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Dear Friends and readers,

Still struggling to turn 24 tapes into 48 MPS of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding read aloud by David Case.  In a way my heartache has turned more pragmatically into a headache as I try to retrieve the beautiful performances on my tapes and make them into MP3s and then CDs.   On this more in the comments.  But I did experience the loss as a real grief to me for life is so short and time spent in a car so a-c-h-i-n-g-l-y lost.  And these readings cheer me the way some costume dramas movies do. They help keep depression at bay.   Yesterday I spent four hours in my car so yes:

I had a personal tragedy three days ago now.  My tape deck in my car died.  The rewinder went. Don't laugh.  When it happened I remembered Johnson's lines from his "Vanity of Human Wishes::

Year chases Year, Decay pursues Decay,
Still drops some Joy from with'ring Life away...
                ---Samuel Johnson

Friends, body parts, things we treasure, cherished objects, memories gone sour or which just hurt because they were of joy (remember Dante on the nadir of memory -- picked up by Byron and then echoed by Ausetn in her Persuasion) from recent corrosion.

This is or was my third car tape deck.  It's the second in my present car: when the first gave out, a man then running a store dedicated to car audio systems (out of business now) replaced my tape deck with a then snazzy combination deal which included radio and CD player.

It has given such pleasure for years; added books upon books to my experience. Made driving daughters to middle class type activities and clubs for years on end endurable, waiting outside for them endurable.  I was not driven wild by long hours in traffic jams. 

Over the past couple of years I listened to all of Paul Scott's Raj Quartet. This fall I listened to Philip Madoc read aloud Dr Zhivago.  This spring I've been regaling myself with Henry Fielding's Tom Jones as read by David Case.  I was half-way through my box of Tom Jones tapes; on Tape 12 of 24.  I admit that I could have bought it in CDS with a superb reader from the cover-to-cover company. But that was $160!!  the tapes cost $16 with postage partly because these tape sets are almost being given away now.  Alas, as I reported to ECW (where I've been posting about this) I shall have to go yet much slower on Tom Jones or not proceed at a visibly there experience at all. 

About ten years ago I owned no books on tape (much less CDs) at all. Then the rental companies stopped making good books to read and turned to trash, today's pop hits.  I suppose the small amount of people who rented the better books didn't make enough profit for the new efficiency experts or the bigger corporation that bought them out. They sold off all their stocks of superbly read great books. I bought only a couple for the price was high.  Those who bought were playing into the hands of the very people destroying the company's stock of good things.

But over ten years I have collected and keep a small bookcase of books-on-tape -- with a very few books on CD.  What began to happen was Amazon began to sell books read aloud: they sold the used books-on-tape that the companies had not managed to sell, and they sold new readings on CD. Some of these are digitalized versions of the older readings on tape -- witha very few new ones on tape (! -- Flo Gibson) threaded in. 

Nevertheless, no one makes tape decks any more. So Jim (realizing how I felt yesterday about the whole thing) has bought a machine (from Amazon) which claims to turn tapes into MP3s and then one "burns" them into CDs.  A lot of trouble.  We'll try it.  I'm not sure we have to do it in real time the way I once (when young) turned my daughters' long-playing records of sesame street songs into tapes, and my younger daughter (Isabel) turned these tapes into MP3s and a few CDs. She has offered to turn my Tom Jones tapes (the second part) into MP3s and CDs if nothing else works. She has some set up where she has a tape deck plugged into her computer which has software which does this.  (She knows something of how to cope with computers that her mother does not at all.)

The alternative is spend $200 to $400 for someone to send the inset audio stuff in the car away to Syracuse where there are people who will try to fix it.  Now I know from experience tape decks are delicate -- as our CD players and had the experience more than once of thinking my local car audio man had fixed the tape deck or radio when he had not so had to return the next day.  He didn't overcharge me by the way; and sometimes he'd fiddle with the thing and it'd work and there'd be no charge.

I was very sad yesterday:  other stuff too caused this intensity of feeling but this is not the place I can write about this other level of private experience.

So what solutions have I uncovered?  I do have a fancy stereo-tape-deck and record player set (very lovely kind of long playing record stereo hardly ever used) in the front room, bought in the later 1980s just before the digital revolution. I did listen a little to Tom Jones around 11 at night last night when normally I give over reading or turn to a movie or come onto the Net and blog sometimes.

I can play the tapes there at least, but the idea was to have something in my car. That was and is still the point.

I have a few unabridged books on CDs to start with.  Four I've listened to and loved and could re-listen, especially one by David Case and Donada Peters doing The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. His burr-accented voice for Gilbert Markheim is soft and so beautiful; a different voice from him than I've ever heard before.  Case is a kind of presence in my life reading so many books to me.  This past fall I listened to an eloquently moving reading of Pasternak's Dr Zhivago by Philip Madoc.  I could hear it again.

Paradoxically or funnily enough the first CD set I'll try is one I've not yet listened to because it skips a bit (CDs are no panacea to listen to; in some ways tapes are better) is a new Cover-to-Cover of Sarah Badel (she played Lizzie Eustace in the 1970s Pallisers films) reading Austen's Sense and Sensibility!

