No review today, but while I’m up and typing, I thought I’d just ramble on about a few things. Belezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge 5 started in June, and I’m already well under way, with reviews of Yasunari Kawbata’s The Master of Go and Shusaku Endo’s Silence already posted. I have a copy of Kenzaburo Oe’s A Personal Matter waiting to be read, and somewhere in transit, at the bottom of a ship in the Pacific Ocean (possibly!), I have Yukio Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, and Kawabata’s The Sound of the Mountain and Beauty and Sadness straining to reach Australian shores.
This focus on J-Lit is also part of a slight change of emphasis for my blog. Since the impressive collapse of book-by-book posts earlier this year, I have thinking about how best to balance my desire to review and my various aches and pains. Recently, I have been trying to keep up with one post a week, particularly related to my favourite challenges, and I think devoting that post to a particular book, rather than madly trying to write one paragraph on everything I read, suits me better.
That doesn’t mean that it will all be J-Lit around here though. I have a German-language copy of Friedrich Delius’ Bildnis der Mutter als junge Frau, which some of you may know better as Peirene Press’ Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, and I’m hoping to read and review that very soon. Also, I’d like to continue to promote good Australian contemporary literature, so look out for more writers like Steven Carroll and Tim Winton.
Time permitting, of course…
Finally today, I just wanted to give you my humble thoughts on the recent V.S. Naipaul
incident (in which, as you probably already know, the always-cantankerous writer calmly dismissed all literature written by women as beneath him). I’m not even going to bother discussing his misogynistic opinions (there is no discussion possible); rather, I want to pick up on something I saw in the reports. The interviewer, from what I gather, asked his mightiness if he thought he was better than all female writers, even Jane Austen
…and that’s what interests me. If you were going to choose a knight in shining garters, an Amazon warrior to slay the ugly dragon Naipaul, the one representative to defend female literary honour, would you honestly choose Saint Jane? Really? Austen wrote classic novels, stories which will endure long after old V.S. has been committed to the filing cabinet of history, but is she really the automatic choice?
Personally, I think there are other, worthier female writers to saddle the horse and joust with the nasty Nobel Laureate. How about Virginia Woolf
? I’m sure she’d be handy with a sharp lance and an even sharper tongue. Or perhaps Edith Wharton
? With her cool observational skills, she would be bound to find the chinks in Naipaul’s metaphorical armour.
My choice, however, would be George Eliot
, a titan(ess) of the arena, guaranteed to make any male writer think twice about crossing swords (or pens) – and thick-skinned enough to cope much better with any pre-fight trash talk than the demure Austen…
So, dear readers, do any of you have any champions you’d like to suggest for this imaginary grudge match? Who should don the armour and put the Trinidadian motormouth in his place?
Yes, you’re right – it is time I took my pills…