Tuesday, 24 August 2010

But at my back I always hear Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near

The view from my study window

To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell is one of my favourite poems as I understand that sense of urgency about life. Obviously, his goal is quite different from mine! But, I am finding myself more and more with a feeling that there are just not enough hours in the day. Had I but world enough indeed as I make endless plans to get things done and find that the week has flown by once more. So, I am turning more and more to the beautiful sky that I have found over Oxford - it is amazing how little sky I saw in London. Why wasn't I looking? Now I just can't seem to escape the overwhelming beauty of it as it catches my eye everyday.

But, as Marvell's poem encourages, I just need to crack on and wade through my Nile-length to do list - it has been almost a week since I went along to a book group in Oxford that Simon (Stuck in Book) was kind enough to take me to, as he is a regular at two book groups. I had a lovely time and the book was Frankenstein which Simon posted about here. I had great fun disagreeing with Simon and some other members of the group about who we should sympathise with, Frankenstein or his creation. I am a member of 'Team Creation' myself as I find Dr Frankenstein a completely unlikeable character not least because he never takes responsibility for his actions. I could go on at length here as I did last Wednesday but I will spare you my rant. I think I actually started to foam at the mouth at one point so perhaps they won't let me go back!

The next book on the list is Villette, I sometimes wonder if I am in the Truman Show as someone somewhere must have rigged it so that the books for the next couple of months are nineteenth century. Still, I have vowed to read more nineteenth century so I shall give it a go. Although, I am making poor headway with Jane Eyre. Which is another thing that I must finish.

Recently, I have been reading novels set in Oxford, The Lessons by Naomi Alderman was really interesting but I will do a post on that soon. I am now reading a crime novel by Veronica Stallwood, Death and the Oxford Box - to be honest it isn't blowing me away but then nothing compares to a Colin Dexter or Dorothy L. Sayers. Which, reminds me I had planned to read Gaudy Night again which I love. Harriet Vane, with her backbone of steel, is such a great character. More on that anon.

So, lots of reading plans. And now I have booked to go to the Iris Murdoch conference in September which I am really looking forward to but I need to swot up before I go! I nipped into the Oxfam Bookshop on St Giles today and found a copy of Bruno's Dream which I snapped up. Perhaps I should stop looking at the sky so much - and that way, I might yet make the sun run!


  1. I've just spent a lovely time reading and re reading this poem. It's made me think more of the long term time, rather than all that I need to get done, and how thankful I am to have met my love but yet... I wish I had more of that time together. I am also a real slow coach in getting emotionally ready for things so this could definately be a poem about me too.
    My favourite line?
    'Let us roll all our strength and all
    Our sweetness up into one ball,'
    Keep being uplifted by the sky too.

  2. Sky? What's that?!

    Beautiful photo! I have obviously been trading in some favours with Him upstairs to conspire to make your life a nineteenth century hell...you're going to LOVE Villette, promise. It has modernist aspects and everything! Dream sequences! Tragedy!

  3. I know what you mean by addicted by the sky, I have about a hundred of pics like this!

  4. The sky is a wonderful thing to behold indeed, except perhaps when it is as grey as slate. However cramped or gloomy things might seem at ground level, a big blue sky or a glorious sunset offers a glimpse of beauty and a welcome sense of space.

    The Stallwood books may not be Morse, but I have found them to be an enjoyable light read. I was reading Gaudy Night last week and appreciated it very much. I had not taken to Wimsey, the gentleman detective, when first encountered in radio dramatisations but then, as you suggest, Harriet Vane is really the star of this particular book.

  5. It's good to look at the sky. Probably much better than reading Jane Eyre. She's been around a long time and will wait, but all the rest of that 19th century stuff - get to it!

  6. So pleased to have discovered your blog - and loved the Hay on Wye post. Totally agree re prices there. I'm also a fan of the old green Viragos! (Particulalry Rosamund Lehmann)

  7. Enjoy the Iris Murdoch conference! I'm sure it will be illuminating.

    By any chance have you come across an article that suggests that Murdoch's language was limited, even early on, and was indication of the onset of Alzheimer's? Apparently there's been a study or theory of some sort... I'm intrigued.

  8. Oh no! my comment has just disappeared! Good luck with your extensive to-do list and the new book group - but don't get too bogged down .... 'Had we but world enough and time' - so much would be achieved but its good to enjoy the sunsets as well.

    Thank you for reminding me of this sublime poem:-)


  9. I love Gaudy Night but I've not read any other titles by Sayers. Any recommendations?

  10. What a lovely photo.

    Gaudy Night is one of my favorite books. It must be a wonderful treat to get to read it in Oxford. Any trips to Somerville College forthcoming? :)