[DWJ] What are you reading?

Jenny Schwartzberg schwartzbergj at newberry.org
Mon Nov 2 16:24:36 EST 2009


Dear Helen,

Thanks for the information on Yonge.  I suspect that there are a lot of 
references to Telemaque in 18th- and 19th-century fiction that pass 
unobserved because we don't recognize them anymore.  I'm just starting 
to explore how much of an impact it had and it's really fascinating.

Yours,
Jenny

Helen Schinske wrote:
> ----- 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, though.
>
> Helen Schinske
>
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