online: 4 april 2010 modified: 2 april 2010 2 april 2010 at the edge
the 39 steps
...bracken, squashed flat by winds and rains and extended winter in this sunny interval in a rainy day or week or season... the sky is clear and night is beginning... within trees there is partial darkness and in open spaces there is still light...
...all is quiet and still though in each and every thing is both life and death and uncertainty and joy and anger etc (though these more human qualities may not be universal)... i hear laughter behind me and other voices... and beeping sounds from a service vehicle below this little hill with a view to the west... the direction of the sun... but don't overlook the wild animal in all of us... and the vast powers in everything... (defeats also)... says a voice that seems to come from within
...for days i've been reading Anna Karenina* and other writings by or about L N Tolstoy while feeling too ill (with a cold) to do much else... but now, energised by an email that's taken three years to reach me** i am eager to catch up with life and return to the joy of simple actions such as replying to emails... and writing this... in the forest...
...i hear a mechanical bell from the nearby park (at the edge of the forest) where i came this evening with renewed pleasure... but it's getting dark and a cold wind begins to blow...
*Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenin, translated by Rosemary Edmonds, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex 1954, reprinted 1983.
...Anna Karenina is sometimes said to be the best novel ever written... e.g. in the 'all-time, ultimate Top Top 10 list***, derived from the top 10 lists of 125 of the world's most celebrated writers':
1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
7. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
10. Middlemarch by George Eliot
...searching via Google i see several denials of this or any book being 'the best'... (a crude attempt to measure the immeasurable)... and much evidence that a newer translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is much more literal... and therefore 'better' than the one i am reading... for instance about 2 percent of the text is in French (which is translated in footnotes)...
**John Langrish, through what to him was a computerslip but to me was a happy mistake, wrote three diffferent and interesting replies to an invitation to my 80th birthday picnic in 2007... but he did not send them until today - when they lifted me out of 'feeling ill' to 'going out of doors and writing this!'
***(the Top Top 10 novels are from Time magzine:
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