Monday, April 4, 2011

Wheaton -- Day One

Wheaton, Day One

So, today (M.4/3) I started back in to working on THE DARK TOWER, picking up where I left off two visits ago, in Sept. 2009. I'd hoped to read the new essay about that work's composition by Jonathan Himes said to be in the new MYTHLORE, but my copy hadn't arrived before I left, nor has the Wade's yet come in. ((I'm also looking forward to the new volume of VII, to which I'm a contributor; shd be out soon.)) In any case, working closely w. the manuscript like this, I'm struck more than ever by how heavily influenced by David Lindsay's A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS the whole Stingerman concept is. I also think I've located the probable source for CSL's "Jerkies", but since it's a work I only know about second-hand I'll hold off on that one till I've had a chance to read the original for myself and do a comparison.

Also began reading Dorothy L. Sayer's Wilkie Collins in intervals when my eyes start to give out from too much staring at cross-outs in a photocopy of a rough draft Mss (DT) of a handwriting I don't usually work with (CSL's). I'd thought this was unpublished, but just before arriving learned that a small press limited edition had come out back in 1977. Not something I'd want to spend over a hundred dollars to read (the cheapest edition for sale online being $115; they go from there), but a nice break from the main business at hand.

Other reading, outside the research, includes two Fr. Brown books I brought with me for light reading, each with ten stories -- one of these I find I bought back in 1984 for 25 cents, probably at Spectrum, a seedy little bookstore I used to haunt nr the corner of 21st & Wells in Milwaukee; bought a lot of the Adult Fantasy Series books there (the owner, I discovered, had been a friend of Hannes Bok). Chesterton is one of those people I've tried to like but never been able to manage; having read the big Penguin collection of all the Fr. Brown stories years ago, thought I'd give them another try in smaller doses. Besides, wanted to join in a Wheaton College Book Discussion Group meeting at the Wade during lunchtime on Tuesday, if poss. -- though do have to say that given that their last book was Doyle's HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and their next book is THE NINE TAILORS, I did not get the luck of the draw.

On the plus side, one of the stories I read was the only Fr. Brown story I'd liked last time I read them, wh. still stands out as far better than the rest this time through as well (I think it's called "The Sign of the Broken Sword"). Most, however, are v. bad indeed: an example of an idea (Fr. Brown himself) that's far better than the actual execution -- which indeed cd stand as a summary for pretty much the whole of Chesterton's career, unless there are some gems out there I've missed.

Other reading: finished Bk I of FINGAL, which I managed to get through by reading it aloud and ignoring all the footnotes. Also read a little Sayers (more on this later) and some of THE TURN OF THE SCREW, which I'm revisiting after many years, on the Kindle.

Finally, had an enjoyable evening talking Tolkien & colonial history (give or take, ranging from The French & Indian War thr. the Revolution to the War of 1812, w. some side glances to '1491' and Jamestown and the Bay Colony) w. Darrell Martin, who is exceptionally well-informed on both topics.

Though I do have one question I've yet to get an answer to:


Wheaton College is famous for its mastadon skeleton, which has always been prominently mounted in a great bay window of the science building. No longer. Don't know if it's been taken down for refurbishing or simply moved elsewhere, but I v. much feel its absence every time I walk by that empty window.



Wayne and Christina said...

The Perry Mastodon is in the new science center at Wheaton: see, with a further link to a slideshow of the move from Armerding Hall.


John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Wayne. Hi Christina.
Yes, I found out yesterday (through the simple expedient of asking) that it's been moved to the new science center. Thanks for the link, which I'll enjoy watching when I'm somewhere with (a) a reliable internet connection (unlike the place I'm staying) and (b) less time-pressure (unlike here in the Wade).