In a Beethoven mood

I see it’s almost been a week since I’ve posted here. I have been spending my time reading, studying and playing music. Yesterday and today, I was a in a Beethoven mood.

I have been finishing books. I won’t bore you with all the books I have finished this week. I will say I finished a biography of T. S. Eliot and am almost done with a second biography of him I was reading at the same time.

I mention Eliot because the biographer said that he was fond of listening to Beethoven’s String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132. And that it was this music he had in mind when he was writing Four Quartets. So I began listening to that wonderful string quartet (and some other ones). It wasn’t too long before I wanted my hands on some Beethoven, so yesterday I read through two complete sonatas. Today I have played a couple movements of another sonata.

Eileen and I are thinking a lot about our upcoming trip to China. I have been thinking about what books I want to read on the flight. I have found that it is a very good time to read. It’s fun to think about this and peruse my library for books that might be possibilities. I am thinking of some light reading like P.G. Wodehouse and Arthur C. Clarke and some heavier stuff like a new translation of Kafka’s The Trial that has been sitting on my shelves. Also Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie.

Politics & Prose Bookstore has released a video of an appearance by Rushdie. In it, he looks to me like he is getting a bit tired of talking about Quichotte. But it did remind me how much I enjoy his books and that Shalimar is one of many sitting on my shelves waiting for the mood to hit me to read them.

I have been doing a lot of thinking and reading about Dante. In the video of Rushdie, he comments that when he starts enjoy a book he slows down. I have found myself doing that with Dante. I am beginning to savor his work. And though I look forward to re-reading the entire Divine Comedy in a more user friendly translation and edition, I continue to enjoy the beautiful little books I bought through the mail. I’m on canto XI of Paradiso.

I got the biggest kick out of reading Juan Luis Borges’ article on Dante in The Poets’ Dante. Borges talks about the first time he read Dante and then describes purchasing exactly the edition I am now reading. He talks about the long slow bus trips from the north side of Buenos Aires to the library in town where he was working. It was during these trips that he read the entire work in the version I now have.

In another essay in this collection, James Merrill blew my mind by pointing out how the terza rima construction (ABA BCB and so on) was a miniature mirror of the larger 3 volume structure of the work. Wow.

My daughter Elizabeth suggested that we install a VPN while we are still in the USA. I worked on that a bit today. I have it functioning on this laptop and Eileen got it working on her phone. But it’s not working right on my tablet or my phone. I have a message into the support team of my VPN.

I’m getting antsy to get back to my reading and playing music. Time to go.


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