Not Aspidistra-tastic

25 07 2009

Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell

Gordon Comstock loathes dull, middle-class respectability and worship of money. He gives up a ‘good job’ in advertising to work part-time in a bookshop, giving him more time to write. But he slides instead into a self-induced poverty that destroys his creativity and his spirit. Only Rosemary, ever-faithful Rosemary, has the strength to challenge his commitment to his chosen way of life.


The descriptions of the slide into poverty though are extensive and rather grim. Gordon himself is a really quite unappealing and irritating character – naive and often stubborn, he really isn’t a terribly attractive hero and his treatment of those close to him, especially Rosemary, is pretty shabby. Not a great read.

2 star


4 07 2009

Gautrek’s saga, translated by Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards


Splendid stuff as you would expect (or perhaps not). Outstanding passage in which Gautrek is born into a large but isolated family (as a result of an unexpected visit from King Gauti) the members of which respond to the most minor setback by throwing themselves, fatally, over the ‘family cliff’.

After that it wanders round the houses (across Scandinavia) a bit before an entertaining conclusion. Brief but good.

(Picture above shows one of the more unfortunate characters, Starkad, who, despite his talents, ends up despised by all.)

3 star

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