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BOOK CORNER

12 May 2007

Welcome back to Roderick's li'l book corner. Last week there was a huge amount of reading done, thanks to two things: lack of The Internet at home because I just moved and the inability to play games on my Gamecube because I switched memory cards accidentally during the move. So as a result, I was able to read a lot in a single week. Here's a report.

I started out on Sunday with Harry Potter 6, which I hadn't read until then. I was kind of vexed, because the fifth book had been such a horribly paced, dragged-out, whiney tale with whiney characters and stubbornly refusing to contract phrases such as 'did not' and 'can not', which made it an almost illegible hodgepotch of poop. It had its good sides, but on the overall I feared number six to be of the same kind. Fortunately, the gajillionaire writer suddenly remembered how she used to write good books and as such Potter 6 was back on the right track. The pacing was much improved, the writing light-hearted and fast, the lead character wasn't an annoying pubescent recalcitrant anymore and it was at the same time a return to the lovely detective mysteries of the first three books and a push forward towards the final chapter with decidedly important events. I'm looking forward to the seventh and final book.

Then on Tuesday I started reading 'Making Movies', which is actually sort of an instruction manual touching on every aspect of making motion pictures. This was very necessary because I'm shooting my own in a month and it never hurts to get a reminder on how everything worked again. Not much to say about this book, except it was pleasantly writted with a sense of humour and a lot of good information.

The third book I read, from Thursday to Saturday, was In Praise of Folly from Erasmus. This was a short book and I should think most of you have heard of it. The book takes the form of a speech that the Roman goddes Folly gives and in it she satirizes the wealthy upper classes. Written at the start of the 16th century, it sparked the readers to ridicule their oppressors and people of the cloth. It managed to capture the zeitgeist, because it proved highly popular; a comedic satire; a founding stone of humanism. Reading it today, however, it has lost some of its splendour. First off, it's a very difficult read. Sentences trail off enormously and are written in a way we're simply not used to reading or speaking anymore, making it tough to bite through. Erasmus (or Folly, rather) doesn't go easy on us. Rereading sentences or whole paragraphs to make sense of them is a recurring evil; and lose your focus for half a second and you'll be able to make head nor tail of it anymore. A second blemish on the work is that what was shocking and witty then isn't so nowadays. Eloquent satire is commonplace in our culture and I should be very surprised if there are still people in the Western world that are brought up with an unquestioning obedience to authority. Ridiculing governments and religions and organisations happens all the time and has become a perfectly accepted part of our society. In this world, Erasmus has little effect anymore, though it'd be folly indeed to deny his part in kickstarting this tradition. As it is, however, In Praise of Folly is more of a classic piece of history to own than a genuinely inspiring book. But that, of course, is only because it was so very successful in its own day. Credit where credit's due.

Next on my to-read list: Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Goethe's Faust and Descartes' Discourse.

Roderick.