Saturday, July 1, 2017

Beach Reads and Shakespearean Synchronicity - NOVA this week

Observations from my weekly wanderings, usually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).

This past week, and part of the previous, I was on a much needed vacation. Nothing too exciting, which is exactly the kind of vacation I needed – just relaxing.

Lots of reading – but not just any ole reading – beach reading at Coquina Beach, Anna Marie Island, Florida as well as some pool reading. Like I said, not terribly exciting, but very relaxing.

I finished The Portrait of a Lady – and let me just say, YAY!!! The LAST I have to read of Henry James on this quest. This was the better than the other three I’d read (The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl), but I am still happy to be done with Henry James.

I also read The Monkey and The Roads Round Pisa from Isak Dinesen’s Seven Gothic Tales. Wow! Dinesen, nome de plume for Danish writer Karen Blixen, writes some freaky stuff – just a bit over my head at times. More to follow, I’ll post my thoughts on the entire book when I finish the last 3 tales.

And I also read Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. More than Gordon Lightfoot’s hauntingly beautiful ballad will tell you.

And started Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne.

To come to the second point in my my subject line – I experienced an odd bit of synchronicity. Synchronicity is always a bit odd, but this was even odder, since it was rather synchronous synchronicity. I’ll explain.

I recently read, for the first time, Shakespeare’s comedy The Tempest. Not much later I read Vanity Fair, and lo and behold one of the characters refers to Caliban (villain in The Tempest). I thought that was cool. I wouldn’t have caught the reference had I not just read The Tempest. Not long after reading Vanity Fair, during my beach reading one of the characters in The Portrait of a Lady also refers to Caliban. Weird.

Next, I’m beach reading The Roads Round Venice and the main character, who is from Denmark, the scene of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, makes a passing reference to Yorick (character from Hamlet - sort of - just his skull). Cools says I, another Shakespeare reference. But then, it got freaky when I started Tristram Shandy wherein there is a a Parson Yorick who Sterne asserts is descended from Shakespeare’s Yorick.

I’m not sure what any of this portends, but I am half expecting Evelyn Waugh and Robert Penn Warren to make allusions to Othello. I’ll keep you posted.

And in other news, my daughter took this picture in at Riverby Books which is an old, used, and rare bookstore in Old Towne Fredericksburg, Virginia. I’ve bought a few of my classic books from Riverby – and honestly, I think it would be more charming if it were haunted. How bad can a ghost be who haunts a bookstore?


  1. I would totally haunt a bookstore if I were a ghost. Finally, all the time in the world to read! (Once I figure out how to turn pages with my ghostly fingers, of course.)

  2. I love synchronicity. And there is something to be said for a “classical’ education. I know much of the Old and New Testament , but I would really like to be able to stop time and read the Romans and the Greeks, then Shakespeare, etc.

    I hope you like Tristam Shandy. It is supposed to be bonkers. I have it on my list

    1. I'm not really loving Tristram Shandy. I'll be done in a couple days.

  3. I love synchronicity like that too. Poor old Caliban has a rough time. He's sort of the poster boy of displaced people and the rough side of colonialism in a way. I was once involved in a performance of The Tempest, way back in high school.
    On another note, I'll be interested to see your thoughts on Tristram Shandy. I got the kindle version just recently, and whoa, it's twisty, all-over-the-place old ride at the moment. I'm not sure I'll go through with it.

    1. I never did any acting in H.S. or otherwise. I can imagine it would be fun and challenging to do Shakespeare. Tristram Shandy...not loving it.


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