I’m now in the middle of rereading Moby-Dick, which I last reread a little over a year ago. This third time around, I find things just click so beautifully with me. If we’re going to compare it with Ulysses, that other eccentric, quasi-encyclopedic literary tome that I’ve spent recent months poring over, the winner is now already obvious. Joyce’s may have a deeper grasp of the possibilities of English and literary form, and indeed played a valuable stepping-stone for me as a teenager, but Melville as a storyteller does just about everything I could want from an epic novel. Maybe I needed the experiences of the intervening year to make me into the sort of person who could be more attuned to Moby-Dick’s own brand of bizarre mysticism. I can see a lengthy post about it in the future.
In 2019 I revisited two other novels that I never got around to writing about: Franz Kafka’s The Castle and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. I previously read both of them during my high school years, and, looking back on it, these two more than any others seemed to set the agenda for my teenage literary ambitions. I often tried (and failed, terribly) to mimic the low-key, dreamlike qualities of The Castle and the magic realism of One Hundred Years. Anyway, it turns out that they still have the same sort of pull on me, perhaps more deeply. My teenage experiences with these sorts of texts were important for expanding my mind about what literature can do; with some more life experience they become more understandable. Though, given that it’s been some months, I don’t think I can come up with anything substantive to say about them at the moment. I’d have to reread them again. But I wouldn’t mind doing so, before the year is out.
At this point, I think the only seminal text from my adolescence that I haven’t gotten around to revisiting in the past decade is Don Quixote.