Fleeing the 19th Century
My Summer of Classics reading of Crime and Punishment is going even more sluggishly than expected - it's a great 150-page story buried under 500 more pages of long-winded digression - and so I'll soon be totally shifting gears. The book will take me several more weeks to finish, but after that there's no way I'm reading Gogol's Dead Souls, as I had previously planned. (In fact, after Dostoevsky, Dickens, Stendhal, Flaubert, etc., I might never read another 19th Century European novel.) Instead, I'm going to wrap up the summer with Richard Wright's Native Son. Like many Americans, I first read the book during high school, but I don't think I've ever re-read it since. The copy that I now own is the Harper Perennial/Library of America edition which restores several controversial scenes which were expurgated from the original publication. I'm particularly looking forward to my reaction to Native Son, after having re-read Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man several months ago. My impression is that Ellison's is the greater novel, but I'll give Wright every chance to disprove that.