Old Moon

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rereading an Old Favorite

There seems to be a point at which too many things are clamoring against the skull, begging to be let out. I haven't posted in a while in part because I can't decide which of those notions might be right for this spot.

My first adventure with getting a youngster settled into a college dormitory, adventures with a neighbor who is about as comfortable with his lovely new PC as I might be with a Lamborghini, unexpected wildlife in my almost-but-not-quite rural setting, trying to find a way to go to sleep before midnight without total exhaustion first, comments on current reading…

Maybe the latter is the best. I'm more than half way through my third reading of a book I read first shortly after it was published. It has been out of print for many years. I sought out a copy several years ago because I had, after reading it the second time, wanted to own it. Imagine my surprise to discover it is now available again — and in paper! (Deliberate attempt to make the reader ask what in the world IS this book?) It's called Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright.

A "Utopian" novel published in the early forties (after the author's death, I believe) and set about ten years before World War I. Wright's sister apparently put it together and edited it slightly. She said it was a work that consumed more than ten years, and that her brother seemed to have no intention of trying to publish it.

If a reader would like to become immersed (I used the word advisedly) in a long (over 1000 pages) and detailed account not only of a nonexistent world, but also intriguing and unexpected characters, told in a style reminiscent of the late Nineteenth Century, this is the book for you. Just saying I'm reading it for the third time will give a notion of how much is included worth revisiting. For today's short attention spans, it's quite feasible to skim many of the descriptive passages, which indeed are a little repetitious, but in spite of the incredible volume of information, the story told by the narrator is as suspenseful in its way as any thriller.

Not just the style is slightly archaic, so is John Lang's (the protagonist's) own personality and morals. I'm old enough to find that extremely attractive. If you like a love story that builds sexual tension to an almost unbearable pitch, can admire enormous self-control, and were ever an adolescent with a yen for a date from the Round Table, this is the story for you.

1 comment:

Glenda C. Beall said...

I missed you. This book seems to be appealing in many ways. Thanks for posting about it. But I'd like to hear about the neighbor and the new PC or the animals in your area.
You have much to write about.I look forward to more.