The Count of Monte Cristo

(by Alexandre Dumas) A turgid but absorbing boys’- own revenge yarn.

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Clarissa

(by Samuel Richardson) (1748) The Varnished Culture mentions this merely to brag: longer than War and Peace (it’s the longest novel in English at approximately 984,870 words), this account of virtue chased and trashed is the novel’s version of continuous cricket: mad in detail, slow in execution, passionately related. Told in letters, very long letters, the correspondents spend what seems a year recalling a year but a crowded year. Take this book to a desert island; it will endure and also make a crackling blaze. Coleridge nailed Richardson’s “close, hot, day-dreamy continuity” and Priestley (in Literature and Western Man) commented:…

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The Cantos

(by Ezra Pound) The commonplace book of a madman, lines of breathtaking beauty (e.g. Canto IV, LXXIV, the closing fragments) jostle with crude, didactic ravings against usury and Jews. A pox on he who gave Pound an economics book! Or convinced him to attempt a poetic epic without structure, a theme or any cohesive idea at all. Still, it’s a lunatic mess well worth skimming.

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The Black Spider

(by Jeremias Gotthelf) This highly effective creepy morality tale would (and may) have made Poe crap his britches.  

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The Apes of God

(by Wyndham Lewis) The best (and bitchiest) book of the art demi monde ever written.  As T. S. Eliot said of this masterpiece, “It is so immense I have no words for it.”

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