I’ve not thought of myself as particularly insular where history, geography and politics are concerned but I have been aware that for some years the literature I’ve tended to gravitate towards has been firmly Anglocentric, with occasional forays in the direction of North America.
There are many reasons for this sad state of affairs but no excuses — all I can say is that it’s particularly shameful to me that a childhood growing up in what was then called the Far East, plus a subsequent sprinkling of study in some of the so-called Romance languages of Europe, hasn’t led to a broader familiarity with world literature.
So . . . Reading All Around the World. I’m not actually doing this challenge, but a recent-ish post by Lory caught my eye and I thought I’d check where, bookwise, I’ve already travelled in this year of grace, two-thirds of the way through twenty-twenty, with 52 titles under my belt.
Not far, it turns out.
Finland (Tove Jansson), Austria (Stefan Zweig), Persia (Omar Khayaam), Ireland (Oscar Wilde) and Poland (Andrzej Sapkowski), possibly Malaysia (Zen Cho), represent the nations of my 2020 authors; and my latest review, of Robertson Davies’ Tempest-Tost, also had me visiting Canada.
Of course, courtesy of UK/US writers I’ve also travelled to Iraq (Agatha Christie), Turkey (Philip Pullman), and China (Charles C Finney). And there are all the imaginary places on this world and off-world — but we won’t count those!
And where have I to look forward to in the coming months? I’ve raced through (and now reviewed) John Le Carré’s A Legacy of Spies which took me from Brittany in France to Germany and what was Czechoslovakia. Then when I complete Melville’s Moby-Dick I will have — this I already know — travelled from the Atlantic to finish all at sea in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Anne Radcliffe’s A Sicilian Romance is, as the title implies, set in Sicily, and a reread of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto will allow me to step onto the mainland of Italy.
I also have my eyes on Afghanistan (via Norway) and China . . . but I really dislike committing too much to specific titles — I prefer the vagaries of personal tastes and whims to over-timetabling my reading. But maybe at year’s end I shall retrospectively outline my arbitrary literary itinerary.
And you? Where have you trotted — virtually — on this globe during, or indeed out of, lockdown, with your books as your passe-partout?