I just finished Roberto Bolano’s 2666, his 800+ page epic undertaking, published after his death. (I also finished it the day after it was due at the library-no mean feat, especially given my late fee track record!)
This weekend I read Still Life, by A.S. Byatt, the second book in a series. She’s the author of Posession, for which I believe she received the Booker prize and, perhaps more importantly, inspired a movie with Gwyneth Paltrow.
The book tells a story of a family in Britain in the middle of the 20th century. All the characters are frightfully well-read, and seek out words and ways of understanding the world. They all take for granted a familiarity with a syllabus of British classics. I, however, loved it. It is rich and absorbing, and made me want more than ever to go back to school and study English.
I majored in English and history at school, and I never thought that it was practical to pursue graduate studies in English. Now, one year post graduation and deeply mired in corporate cubicle land, I miss and even crave that stimulation. In Byatt’s world, there is no art for art’s sake. The merits of Eliot, Beckett, and the works of her fictional characters are debated, but they are necessary. And I guess what I miss most of all is the belief that the written word is of the utmost importance, and can drive/mold peoples’ lives.
So this weekend I started looking at graduate programs. I still can’t convince myself to get an MA (or a Ph.D!) in English, but I want–and I think need–to get back to school.