Tuesday 26 October 2010

What are you reading? Dr. Andrew Frayn

My current reading is focused on my works in progress which, broadly speaking, focus on ideas of mass culture and civilization, decline, and disenchantment.  A cheery bunch of topics, I know.  I've recently been wrestling with Niall Ferguson's The War of the World, which sees the twentieth century from 1904 to 1953 as a single, ongoing conflict.  It's magisterial in knowledge and scope, and by turns brilliant and infuriating.  That response, I think, would please Ferguson, a revisionist historian, and I'm sympathetic to his aims.  Gary Sheffield's Forgotten Victory also offers an alternative narrative of the First World War, and one which will surprise a number of you-- perhaps even most.

I'm in London currently, and my reading on the tube is Matei Calinescu's Five Faces of Modernity, a classic account of the development of European modernity and modernism which I've been meaning to get around to for some time.  In the British Library I'm reading Ford Madox Ford's The Marsden Case, a scarce novel which is a fascinating precursor to his magnum opus, the war tetralogy Parade's End; a Tom Stoppard adaptation of this series is being filmed for the BBC at the moment.

For fun I'm turning, when I have a moment, to Alasdair Gray's Old Men In Love.  Gray is a literary master-craftsman in the fullest sense; he writes wonderful, thought-provoking prose, and designs all of his books: illustrations, typesetting and all.  Poor Things and A History Maker are his most accessible, in my opinion, though Lanark: a Life in Four Books is his challenging classic.

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