Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 10 Scintillatingly Boring Books!

The Guardian features a list of Lee Rourke's Top 10 Books on Boredom. it's actually quite an interesting list -- with a few titles I had always wanted to check out:

Mercier and Camier by Samuel Beckett

Beckett's boredom was an ugly boredom. Endlessly repeated. And through this ugliness, this grotesque repetition a strange, eerie comedy was born. Anything written by Beckett is wholly spellbinding to read and this lesser read masterpiece perfectly sums up the continuing theme of boredom throughout his oeuvre. Mercier and Camier is a short novel of chance meetings and missings - a theme repeated by Beckett almost mercilessly. The banal that he unearths and reuses in his fictions gives it a sense of post-history, a sense that his voice is appearing from elsewhere, something other.

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

For me this simply has to be the definitive book on boredom. I sometimes forget I am breathing when I find myself lost in passages from it, so engrossingly beautiful are they to read. Pessoa realised that beauty can be found in the everyday, the non-spaces of work and the naked moments we spend sitting in cafés looking out onto the street at passers-by. Those perfectly empty moments when we find ourselves waiting for absolutely nothing, until it's time to walk back to work or back to our homes for the evening. Pessoa's entire philosophical study of boredom is possibly the greatest poem ever written.

Hunger by Knut Hamsun

Hunger was first published in 1890 yet it could have been written yesterday so fresh and seductive is its voice. It is the story of a haughty, misanthropic writer who spends his days wandering the streets of his city looking for food, avoiding policemen and stalking women, or up in his decrepit room writing by candlelight in the vain hope that what he writes will one day make him rich and famous convinced as he is by his own genius. Contained within the pages of this intense first-person narrative are not only - arguably - the first germinations of Modernism, but some of the most startling passages on boredom I have ever read too.

4 comments:

jpderosnay said...

yeah, i've always been very interested in reading more our brother arian beckett's work. i've read a number of his plays and a few short stories and so would like to check this out...

(only three more days to go...! :) )

Bybee said...

I'm a big fan of Hunger...always encourage people to read it.

Dark Orpheus said...

JP So do I. I've read a bit of Beckett in school -- but I want to read more. There's this bleakness that actually very lyrical and romantic. :)

Bybee Yes, I've noticed. :)
Give me time to get to it. I promise to try.

jpderosnay said...

i agree... very lyrical indeed.