[DWJ] What are you reading?

Helen Schinske hschinske at aol.com
Mon Nov 2 15:13:57 EST 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jenny Schwartzberg" <schwartzbergj at newberry.org>
To: "Diana Wynne Jones discussion" <dwj at suberic.net>
Sent: Monday, November 02, 2009 11:27 AM
Subject: Re: [DWJ] What are you reading?

> Ah, I don't know if what I'm reading is appropriate for discussion, except 
> that it's the very first novel for adolescents, Les Aventures de 
> Telemaque, fils d'Ulysse (first published in 1699).  Known in English as 
> The Adventures of Telemachus, the son of Ulysses.  I'd be curious if 
> anyone on the list knows this book and how they come to know it since it's 
> mostly forgotten today except as a French "classic" novel.  But in its day 
> it was a major bestseller in all the European languages and remained part 
> of every well-educated boy's library for two centuries.
I've heard of it through Charlotte Yonge's book _A Modern Telemachus_, but 
have never read it. _A Modern Telemachus_, by the way, is based on a true 
story of shipwreck, not on _Telemaque_, but one of the characters is fond of 
_Telemaque_ and makes frequent references to it. (I find on Google Books 
that several of Yonge's characters make reference to Telemaque, which I 
hadn't previously noticed.) In _A History of Christian Names_, Yonge says 
"Telemachus (distant battle) had one notable namesake in the devoted hermit 
who for ever ended the savage fights of the amphitheatre; but, though 
Telemaque [the novel] was a triumph of genius and tender religious feeling 
in spite of bad pseudo-classical taste, has not been again repeated."

I have been reading some essays and letters of George Orwell, and re-reading 
the letters of Jessica Mitford. It was quite a surprise to find Orwell 
worrying about the British birthrate, and suggesting seriously that there 
should be centralized laundries (with pickup and delivery) to make taking 
care of babies easier, so that the average family size could be closer to 
four children than two. Apparently the possibility of electric washing 
machines was not even on his radar (though they were already fairly common 
in the US -- there were even coin-op ones in apartment houses by then).

Oh, and I also read _Liar_, by Justine Larbalestier, the other day. I 
usually hate first-person present-tense books, but this one was really well 
done. It was a real page-turner *and* I'm enjoying thinking about it 
afterward. It's maddening that it's so hard to discuss without spoilers, 

Helen Schinske 

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