Monday, June 4, 2007

The man has the day off today for, well, obscure reasons having to do with the flexibility of the Catholic religious calender and the politician's whims...he has had a bit of an adventurous day. As I posted earlier, one of the doors in the apartment froze closed. We solved that by removing the glass. Well, when he returned from dropping youngest off at school, he discovered that another door was frozen closed. Unfortunately this was the door from the front hall into the apartment. He could get into our bedroom at least. He went down to the property manager's office around the corner and a fustier - carpenter- came by...they had to climb from our bedroom balcony onto the kitchen balcony and then jimmy the kitchen door.
The two balconies...

The potential landing site. Fortunately no one fell....

Now we have one door without glass or a latch, and one that has been liberated from it's latch only. Progress is wonderful isn't it?

He decided to take the dog on a run with him. Now the man routinely runs 10 or 15 Km up into the mountains and down again. Dogalicious was one tired little pup by the time he got home. He made it all the way, but was lagging far behind on the run in, and has been sleeping ever since. He does get up and stagger stiffly from one spot to another though....

After the Atwood, I decided to go for some brain candy...Celia Brayfield's Heartswap...well. Brain candy is a bit generous. She lifted the plot first of all, although she may not even realise it, to be generous. We are reading Don Quixote for bedtime stories. We have an edition that has a brilliant translation by John Rutherford, who uses accessible language - read fairly modern - so it is much more interesting. Not so modern that it is silly, but enough that we can manage it without an undergraduate degree in Spanish History. I doubt it would be viewed as rigorous by some of the more arcane academics, but heck, it's a good story.

There is a section in it where Quixote, Sancho Panza and a group of cohorts are hanging out in an inn, reading one of the manuscripts that happen to be on hand. It is the story of a husband who has just married a beautiful, intelligent, and most important of all, virtuous wife, and he decides, stupidly, to test his wife's virtue by setting up his friend to try to seduce her. He succeeds, and they all die morose and predictable deaths, because such is the morality of the time, like the 1950's in the movie industry, that anyone who violates the cultural hegemony on acceptability must die or at the least lose out.

This book takes the same basic premise...two female friends are both engaged, and with the connivance of another woman decide to test out each other's fiance's loyalty by trying to seduce them. Predictable. But enter the 1990's morals, although the book was actually published in 2000, and not only will they succeed, they will discover by this fraudulence that they were actually better suited to the other....though I am not sure about one of the couples, one of the guys is such a smear of froggish toe-jam that I am not sure he is going to go anywhere but D O W N with all the readers cheering.

While the book is not exactly brilliant, it is interesting to look at the two works as expressions of the cultural norms and values...clearly in the latter, the end justifies the means, and indeed sleazy con-inspired back-handed trickery can be the route to happiness. Weird. It is also not a world I can identify with. Maybe there are folks like these characters out there, but I don't know them, nor do I wish to. Interestingly, all of them have MBA's...the women that is. The men are more varied.

What I wouldn't give for the Toronto Public Library....The only drag with this lifestyle we've been living for the last four years, no access to good choice in reading. By the same token, I have read books that I otherwise never would have. Although that has frankly not always been a great thing. Hilary Clinton's biography comes to mind as a case in point here, although there were elements of it that were interesting from a cultural perspective. I also waded through Moby Dick. Now there is a great story in desperate need of some good editing. The man can say the same thing over and over in six successive paragraphs.


Beth said...

So the door into your apartment isn't working? Anyone can get in? You don't sound worried. Are robberies not a problem there?
Interesting contrast you made between those two books and the different morality of those times.

Helen said...

The basic plot has been around awhile. Chaucer used it in (I think) the Miller's tale, and Mozart used it in Cosi fan tutte as well - the old ones are the good ones it seems

Sea Dogs said...

A very stuffy old guy told us a joke in China. Three friends die at the same time and report to Heaven. God asks the first one "Did you ever cheat on your wife?" No says the man I was pure and good. OK says God, you get a Mercedes to drive around heaven.
The second guy is asked the same question " Well once or twice I did cheat a little bit" OK You get a volkswagen.
The third guy admits to being a serial rat who cheated all the time and he gets a ten year old Travbant. They head off and run across the first guy in his Mercedes crying loudly.
Why are you unhappy? they ask. " (sob) I just saw my wife driving a Vespa"

oreneta said...

Beth: The front door works, it's the door from the hall into the living room, and the living room into the kitchen area.

Helen: There do seem to be only so many we were reading it in Cervantes, we commented that it was convoluted enough to be something that Shakespear wrote.

Sea Dog: Nice to hear from the way


Read it to the man and he had a good giggle too...