On Reading Anthony Trollope — I

Image courtesy: douban.com
Image courtesy: douban.com

It gives me great pleasure to announce that I have finally finished reading Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers, the second instalment from his Barsetshire chronicles, which spans six novels.

The last time I wrote here about not being able to read the book at my usual fast speed was nearly two months ago. I took many breaks, reading other books, writing, watching films and some TV series. It has helped me a lot.

Having now finished the novel, I am happy I did not hurry myself to complete it as quick as possible. The novel had demanded my full attention. But I, for various reasons, could not give it the requisite focus back then. So I trudged along, slowly, imbibing every little detail about the novel’s setting, plot, themes, and characters in the average of 10 pages in each session. This has made a huge difference, going so slow and not worrying about it.

And it does not only apply to Trollope’s novel but extends to nearly all the books I have read in the last few months. I feel I understand a literary text with so much more clarity than I used to in school, college, or even university. Maybe it’s to do with my age and maturity level. Maybe it’s because I have made it clear enough to myself and to those around me that my life’s calling lies within the pages of a book, whether reading it or writing one myself. Whatever the reasons might be, I have understood that it is always a good idea to allow one to take breaks while reading a difficult novel and pacing yourself. In my case, alone, it has helped immensely. Maybe if I keep doing this, I could finally read James Joyce’s Ulysses, or even David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, or other books known as the most difficult works in English language.

Another thing I have started to do is keep a reading journal. For example, I have just started to read a collection of short stories by Guy de Maupassant. For this particular book I am going to chart my progress in a notebook reserved especially for this purpose and understand exactly how much time do I take to read a book of a certain length. I think doing this will enable me to streamline my reading process, and make it possible for me to determine what I read, how long does it take for me read something, and use it to improve not just my reading experience but expand my horizons by reading more diversely in the genres I already read, and extend to genres of science fiction, fantasy, YA, graphic novels, thrillers, crime fiction, even children’s literature.

In a forthcoming blog, I will be addressing the themes, characters, and Trollope’s methods of story-telling. So keep watching this space for more on Trollope and the Chronicles of Barsetshire.

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