Excellent. I didn't know much about the Romantic poets and their entourages, but having heard Daisy Hay talk on the radio about this book, I was hookeExcellent. I didn't know much about the Romantic poets and their entourages, but having heard Daisy Hay talk on the radio about this book, I was hooked into her essential idea about the importance of sociability and the friendship groups to all these writers. What I didn't know I was going to get was such a thorough deconstruction of the negative impact of 'free love' on the women in the circle, and such a thorough picture of what it was to be an educated creative woman in that period. Basically, once you had the children, the men just ignored you and you had to be domestic while they continued with their work and fun shenanigans. Plus when your men died, you were screwed financially unless you had your own money. The expectation of all the men that the women would always be available to them in whichever ways they needed was a bit intense. Oh, also, if you split from the father of your child, he had the right to take them off you and do whatever he wanted with them, like send them to a convent and ignore them forever. Byron comes off like a total ass in this book. Leigh Hunt was also an interesting character I'd hitherto not heard of.
Hay tells it all like a really interesting story, I could see a movie adaptation rolling out in front of my eyes. Sadly I looked at all the illustrations once I reached that section, including the ones that related to incidents that hadn't happened in the narrative yet. Some paintings should have spoiler warnings on them, I don't care if the events were 180 years ago. Honestly, when will I learn this about illustrations?
It's a really really good book and now I don't need to read Shelley cause I've got the gist in a more entertaining way. ...more
Oh man, this is a tough one. I don't want to review it under peer pressure. The thing is, Bolaño is brilliant, but frustrating. I respect this book, bOh man, this is a tough one. I don't want to review it under peer pressure. The thing is, Bolaño is brilliant, but frustrating. I respect this book, but I didn't enjoy it. I almost never lost myself in it. I think it's something about his rhythm; it's like wading through the mud. Is it that I've already been through those years of floating around making bad decisions? Bolaño overstays his welcome, a bit, he's the guy who you don't really know well enough but who still asks you for the key to your Paris sublet when he knows you're away for the weekend, and you know full well that if you were going to be there, he would probably not even bother to look you up. Am I confusing the arrogance of his characters with him himself - wait, they're his alter egos, so yeah. I don't know. Sometimes he's so wonderful, but then I resist, resist, resist, while I'm actually reading. The scene he describes is so suffocating. I spent many years in a scene like that. Is that it? I don't know. And it did my head in, the jumping from interviewee to interviewee. Sometimes I loved this book. I loved the final section. But I was just like, let a little bit of light in here, please, almost the *whole* way through. Maybe what I want to say is, I think his experiment works, but I didn't particularly *like* it. It was just so fucking hard to read and all that detachment drove me crazy. Because I suppose I'm looking for a connection in my reading, and he just won't throw you a bone in that department, you know? Just as you find a flow, he dumps that character. But seriously, what am I looking for in a book anyway, eh? I don't want *no* challenge, but I don't want it to feel like work *all the time*. And when it's over I want to feel different, especially if I didn't enjoy the reading. There were a lot of similarities with 2666 and this, actually. (view spoiler)[The literary questing after an elusive writer, mostly. And obviously this compartmentalised structure. (hide spoiler)] Look, it's only my experience, right? Perhaps I read it at the wrong time. Perhaps I was feeling weak (I was). But part of me thinks the book made me feel weak. Weak and dirty and a bit sicker than I already am (which is a bit, actually). Maybe you can only read about misdirected lives when you feel yours is under control, or it's all too much. Also I think maybe I'm prejudiced against poetry. Certainly poets. That's probably not fair, is it?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more