WH Murray, one volume).

I'm amazed that only took me a minute or two.

strangepress said...

Tolstoy - War and Peace
Hardy - Tess of the D'Ubervilles
Salinger - his collected works... if there is such a thing... as long as it has 'to esme with love and squalor' in there somewhere
Huxley - Brave New World
A big fat collection of Calvin and Hobbes comics

Andrew Shields said...

Fagles's "Aeneid" is brilliant, too.

I've got the complete Shakespeare on my iPhone now, so perhaps that's a sign of what I would want to take. :-)

Andrew Shields said...

Dominic, I would love to take some Ransome, but I think my favorite is "Great Northern?"

sarah said...

It's a cliched response, but I'd take a survival guide with me. If you force me to take something else, it'd probably be Women Who Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Rachel Fox said...

I've tried to do this task before and failed. In the end all I could come up with for DI Books was a really big dictionary...maybe even a couple of dictionaries.
x

strangepress said...

.... and a survival guide! lol

Dominic Rivron said...

Sorry to get into a side-discussion here (with Andrew Shields)... Great Northern is a good one, too (but I think my second choice would probably be We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea).

Titus said...

With you on the Fagles translations. Best I'd ever read.
And Moby Dick too, of course.
Bible's in there for me (King James). And everything by Chaucer, Hardy, Shakespeare and Conrad. And Paradise Lost, of course. Oh, Don Quixote too. Sod it, just give me the library.
My guilty pleasure is "We Need To Talk About Kevin".

Can I take Ray Mears too?

Niamh B said...

Intimate History of Humanity. Proust was a Neuroscientist.

swiss said...

good shout on eight dominic but i believe the deal is you get all the shakespeare and the king james as well.

so you already have your shakespeare andrew tho i have to say i'm somewhat shocked you have it on your iphone!!!!

i have never read this ransome fellow...

the notion of salinger sounds to me like an exquisite punishment mmp tho t is right ther with you on the calvin and hobbes front

a survival guide seems a good idea and i'm sure we could all agree on nice guy ray mears' version rather than other versions like bear grylls or whatever his name is.

i don't think i could do moby dick and don quixote. and definitely not conrad. paradise lost tho, there's a thought.

i think i have that zeldin book somewhere. i don't know thr poust book but i have the feeling a book about other books might be frustrating on a desert island.

so, if it is to be DI rules i shall away and have a think...

swiss said...

oops, missed out dostoevsky. but i would as i'm really not familiar with him. i read karamazov, c&p etc when i was younger and couldn't get into them. but that was before i got into to turgenev so i guess i'll come back to them.

would i take levi? i'm not sure. verus calvino? it'd have to be calvino i think

sunnydunny said...

A tough one swiss. As it happens I was asked a few years ago to make a choice of 3 - favourite book, favourite children's book, favourite recent book - for a World Book Day event.

Today my 8 would be:
Gunter Grass: The tin drum
Moby Dick
Trewin: The Geology of Scotland (I did the index)
RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening
Hinton: Mountain Home, the wilderness poems of ancient China
Basho: The narrow roads of the deep north
Wm Everson: Collected poems
Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials.

swiss said...

dark materials? another surprise choice! i love those rhs books tho. and everson? i don;t really know him. i must find out...

Niamh B said...

proust was a neuroscientist isn't really only about books - it's like a summary of the interest bits of alot of major artists work through history... worth a look

Sorlil said...

I'm amazed to see moby dick so consistantly up there, must get around to reading it. though tempted, I won't re-open the ray/bear debate...

Dominic Rivron said...

never read this ransome fellow?

I don't know why i'm obsessed with him, really. I read him as a child and I think he helped instil whatever sense of adventure i have in me. the ascent of Kanchenjunga in Swallowdale probably helped make me want to climb muntains when I was older.

Swallows and Amazons is a great book. The sequel, Swallowdale, is probably better. It's great to read as a child, although one suddenly hits an age where it seems to be rubbish. If one reaches that age before reading it, the only alternative is to wait until you grown up.

Roxana said...

i am with Rachel here, i have always failed! perhaps Kawabata? ideally with a dictionary, this would keep me busy forever :-) (again with Rachel, dictionaries :-)

but tomorrow i would answer differently, i think...

Rachel Fox said...

Kevin isn't a guilty pleasure, Titus, and I'm with you...it's a very good book.
x

Titus said...

Great minds, Ms Fox!