Diary of a Nobody-Part 2

A long time ago, back in the day when I was more radical than I am now, a very important person high up in the political organisation I used to be in called Julie gave me one of the best pieces of advice: concentrate well on one book at a time. I had a habit of moving on to one book while finishing another, and I still have this bad habit.

As the great Russian Marxist Leon Trotsky once said, “It is better to read one book and read it well; it is better to master a little bit at a time and master it thoroughly. Only in this way will your powers of mental comprehension extend themselves naturally. Thought will gradually gain confidence in itself and grow more productive. With these preliminaries in mind, it will not be difficult to rationally allot your time. Then, the transition from one pursuit to another will be to a certain extent pleasurable.”[1]

I raise this issue because I am currently reading two books, although one is read inside the house and the other is on my travels. Both books are biographies of the writer. Phillip Roth, so it counts as reading one book, albeit with nearly 1500 pages. My outdoor read is Ira Nadel- Philip Roth, A Counterlife. So far, I have only read the introduction, but it seems to be a character assassination of Roth.

 The whole introduction concentrates on why Roth was an angry man and how it dominated his worldview. Nadel’s attempted use of psychoanalysis to unlock the secrets of Roth’s behaviour has grown tiresome after only twenty pages. Nadel appears to join a long line of people who seem to object to Roth’s worldview. I believe that Roth wrote many extremely important books and understood the world, which is worth reading. As Roth said, “At any rate, all I can do with my story is tell it. And tell it. And tell it.”– My Life as a Man.

Although the Christopher Hill Conference in London is not until November, I decided to buy the latest copy of The World Turned Upside Down. Given that I read it long ago, it might be time to review it for my website. CT has kindly sent me two articles which are pertinent to the conference. Email me if you want copies. Ann Talbot wrote a superb obituary of Hill. It would be nice to expand on some of her points and publish them before the conference. I doubt if I sent it to the conference, they would accept an orthodox Marxist position on Hill, so I will not bother to send it.  [2]

Further book purchases include The Chaos Machine by Max Fisher, which I will review later. The books I intend to review are getting longer, so please chip in if anyone has a little free time. Three books from Verso are Will and Testament-A Novel-by Vigdis Hjorth-Translated by Charlotte Barslund, Is Mother Dead-by Vigdis Hjorth, and last I Fear My Pain Interests You-A Novel-by Stephanie LaCava

[1] (A letter to the Kiev comrades. From Pravda, May 31, 1923. Translated for this volume from Collected Works, Vol. 2 1, by Marilyn Vogt. From: Problems of Every Day Life by Leon Trotsky.)

[2] “These the times … this the man”: an appraisal of historian Christopher HillAnn Talbot-https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2003/03/hill-m25.html

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