Friday, January 13, 2012

A.S. Byatt - Possession

I finished a book that could have been quite spectacular. It deals with classic literature, a mystery and a pair of academics. They're all obsessed with a great English Victorian writer and/or his wife and a less known female poet. How can that go wrong? I'm not saying it went wrong, I just didn't fall in love with the book. I found it while browsing a list of long books worth the effort on Goodreads. First I wanted to read The Historian, but after reading some reviews where people went on about how historically incorrect it was, I decided not to read it. So I settled for Possession.

I like the book, it was interesting and the story is good, but it's full of boring poetry that I was completely unable to read and that went on for pages and pages and pages... The other parts I enjoyed. It's a dual story, so if you don't like the characters in the 20th century, you may at least like the ones in the 19th.

Since I've been listening to music from the movie Drive (absolutely beautiful movie, but not suitable for people who can't stand blood) recently I couldn't help but team up this song with this book:

Desiree's Under Your Spell

Some people can't read with music. I guess that must be the kind of people who actively listen to lyrics. I don't, so I prefer to listen to music when I study and read literature. Sometimes I end up matching songs with books. For some reason, Aqua's Good Morning Sunshine goes along with The Valley of Horses (Auel) that I read and loved when I was 11. Tears Never Dry (Stephen Simmonds) matches up with Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison. I know there must be many more, but I've forgotten them. These songs end up being like a soundtrack.

Anyway, I actually started watching the movie Possession from 2002, but only saw 30 minutes or so. If a movie bores me I have no problem at all shutting it off. Watching movies is not an accomplishment, reading books is, so generally I finish books even if they bore me. I think I shut off something like a third of the movies I watch though. Therefore I can't really say all that much about this movie, other than that it seemed silly in a way the book wasn't.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm really not good at updating.

As usual, I spent most of Christmas worrying about the things I had to do for the next term. Difficult books to read and all that, whereas all I wanted to read was fiction. And I did read some books, The Thornbirds and Wild Seed, both of which I recommend. For those of you who don't already know what the first one is about, suffice it to know that it's an old-fashioned epic drama of the kind that can't go wrong. The second is a somewhat more curious book, about immortality and what it does to morality. I have read some other books as well, but nothing worth commenting on just yet. If I don't get overwhelmed with university in the next couple of days I will try to write a bit about some other books as well.

Good stuff.

My classes haven't actually started, but since I have a very good supervisor for my master's thesis, I'm actually starting to work on it now and not in the fall, when I'm supposed to start. I'm planning to go spend the fall in the Ukraine with a friend of mine, so naturally it would be a good idea to get the work started already at this early stage. This means I'm reading far heavier books than those previously mentioned, like Christopher Lyon's Definiteness and Michael Flier's Aspects of Nominal Determination in Old Church Slavic. Naturally, it's quite frightening. I haven't written anything beyond 25 pages so far during my time as a student, and now I am going to write my master's thesis on long form and short form adjectives and participles in Old Church Slavonic. I'm also annotating a new saint vitae from Codex Suprasliensis for the corpus that I get my data from, Житие и страдание святого мученика Конона Исаврийского.

That's in addition to my classes, which are Variants of Russian, Russian written culture - origins and history up until the 18th century, and a double class on ancient Greek! I hope all of this won't be too overwhelming. I have a goal of reading 35 books this year and on keeping up learning Ukrainian very slowly. Writing this out I feel the need for a second glass of wine, and perhaps a whiskey (cheap, of course, I am but a student).

Today I got myself a second desk! I'm very thrilled about it, because ever since I got my first desk (and I was very happy about having a desk at last after having lived in tiny apartments in Oslo), the entire surface has always been covered by my huge keyboard, my ergonomic mouse, my laptop and my extra monitor. So I end up studying on the sofa. And falling asleep. In our new apartment, my office is so big I can have two desks, a cupboard, a bookshelf and still fit in a guest bed when someone comes to visit (something that never happens, but it may). Fabulous, isn't it? The best part is that I can avoid the awful assigned seats at University for master students, that you have to apply for and go to four times a week if you don't want to lose them. You find them in small rooms with bad ventilation and you sit at half a meter's distance from the next person. And you can't eat, drink, play music and all that. How can people study in that kind of environment?

Much better.