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February 27, 2011

Can Lit?

I br0ught a few Canadian novels with me, but have actually forgotten that Canada was ever such a place, so they’ve remained unopened in my suitcase. Instead, I’ve delighted in three epistolary novels in a row. The first was Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster, which wasn’t remotely English, except for the umbrellas on the cover, and that was enough– I really liked it. Next was Burley Cross Postbox Theft, which was absolutely brilliant– I loved the ending. And on Friday, I read Felicity and Barbara Pym by Harrison Solow, which was even stranger than Nicola Barker’s novel, if such a thing was possible, but I adored it. The novel consists of correpondance from an academic to a student undertaking the study of liberal arts at an American university who is about to begin a seminar on Barbara Pym. Who is unclear about why she should bother to read Barbara Pym, and the academic is unscathing in her criticism of the student’s point of view, of her limitations. Unbashedly snobbish (but not in all respects. She recommends Miss Read and Jilly Cooper’s Class in order to understand Pym’s world), as she takes down the student for her own provincialism and then proceeds to outline why we should bother reading Barbara Pym, as well as how we should approach the liberal arts, which is by drawing a connection between impeccable literary analysis and the wider world. Connections between the insular nature of Pym’s village life and ideas of the earth-centred universe, and the island mentality of the English anyway. Absolutely fascinating, and though I appreciated Barbara Pym before I read it, I picked up her Less Than Angels next, of course, and I am a better reader now.

This weekend, we had a wonderful time in Glasgow with good friends (two of whom hopped over from Ireland for the occasion). The drive was lovely, the city was so vibrant and beautiful, and the sun shone and shone and we haven’t paid for it yet. Plus, we had afternoon tea at the Willow Tea Rooms, and had the kind of fun last night that is only possible in the company of the Scottish and the Irish. Tomorrow, to Yorkshire, and then a drive down South, then a day in London, and a day in Windsor, and before we know it, we’ll be home again, home again (and happy to be there. Though apparently, there is snow?).

2 thoughts on “Can Lit?”

  1. clazgeds says:

    i am happy to be on the same continent as you. hope you bring the sun south to London as its keeping itself scarce. let me know if by some miracle you happen to be on LDN’s glittering southbank! xx

  2. steph says:

    Yes, there is snow. And cold. I’m freezing and curled up on the couch wrapped in a thick fleece blanket. Windchill is currently -17. Believe me, you’re not missing anything.

    One more time and then I promise I’ll stop: I’m so jealous of you!! And either it’s the perspective or real: your treats appear giant!

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