Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Chain

Stumbling and Mumbling has passed this on to me, and been unnecessarily and probably incorrectly - as proved below - generous about my literary accomplishments, for which, thanks.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451; which book do you want to be?
This is awkward, because I've got an awful memory, so it'd have to be short, ruling out a lot of philosophical works (A Theory of Justice is definitely out, for example, not that I'd have wanted it anyway) and of novels (the idea that I might be able to remember all of Ondjaate's The English Patient's transcendent prose is laughable, unfortunately). I was going to make myself seem like an infantile nostalgist, and say Rosemary Sutcliffe's Bonnie Dundee - which is a relatively short, wonderfully understated and human, historical novel for children - but I'm going to go with Donald Davidson's Essays On Actions and Events, which, although it is relatively dense, contains what is probably my favourite philosophical paper ever, Mental Events, and in its quiet way, is a manifesto for political and social change.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
I don't think it really qualifies as a crush - I've always been prone to hero-worship than crushes, which presumably implies something about my sexual preferences - but I've always found Iain M. Banks's major female characters quite sexy, particularly the ones in Against A Dark Background and The Use Of Weapons (whose names I forget, and can't look up, because I don't have the books with me). Also Molly, with the inset sunglasses and retractable blades under her red-painted fingernails, in various William Gibson novels. This probably also says something perhaps better not said about my sexual preferences as well.

What are you currently reading?
Julian Barnes's England, England and the first volume of John Plamenatz's Man and Society, the first for fun, and because I liked The History of The World In 10 and 1/2 Chapters and the second because I have an exam on Political Thought From Machiavelli To Burke in a couple of months (and cos it's interesting, but less that than the pressing need of exams).

The last book you bought is:
England, England and A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry (at the same time, you see).

The last book you read is:
A Fine Balance, which is less impressive than everyone else seems to think - the prose isn't very good, and there's something rather unsatisfactory about the end - and A History of Modern Political Thought, by Iain Hampsher-Monk, for the same reasons as the Plamenatz.

Five books you would take to a desert island:
I'm not going to assume an abandoned stock of the classics, because I think that's cheating: it makes the other choices easier. I'd like a decent historical atlas (I've got the collins one, which is fine, but maybe there are better ones), because they're endlessly interesting; a subscription to the LRB, because, again, it's usually interesting and provocative, if that's not cheating (and if it is, the Bible, not a vuglarized modern version, but the flowing prose of the King James version: plenty of reading there); a copy of the collected works of Kant, because... well, he's Kant, and I was always too lazy to read him properly, if at all, when an undergraduate; the collected works of Bernard Williams, which ought to be coming out fairly soon, as he's dead, and if not that, then Ethics And The Limits Of Philosophy, because it's so damn good (and well written - or maybe Scanlon's magnum opus, What We Owe To Each Other, which has exactly the same virtues - arggh, too much choice: coin-flipping may be called for); and finally, a decent annotated version of all of Shakespeare - all of humanity is contained within.

Who are you going to pass this stick to, and why?
Pearsall of his books, because I'm intrigued to see what he'll say on a personal level as well as a general one, Cirdan, of A Philosophical Commonplace Book and The Shipwright Returns, because he seems interesting, and Chris Brooke, because hopefully his choices'll be a decent guide to reading on Marx and Rousseau, both of whom I know less about than I should (not that that should constrain him).


Cirdan said...

Cheers, I've put a list up.

Pearsall Helms said...

As have I