Books, not which afford us a cowering enjoyment, but in which each thought is of unusual daring; such as an idle man cannot read, and a timid one would not be entertained by, which even make us dangerous to existing institution—such I call good books. - Henry David Thoreau
Friday, March 18, 2011
The Literary Blog Hop Wants You to Consider Your Own Mortality
Debbie Nance over at Readerbuzz apparently had quite the St. Patrick's Day because she's thinking about death. And as a green-blooded Irish-American, I can tell you that a Jameson-soaked contemplation of The End is often the unwanted byproduct of the hours of Guinness-swilling jubilation that precede it. But I give her credit--what could be more Irish than to tie a contemplation of one's own mortality to a work of great literature? Here's to you, Debbie. Slainte!
The question Debbie posed over at the Literary Blog Hop is the following: What one literary work must you read before you die? Like everyone else that's weighed in on this topic, I'm pulled in ten different directions at once.
If I'm recommending to others from the books that I've read over the course of my life, I think I'd have to go with Ulysses by James Joyce. The fact that Joyce was Irish is merely a happy coincidence, but I'll toast him just the same. Slainte! Though it was a struggle to get through, I think I've never been as intimate with the characters of a literary work nor have I ever seen such mastery in Joyce's playful manipulation of the English language. Ultimately, it is hands down the most rewarding work of literature that I've ever read.
Now, if we're talking about the one literary work that I feel that I must read before I die, I'm going with Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. There's something about the decline of an entire civilization that makes your own mortality just a little bit easier to contemplate.
Thanks to Debbie and the girls at the Blue Bookcase for a great topic.
Patrick (at The Literate Man)