Reading and studying some of his poems for a class, I thought I didn't like Irving Layton. His poems are often beautiful, expressive, and interestingl...moreReading and studying some of his poems for a class, I thought I didn't like Irving Layton. His poems are often beautiful, expressive, and interestingly crafted, but what they suggest of his personality wasn't appealing to me and so I was about ready to strike him off my list of writers to get to know better. But then I went to an event celebrating the centenary of his birth, and heard a diverse group of people read a good variety of his poems, primarily from this volume. Somehow what I found to be brash and alienating when reading on my own and dissecting with an indifferent group of classmates became intensely engaging and evocative when read aloud by others. I still might find Layton's personality abrasive and frustrating, but I know now not to let that get in the way of exploring his poetry and am looking forward to a re-read - or rather, a first proper read through - of this collection. 13 March/12(less)
I think a large party of what makes this book still readable is the fascinatingly loathsome Bounderby. From almost his first appearance I was eager to...moreI think a large party of what makes this book still readable is the fascinatingly loathsome Bounderby. From almost his first appearance I was eager to see him earn his comeuppance, and that alone would have kept me reading. Along the way, though, I found empathy for Gradgrind senior, Louisa, Stephen and Rachel, and it’s the resolutions of their stories that ultimately provides emotional satisfaction. I found Louisa’s emotional rapprochement with her father moving and exquisite. I feel a bit let down by the summary ending, and I do rather wish that Stephen had a happier outcome, but these are minor complaints.
I personally needed some time to get into the book, but once I did it was very compelling reading. It was enjoyable throughout, with many delicious moments of satire (including pretty well all of Harthouse’s presence) expressed in Dickens’ remarkably neat turns of phrase.
I don’t know that I would've attempted this if I hadn't been assigned it for school, and I do think that some of the context and guidance I had from reading it for school was necessary for my enjoyment of the novel. I was assigned this once before, only two years ago, but that time I couldn't get past the first ten pages, because I just wasn't in the mood. That probably says more about me than about the text, but I mention it as a qualification that this may not be a particularly accessible read for someone picking it up out of the blue, without any framework of relevant expectations.(less)
I read this in the context of an undergraduate seminar course in Canadian literature, so my reading is necessarily coloured by the information and opi...moreI read this in the context of an undergraduate seminar course in Canadian literature, so my reading is necessarily coloured by the information and opinion picked up there. I don't think I would ever have found or attempted this book if not for the course, and I'm sure that without the basic background provided by my class work on Klein, I wouldn't have been able to make heads or tails of the novel. Having just enough understanding of the author's biography and of some basics of Judaism, though, I found this book engrossing, moving, and rewarding. Certain portions unsettled me, as I am not Jewish and was alienated by some of the narrator's enthusiasms; other parts unsettled me for their frank descriptions of true-to-life horrors. I'm inclined to look indulgently on Klein's wordplay and gleeful allusiveness, and to marvel at the novel's unusual structure, but I would guess that most readers would find these stylistic aspects somewhat annoying. I think it's a beautiful and worthy read, but it does make demands of, or perhaps better to say has expectations of, the reader, such that it is simply not a casual read.
Also, the edition I had was the 1994 M&S NCL edition, and it has a disruptive printing error in Gloss Dalid where one page is repeated and the subsequent page is ommitted. I saw from my classmates' editions that the newer version doesn't have this error, and I'd say it's worth tracking down an alternate copy to get a look at that missing page. You can tell what's happened without it, but the play-script reads much better with it!(less)
The rating is not for Klein's poems, but for the academic merit of the edition. I liked that Klein's works were presented with visual simplicity. I'm...moreThe rating is not for Klein's poems, but for the academic merit of the edition. I liked that Klein's works were presented with visual simplicity. I'm not generally a fan of endnotes because I tend to find them disruptive of reading, but this editorial choice for this particular volume does allow the reader to engage more directly with the poems. As an introduction to or sample of Klein's works, with its supplementary but not exhaustive notes, this edition is excellently assembled. (less)