11 February, 2006

Tumbrels, psychoanalysis and New Left polemic

Two fantastic books in the last week: Dickens's A tale of two cities. [10] Why have I never read this before? The language is beautiful, the story is gripping, the whole thing is much tauter than Dickens usually is (while still not actually being taut, of course). Here's a beautiful quotation, with such a wonderfully ambiguous, subtle reaction to the French revolution:

Along the Paris streets, the death-carts rumble, hollow and harsh. Six tumbrels carry the day’s wine to La Guillotine. All the devouring and insatiate Monsters imagined since imagination could record itself, are fused in one realization, Guillotine. And yet there is not in France, with its rich variety of soil and climate, a blade, a leaf, a root, a sprig, a peppercorn, which will grow to maturity under conditions more certain than those that have produced this horror. Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind.

The other book was Herbert Marcuses's An essay on liberation. Rollicking, New Left stuff, fabulously polemical and joyous and angry at the same time. Highly recommended. [11]

Books for this weekend - some decent reading towards my Linguistics essay, and the rest of Freud's Short introduction to psychoanalysis. Freud's also good fun. You'll be trotting along, enjoying the slightly dry, infinitely sensible writing style, and out of the blue suddenly he brings up your mother's penis. Not her actual penis, of course; just the penis that you as her son imagined her to have had - which in itself leads to your terrible fear of a similar mutilation. Good fun, and another writer I must read more of.


problemshelved said...

What, you only just read A Tale of Two Cities? You must be a moron. Signed, Mum.

No, but seriously,somehow we're all fooled into reading Great Expectations and Oliver Twist first but ATOTC is by far the better book. Puts Dickens miles ahead of other Vic. Nov.s for story-telling.

BTW I'd like to come on Sunday. Let me know what's happening.

weierstrass said...

i like the idea that it's much better to read (some) freud as literature than as science, especially all that little hans / wolf man stuff. also that what all the subconscious / development really tells us about is what was on freuds mind.
like everyone else, he suffered from the delusion that everyone else's thoughts and emotions were just like his own..

definitely agree about 2 Cities, BTW.