Some choice quotes... "One realizes here that man-drapery and man-underwear is quite as important as woman's, if not more.
I, of course, in a rage."
"I cSome choice quotes... "One realizes here that man-drapery and man-underwear is quite as important as woman's, if not more.
I, of course, in a rage."
"I confess my heart stood still. But is mere historical fact so strong, that what one learns in bits from books can move one so? Or does the very word call an echo out of the dark blood? It seems so to me. It seems to me from the darkest recesses of my blood comes a terrible echo at the name of Mount Eryx: something quite unaccountable."
"But the hateful, unmanly insolence of these lords of toil, now they have their various 'unions' behind them and their 'rights' as working men sends my blood black. They are ordinary men no more: the human, happy Italian is most marvellously vanished."
"I have a peculiar aversion to these ink-pots. Once in Liguria we had a boat of our own and paddled with the peasant paddlers. Alessandro caught ink-pots: and like this. He tied up a female by a string in a cave-the string going through a convenient hole in her end. There she lived, like an Amphitrite's wire-haired terrier tied up, till Alessandro went a-fishing. Then he towed her, like a poodle behind. And thus, like a poodly-bitch, she attracted hangers-on in the briny seas. And these poor polymp inamorati were the victims. They were lifted as prey on board, where I looked with horror on their grey, translucent tentacles and large, cold, stony eyes. The she-polyp was towed behind again. But after a few days she died.
And I think, even for creatures so awful-looking, this method is indescribably base, and shows how much lower than an octopus even, is lordly man."
"The Cathedral must have been a fine old pagan stone fortress once. Now it has come, as it were, through the mincing machine of the ages, and oozed out baroque and sausagey, a bit like the horrible baldachins in St. Peter's at Rome."
"One realizes, with horror, that the race of men is almost extinct in Europe. Only Christ-like heroes and woman-worshipping Don Juans, and rabid equality-mongrels. The old, hardy, indomitable male is gone. ...Nothing left but the herd-proletariat and the herd-equality mongrelism, and the wistful poisonous self-sacrificial cultured soul. How detestable."
"Italy is so tender—like cooked macaroni—yards and yards of soft tenderness ravelled round everything."
"Give me the old, salty way of love. How I am nauseated with sentiment and nobility, the macaroni slithery-slobbery mess of modern adorations." (Put that on a Valentine.)...more
Overrated, in my opinion. I'm not really a nonfiction reader, so I was out of my comfort zone to begin with. Schiff seemed to keep making the point thOverrated, in my opinion. I'm not really a nonfiction reader, so I was out of my comfort zone to begin with. Schiff seemed to keep making the point that the REAL Cleopatra has been lost to myth and mostly sexist heresy, yet provides very little in the way of facts, because, hey, very few facts seem to exist. Yet, instead of sticking closely to the facts that she does provide, she injected plenty of her own romanticizing, without even telling us from where she draws what is obviously her own personal impression. I realize that history is not objective, but it seems a bit hypocritical to be constantly lambasting the ancient historians that she cites for being too slanted when she does the exact same thing. Also, constantly complaining about how sexist everyone was before the 20th century is a little...dumb. Really? Roman historians were sexist? They feared powerful, intelligent women? They tried to put them down by hypersexualizing them? YOU DON'T SAY!
My brother thinks that I, like he, am too much of a snob for criticizing such things. Well, I am. But c'mon people, the NYT rated it as one of the top 10 books of the year in 2010, and Schiff has won a Pulitzer Prize. So kill me if I expect more. Read Shakespeare instead....more
It's hard to explain exactly how I feel about this book. On the one hand, it is clearly A Significant Novel destined for the classics shelf. It's veryIt's hard to explain exactly how I feel about this book. On the one hand, it is clearly A Significant Novel destined for the classics shelf. It's very ambitious and all-encompassing, comprised of at least three major plotlines and a laundry list of characters. I loved some of the ideas presented in the novel, such as the film that is so absorbing that you literally can't stop watching. On the other hand, it was frequently a quite frustrating and tedious novel. Wallace continually makes references to characters or organizations that you don't yet know about or understand, or in some cases will never know or understand. Eschaton drove me up the wall (though I imagine a lot of people enjoyed this part). It reminded me of Bleak House in the sense that you have to wait and wait and slog through so many pages before pieces of the plot start falling together. Unlike Bleak House, Infinite Jest never offers you any kind of neat resolution. Or a resolution at all, really. The ending was possibly the most irritating moment of all, although by that point, I was just relieved to be done with the book. I found it incredibly difficult to finish, even though people have told me/I've read that people can't put it down after a certain point. I just grew tired of the tedium and the incessant darkness.
I'm surprised that more people aren't bothered by the darkness of the novel. Yes, it is funny, but it's also incredibly depressing. All of the characters are addicts, whether to drugs or some other distraction (tennis, sex, grammar, etc). No one is happy except for the horribly deformed Mario Incandenza. Mario is probably the only bright point of the novel, but even his happiness is tainted by his naivete and sheltered nature. His happiness doesn't seem real, almost as fake as the happiness of a drug high, because he doesn't really know enough about the world. And there's no way out for the addicts- eventually, whatever they're addicted to loses its potency or otherwise ruins their lives, so they seek out help. But even the help is insufficient. AA is presented as effective but essentially pointless, basically just a way to brainwash oneself out of an addiction in order to lead a normal if largely stale life. Gately is the most hopeful representative of a recovering addict, but when he gets injured and questions his resistance to receiving painkillers, the reader has to wonder, what is the point? Why shouldn't he take the Demerol? Is cleaning shit out of bathrooms and being tortured by the inaccessibility of Joelle really better than his previous life? Wallace seems to want to believe that there is something worth recovering for but can't quite put his finger on it. He prizes sincerity and yet spends plenty of time hiding behind satire and caricature. Anyways, for a 1000-page novel, it was tough not to have any signs of hope to hang onto....more