The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A New Year has dawned...

Well, I'm back from in Toronto from Montreal, where I've spent the last 2.5 days. I did not get a chance to explore the city, but I like it very much. Fortunately, Ottawa (my new home) is only a 1.5 hour drive away, so that makes it easier should I ever choose to return.

My stay in Montreal was not very eventful, but I decided to share some of my more noteworthy experiences with you:

The hotel where I stayed (Hotel Mairitme Plaza, and btw, they gouged us, charging a buck for each local call!) was teeming with unbridled teenagers. I had an entire bottle of wine for myself on NY's eve (and somehow only got a slight buzz), but it is entertaining to see teenagers who simply don't know any better. As my room was right in front of the elevator, I had a front row seat to some hilarious shenanigans. For instance, I saw two guys (friends I presume) who could barely walk, and one casually pushed the other one to the ground. The latter didn't get up for a couple of minutes, and after he got up, they both hugged (I assume), then the other stumbled backwards into my door. The security guard I saw in the elevator told me people were running around naked on some floors (not mine though).

I decided to have a smoke, so I went outside just after midnite to enjoy one. A couple of young women, upon entering the hotel, asked me what I was doing there, to which I replied, "I'm having a cigarette." One of them then asked me (I'm not kidding) "is your name Early or Arly or something like that"?, to which I replied "no." I couldn't help but notice the similarity to my own name, though that could be a coincidence (then again, TedT has met people in NYC who claim to know me, and I haven't been there since I was 12).

As most of you know, I'm not crazy about Toronto, and it is not simply a matter of having lived here for many years: people in Montreal I spoke to were unanimous in their dislike for Toronto. Without being derisive, they say "I don't know how you live in Toronto."

Finally, a literary anecdote: I took some reading material with me on the long trip (12 hours total), and with me I had a collecion of stories by my favourite story writer, Leo Tolstoy, whom I haven't read in about 3.5 years. I reread "Death of Ivan Illych" and "Master and Man," the latter being my favourite, even though it is not his best known. I must say that after all these years, I still have not come across any other western literature that comes close. Tolstoy's (as well as Dostoevsky's) stories are very spiritual and powerful. As Woolf said, the Russian writers pierce the soul. English literature is especially lacking in this respect, but it reminds me of what Forester said (paraphrase): The English novel is not the greatest, but English poetry fears no one." Though he was not a novelist, the closest writer in English to Tolstoy is, I think, Wordsworth. His only problem was that he never knew when to stop writing, but he has some of the most powerful passages and sentiments in the language.

I will be reading his Prelude next term for a class on the long romantic poem, for which we will also read Shelley's Prometheus Unbound and Byron's Don Juan. What scares me about the Prelude is that, at about 6000 lines, it was intended to be a prelude to a much longer poem. Currently, I'm reading Milton's Paradise Regained, the often ignored sequel to his magisterial Paradise Lost. It must be said, however, that it comes nowhere close to its predecessor, though it has one or two interesting passages. Before my term begins next week, I must at least try to put a dent into Dryden's Conquest of Granada, a gigantic play in two parts. I think the play must have taken no less than a week to stage.

Happy New Year to everyone. Though it is an arbitrary, occidental number (what about Chinese and Hebrew New Year?), it gives one perspective as well as a clean slate, more or less.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi arby

you are doing very well. we miss you at bible study. please come back.

talin

11:24 AM  
Blogger Pious Labours said...

Sorry, I don't know what you're talking about. Please don't harrass me.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your response definitely gives one perspective as well as a clean slate, more or less

10:08 AM  

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