Thursday, June 08, 2006

Books XIII - The Man who would be King - The Wine-dark Sea

Books, more books and even more books.

Even if admittedly I haven't written about books in a while, the tales about my sudden return to the blissful land of practical philistineism (in which many decide to return during their life, despite having been given the chance of learning how to read) have been quite exaggerated.

Truth to be told, I have read quite a bit, despite the fact that most of my books, included the new and unread ones, have been in boxes for the better part of the last month. On the other hand, thanks to the wonderful services of the italian former telephone monopolist Telecom, which is currently having me on my third week without ADSL, time to read was there in abundance.

So, I first re-started and very quickly finished "Uther" by Jack Whyte, or rather finished the first of the books in which the italian editors decided to split the original book and that was named "The doors of Camelot", and I'm still looking for the second one, labelled, in an outburst of unthinkable imagination, "The Lady of Avalon". Not bad, have to say, probably better of the last two chapters of the main "Camulod's Chronicles" line of which this represents kind of a spin-off.

Then I ended the "Beggars Banquet", an anthology of tales by Ian Rankin and I must say I appreciated it quite a bit, always finding in them an interesting twist or two, a most notable thing in plots that rarely cover more than 25 pages.

After that, I definitely put aside that other anthology of Ray Bradbury's tales which had been lingering on my night table over the last weeks (maybe sci-fiction isn't the best pre-sleep reading?) and moved to an old love of mine: Kipling.

Now, Rudyard Kipling has been one of the pillars of my readings when I was even less than a teen. Kim and the Jungle Books, at that time, went together with Salgari's Sandokan's adventures and Verne's novels. While moving, I happened to come across three books. 2 anthologies of tales and one of poems, that had been laying in a second or third row of my little (shared with my brother, too) bookcase for the past 2 decades and, since they were among the first ones to reappear to the light from the boxes and that I had nothing else to read, I ended up giving them a distract glance.

Obviously, I found myself reading and reading, for a while losing myself again in the vivid pictures he makes of colonial India's characters and costumes, legends and deeds. Most notably, I read again the world famous "If" and was moved by the "Epitaphs of the War" which you can find here. But most than anything, I immensely enjoyed reading again "The Man who would be King", of which a wonderful movie was made with some extraordinary Sean Connery, Michael Caine.

There are so many ways to read and interpret this short tale of maybe 40 pages that I keep being amazed even now that, having read it again after maybe 10 years since last time, I keep finding new things.

One evening, as a new box was open, another two books that have kept me company more than once when I was little more than a kid came up again, so wear by the time and repeated use that are both hold together now by an elastic band. One was "The Treasure island" by Robert Louis Stevenson (and whoever read it and has not cheered for the fate of Long John Silver has simply no heart) and the other "Three Men on the Bummel" by Jerome K. Jerome (the less famous sequel of "Three Men on a Boat"). I went for the second as I definitely need something to raise my spirits, for several reasons we shall not mention here.

And finally, a few days ago, with my great surprise and happiness, I accidentally noticed on a shelf of my library of choice the last chapter of the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'brian: "The wine-dark sea".

I should better say the last translated book, as there are other 5 which have not been translated yet. Anyway, re-titled something like "Fire under the water", that is my current reading before going to sleep and, just as much as the previous seventeen books (yep, long series, isn't it?) I love that.

It's always something to go back to characters you have been in the company of for a long time, but that you have been forced to part with for more than a year, it's like meeting old friends again and discovering that despite the time passed, nothing has changed and the old habits and familiar jokes are still there to rely upon. Too bad it almost never lasts long, as books, like pleasant evenings, are almost always gone too soon.

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