Time’s been on my mind lately, but not on my side. Isn’t it ironic (in the Alanis Morissette sense) that I’m preoccupied with time travel and yet I always seem to be behind, desperately trying to catch up on everything?
For the uninitiated, Book to the Future Bookmarks is a fortnightly post that’s loaded with literary links – and it seemed appropriate that this fortnight’s links should all have something to do with time. As I’m short on time, I’ve taken a peek into my bookmarks folder and selected four of my favourite time-related links to share.
I read Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo for the first time when I started blogging. I was secretly hoping it’d be another Heart of Darkness – but, as much as I love Heart of Darkness, I’m glad I was wrong. Nostromo was something else entirely. I think it’s safe to say Conrad’s Nostromo has to be one of the most perfectly-constructed narratives I’ve encountered. The way Conrad structures his story is nothing short of exquisite – but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.
I’m talking (rambling, really) about Nostromo because one of the things that piqued my interest was the way Conrad writes about globalisation – in 1904.
Harvard history professor, Maya Jasanoff, is writing a book about Conrad and his major works, taking a look at the way in which the Polish-born author managed to write about so many of the issues that would later come to dominate the twentieth century. Here’s an article describing Jasanoff’s work in progress, which looks really promising. The article also mentions Jasanoff’s blog, where she documents the month she spent as a paid passenger aboard a container ship, researching the role cargo shipping still plays in modern globalisation.
Bloggers’ prerogative: on changing one’s mind
Moving right along, this blog post on new-to-me blog, Entomology of a Bookworm caught
my attention when I saw it pop up on Twitter: it’s about changing your mind. Which has been a subject I’ve been considering writing about for quite some time, but I haven’t been able to express it quite this well.
Sometimes it takes time, years even, to truly appreciate what a book was trying to tell you – however, when you write book reviews, your opinion is captured at one particular point in time. Eventually you can come to regret the opinion you expressed in your review. Time changes your mind.
I liked this post so much because there’s one particular book that I know I got completely wrong – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night.
However, that’s a post for another day.
Sense and Sensibility and Semicolons
Something for the statistically-minded: statistician Tyler Vigen has selected seven popular English novels, published between the early 1800s and the early 2000s, and examined the length of their sentences, the frequency of commas and question marks – that kind of thing – and compared the results in a series of graphs.
While you’ll find an average of 13.1 semicolons per 1000 words in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the first of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books contains only 1.7 semicolons per 1000 words. A fair comparison? Well, not really – but these statistics are still worth a look. Here’s Vigen’s original series of graphs, and here’s an analysis and interview on Business Insider Australia.
Rock Around the Literary Clock
Since 2011, the Guardian has been trying to find a literary quotation for every hour and every minute on the clock. It’s a project that echoes Christian Marclay’s film project, The Clock. Take a look at the times missing from the Guardian’s literary clock – maybe you’ve spotted a time that’s missing from the database?
I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for the times mentioned in books now I know about the Guardian’s project…
One more thing…
I forgot to share this in my last Bookmarks post. Mountain/Animal is a story/quiz written by Australia’s digital writer in residence for June, Jennifer Mills, and it’s just brilliant. It’s playful and clever and poetic, all at once. If you haven’t already, go and take the quiz at once.
Mills also posted an essay on Twitter yesterday on the subject of…time. I started writing this post on Sunday, so how’s that for synchronicity? Here it is, preserved in chronological order via Storify.
That’s all the time we have left for today’s session, I’m afraid. Bookmarks will be back in two weeks. Thanks for reading.
Note to subscribers: You’re not imagining things – I edited this post shortly after putting it online, completely removing one link and my discussion of it from this post. Turns out I hadn’t realised the article I was referring to was actually from 2011.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph – time really isn’t on my side at the moment…