Words...words... what beauty may be formed with them. Amazing. An artist wields them most elegantly and turns out grand literature which is a joy simply to read. Good usage of words is the basic criteria in my opinion of good literature. Which is why most modern literature I find distasteful. While it i scertainly a distraction at times to read fast-paced books, it can hardly become a habit. Never with me. And sadly, most literature toay seems as though it is made for movies. The end of the second world war may be a fairly good divider between the older form of literature and themodern. Very, very few of the recent reads have provided me with half as much pleasure as does a hundredth re-read of "Good bye Mr. Chips".
I try not to be cynical - but I just cannot help it. On repeated recommendations, I took up at last Mr Salinger's "Catcher in the rye" and felt utterly disgusted half-way through the bok. I do not see any reason why the book has to be toasted a "classic". There is such filth in the language - such nauseating use of words that it positively made me sick. Is using good language so difficult for the authors of today ? Anyway, thats that. It is basically the search for beautiful prose that made me go back in time to the classics and discover the wealth of literature there. And the generation that inspired from the great authors of the mid and late 19th century survived into the firts half of the 20th century. Which is why there was some fine literature during the early 20th century.
I started off with an intention of presenting my favourites and likes in literature, but lo, here I am running around what I dont like. "Look on the brighter side" said the wise old men - and thankfully, there is enough on the brighter side to keep me engaged most of the time. I manage to discover some fine work now and then - some fine author into whose works I dwell then.
Discoveries - Serendipity ?
My first literary joy was reading Enid Blyton's "Naughtiest Girl in the school". I was aged some 8 or so then - and the book made an enormous impact on me. I have ever since adored Elizabeth Allen - the impulsive and most lovable naughty child. I have ever since been a fan of Enid Blyton - and I steel read her books, though I am nearly 30 now. My friends scoff at me - but the joys of her school tales and other very jolly fantasies (like the Magic faraway tree, the Wishing chair etc) continue to provide great joy.
For a short while later, I was an avid reader of the Three Investigators, certainly the best series of boys' mystery. I found them to be vastly superior to the much-hyped-but-hardly-engaging Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew stories. Once onto mystery , it was but a natural stride to Sherlock Holmes' tales. Wonderful read they were too. I used to pose my knowledge at school by conversing in the Sherlockian English - filled with the popular phrases which have since adorned any number of mystery books. Agatha Christie's mysteries followed Arthur Conan Doyle's and Hercule Poirot followed Shrlock Holmes. Hardly as interesting, the Belgian detective however managed to keep me enthralled in the mysteries for over two years.
College life began with my being on the last few Christie books. And I found that the genre itself was running thin. Ngaio Marsh's books were hardly interesting enough - and sadly, I just could not keep myself immersed for more than a few minutes in a Dorothy Sayers mystery. Finally, I found a book called "A blunt Instrument" by an author called Georgette Heyer. And enjoyed the book no end. The magnificent humour running through the book attracted me immediately. And on checking this author out with the other book-worms in my family, I found her to be a family favourite. And also that she was better known as a writer of romances. And on one of my uncle's recommendations, I started off on a romance (tentatively) called "A Reluctant Widow". And I was hooked !! I have ever since been a great Heyer fan. I have devoured all her regency Comedies - I prefer to call them comedies. Her prose is magnificent - but more on her in the page I have made on her.
P.G.Wodehouse was a side-by-side read with Heyer. Both have given me umpteen moments of embarassment on buses when I sudedenly feel obliged to laugh, when remembering the situations of their books. Hilarious stuff.
Once I was into Heyer, Austen was just a step away. And from Austen I entered the world of classics and have ever since discovered umpteen treasures there. Thackeray, Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Dickens, Emily Bronte (her one work is much better than all the works of Charlotte Bronte put together) - I have been fascinated by all their works. To these legends of literature my heartfelt gratitude for the hours and hours of pleasure I have had.
Before I ask you to check out the releated pages I have made, I cannot hel mentioning L.M.Montgomery. Her books have opened my eyes into a new world - a world where beauty and innocence remains. A world where I escape too when this world gets too ... well, too much for me. Its escapism perhaps. But one which keeps me refreshed all the time. Her books shall ever spread joy and beauty amongst readers.
Right, now you may follow the following links to pages I have made on some of my favourite authors. Hope our tastes meet and we happen to be Kindred Souls.