Just finished reading George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying. This was initially set as one of the texts on our reading list but was later on voted off in favour of Beckett’s Happy Days, which I don’t know anything about, nor have read yet. Well, I felt I didn’t know Orwell that much in the context of Modernism, so I went along and bought Aspidistra anyway. It certainly does fit the framework of this module, which is centred around the relationship between the intellectuals and mass culture. I am certainly (and should be) getting a feel of what was going on in that period, even if the authors/artists I encounter always seem to be flitting in and out of the categories they have themselves invented. I find this somewhat funny sometimes, though I shouldn’t be feeling like this, having to write an essay soon on the Modernist writers’ conception and presentation of the theme of education. Given their mixed views on this particular subject, laughter should be the last thing on my mind. But I can’t help it. They’re very slippery, these guys.
Yesterday, I managed to finish William Golding’s Pincher Martin. A very depressing (but quick) read, or maybe it’s just me. I certainly find similar traits with The Lord of the Flies, which is a powerful and dark text. Pincher Martin is going to be briefly mentioned in my dissertation as one of the precursors of the genre I’m analysing in Banks’ The Bridge. The individual (?) self and its relationship with space; the dissolution and/or fragmentation of the self are what interest me here.
Anyway, I plan to finish my essay by this Sunday so that I may have the whole of next week to work upon my dissertation. All this reading is preventing me from actually writing anything down.
It’s been very quiet this whole week. Not many people are around in my accommodation – I mean the whole complex of blocks. Most people are away for Easter. Even many of the Internationals are out, either visiting the country or other countries. But most international students are still – like me – grounded here in Leeds. All the same, the atmosphere around Leeds is very different. Rather festive, in a way, especially when you walk in the city centre but (where I live) also vacant and forlorn, especially since Leeds is very much a student city.
For two nights now, I’ve been hearing loud merry-making from the other side of the hedge, where the noisiest (in every sense) people live. But this being holiday time, I cannot grudge them that, not even the strange squeals at around midnight or the pseudo-satanic (well they try) laughter around 2 am, or even the phantomatic ice-cream van with its strident music that seems to emanate from all directions. The thing is that I have to keep my window open. It’s been open for 4 days now. It’s not very cold now. And I require lots and lots of fresh air, which my lilliputian room doesn’t seem to provide.
Today has been a really radiant day. Pity I haven’t been out much this week. It’s pretty hard (but not that hard) to maintain a rigid timetable and work schedule these days, especially when you’re on your own. Well, I try. It’s all too easy and tempting to reach out for the TV set concealed under the table and just switch it on. After that, time just flies by. It’s a good thing that the bars on my windows and the thick walls prevent me from actually seeing anything on that telly.
Well, that’s all for now.
Samuel Beckett’s Collected Shorter Prose: 1945-1980 beckons.