Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Modest Return

My best friend Joel once complained while mired in the Death March of his dissertation that he should be tested on what he could relate while smoking and drinking, his panache and bricolage would then be revealed as they actually were, infinite. Alas, he is now Doctor Vessels and he never managed to have his orals over Guinness. I think my better thoughts appear on foggy mornings as I take my clients for walks or when I sit in the library with my friend Lesley as she wordlessly flips through atlases and offers smiles to the passing world. My thoughts this a.m. surrounded the French revolution and literature. My pace in Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety has been frantic at times, though the adjustment of returning to work has narrowed those avenues. Perhaps this emblematic of malnourished grasp of French letters, but aside from Balzac's treatment of Fouche and Anatole France's novel, I remain at a loss. Peter Weiss certainly supplied an explosive play. Napoleon looms large by comparison through Stendhal and all subsequent popular uprisings found passage in Hugo, Zola and beyond. Is there, then, a better novel of the Revolution than Dickens Tale of Two Cities?


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