Monday, October 25, 2004

An Unexpected Visitor

The rain this morning has driven a swift to roost on the window ledge just next to my cubicle. I had to balance precariously on a chair to see it (it's on the upper of two ledges) but it was there, perched and hunched up, waiting for the weather to break.

A nice companion for a Monday morning, both of us trying to weather out our respective storms. Judging by the skies though, his weather will break before mine does ... = )

In the meantime (as in, "not work-related matters") my current reading list (as in "books I've bought but have yet to finish reading") has expanded to include Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke, a novel whose initial attraction for both K and I was it's all-black cover. Yes, very superficial, I know, but in our defence, can I add that the antique/antiquated font on the cover was equally intriguing? No? Not a sufficient excuse? Err, OK - how about this: it's a novel about English magicians ...and has a bit about the Peninsular War (the Napoleonic wargames connection, see) ... and has nice drawings inside. It also comes in an all-white cover, though I have yet to determine any substantial difference in content between the two. And it's thick - massively so.

I'm taking this book slowly, since I'm still ploughing through the Alexander book, and also since I'm taking it as an opportunity to delve into yet another new area of research for me - English traditions of magic. I still halfway through Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter (sample chapter here) which draws deeply from folklore and traditional beliefs about Faerie and such, and I've always been fascinated with the Elizabethan mathematician/magician/astronomer/astrologer (these Renaissance men just couldn't keep their interests segregated) John Dee , who has his own appreciation society, it seems. I like their little "resume" of him - in addition to being
"the first to apply Euclidean geometry to navigation; built the instruments to
apply Euclid; trained the first great navigators; developed the maps; charted
the Northeast and Northwest Passages",

he also apparently
"Put a hex on the Spanish Armada which is why there was bad weather and
England won."

Nice breadth of work experience, eh? = ) Which also nicely brings us back to the weather, which is what we began this post with, and which signals that I should get back to work.

2 comments:

Tym said...

Salon (subscription required) described Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell as "Harry Potter meets Jane Austen". I confess to being intrigued myself; maybe it'll be in next month's book purchases. So you opted for the black cover, eh?

wahj said...

There was nought but the black cover in hardback, which (given the size of the book) was my preference.

If you follow the link to the author's website, she discusses - well, dismisses - the "harry potter" claim, and I have to agree: whoever made that harry potter comparison was making the most tenuous of links, along the lines of "english author, female, book deals with magic, hey presto! harry potter comparison".