Tuesday, November 30, 2004

What to Re-Read, Part II

If I read it, I’m apt to re-read it. And though it seems poor hospitality to bore GS readers with the contents of my nightstand, I’ll mention some things I’ve re-read in the last couple of years.

Shakespeare: I’ve been noodling around in Antony and Cleopatra, which I love most for its portait of feminine wiles. Act One, Scene III, the queen sends her messenger to find Antony: "If you find him sad / Say I am dancing; If in mirth; report that I am sudden sick. . . ."

Irving Kristol’s essays, esp. The Autobiography of an Idea collection, though it doesn’t include the indispensable "When Virtue Lost her Loveliness." Irving (sorry but you’ll have to indulge me-few are the truly great individuals I get to call by their first name,) is in my opinion the most eloquent of the great anti-Communists. No other tapped so deeply into the great American essay tradition dating back to the Federalist papers.

I’ve been re-reading, with great pleasure, Florence King’s National Review columns for an eventual essay on the subject of her cruelty and wit, and I tentatively believe—meaning this was my opinion for a while and I wonder if it will survive the re-examination—that she’s the foremost conservative stylist of my lifetime.

Isaac Bashevis Singer’s folkloric stories hold up very, very well, so perfectly wrought are they. I’ve also re-read Enemies, A Love Story not that long ago. What a book! When I learned that Roger L. Simon had written the screenplay for the excellent movie version, I felt like sending him flowers.

A very partial list. In truth I find it very easy to name contemporary writers worth re-reading. Even poets and novelists-whom conservatives seem to loathe almost out of habit.

1 comment:

chilly willy said...

IB Singer is one of my most often re-read authors, too. His early novel (I believe it was serialized back in the 40s) 'The Certificate' is my favorite mellow afternoon novel, followed closely by 'The Penitent' and 'Shosha', all very much worth reading if you haven't already.

I've had 'Enemies' on my shelf unread for years, thanks for reminding me! That'll be next on my list.