One of my favorite books, one I can't say I don't know.  But it fills the air as I drive and keeps my mind absorbed very well.  So this is indeed a reverie under the sign of Austen and her beloved Johnson too: Listening to intelligent imaginatively great books read aloud beautifully has been an important solace for my existence since about 1987 when I first started to rent tapes. Like Johnson -- who I quoted -- I have this hunger of the imagination, a need to absorb my mind, to fill it, to keep much at bay.

Yes I realize people are dying by the thousands in Africa, and my tax money is going to pay to keep yet more people continually and permanently miserable elsewhere in the globe, but my perch of meaningless has been assuaged while in my car (where I meet another wasteland before me) by listening to books. Chacun a son gout. I can of course now buy CDs, but they cost much more than the old tapes to buy and tapes or CDs to rent, and as I value those I have I am seeing what I can do to retrieve them.


Journalizing on 4/6/10, see last comment



( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 27th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)
From Diana B:

"I actually know what you mean about tape deck - obsolescence comes too soon now, in technology. We still just have an 'old-fashioned' VCR! What do you do with all the tapes when you no longer use your VCR? It's a mess and a problem. D."
Apr. 27th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Noooo.... don't have it fixed. So not worth it. You're better off getting a cheap boom box with a cassette player. You might be able to find them at Walmart still, or perhaps at a garage sale. You should, eventually, go with some kind of .mp3 player and covert both your cassettes and CDs to a digital format.
Apr. 27th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
tape playing
If the old player has an input jack, you might be able to plug a walkman or other tape player into it. Otherwise look for a new one that has an audio input jack.
Then you have to find a portable tape player, but that might be easier and cheaper than the repairs. I still see them in second hand stores.
I have the impression cds and their players are on their way out, with people moving to mp3 players and iPods. With some effort you may be able to transfer those tapes to mp3s.
Jim Morgan
Apr. 28th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
Tape Deck
I am also a listener of books when driving. When I had a car without a tape deck, I bought a radio with a tape deck and kept it on the seat beside me. Of course, those kind of radios and tape players were easy to find then, but you might locate them through e-Bay and Amazon, although I did see one in a store not long ago. It was a radio, tape player, and CD player, and I should have bought it. I found a VCR tape rewinder on Amazon. Call me paranoid, but I bought two since they may disappear, and I still have lots of VCR tapes.
Apr. 28th, 2010 05:01 am (UTC)
thank you
Jim Morgan thank you and the two anonymous people. Jim and I have found 3 old radio, tape-player machine up in our attic. One has no plug and nothing to hold batteries by; another has the battery holder and tomorrow I will buy C batteries for it. A third is in good condition and has a plug but no wall for holding batteries. Jim is going to try to buy a converter so I can plug this third into the lighter in my car.

In the meantime I'll try the battery one by Thursday I hope. The tapes are so much cheaper than the new CDs but I probably will not buy any more. We are waiting for the machine to come which is said to allow us to convert tapes to CDs.

On MP3s and iPods, it's all so new to me. I'm not good at adjusting to new technology, but Jim says we could have a new audio installation which would allow MP3s and iPods. It would cost.

Apr. 28th, 2010 07:10 am (UTC)
MP3 or
I'm afraid it's time to go MP3. It's the only way to keep those wonderful sounds. Why not read the book yourself, recording it and downloading it to your new MP3 player. What a fantastic way to indulge in your favourite story. Or ask a friend who loves the story too to record it for you. What fun you'll have.

Apr. 28th, 2010 10:56 am (UTC)
I'm driving a car!
Dear Carol,

I guess you have a lot of time. Reading a book aloud well is no trivial task. David Case spent months studying his author and practicing his books. He wasn't paid for nothing. And find a friend to do it for me. What dream world is this?

You've missed the point about time. I'm looking not to be bored, irritated, frustrated while in my car. I can't read on my own our of my own mind while driving. I'm looking to listen to books while I'm driving. Life is short and I have to spend too much precious time in my car. Since it is my private space most of the time I've turned a necessity into a valuable experience I cherish.

As to MP3s and iPods, right now my equipment in my car doesn't accept them. I drive a 1993 Chevy Cavalier because I don't want to spend the money (because I don't have it) for a car with this equipment. I'd have to buy a used cars; used cars come out on the market because they don't work very well. My Chevy Cavalier has done me great service since 1993 and until now I've been able to get its audio equipment to work or find a substitute. I'm told that I can buy a new audio system and have it installed in this car but I'm not sure how much that will cost.

Plus I have a small bookcase of precious tapes I don't want to throw out because the spirit behind the mind who read them is to be treasred, deeply humane enrichening readings.

Ellen Moody

Edited at 2010-04-28 12:12 pm (UTC)
Apr. 28th, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
Useful explicit instructions
Dear Ellen,

There are two good solutions:
1) Connect the line in jacks on your computer to your home tape player's line out jacks. You may need a Y-jack because most computers only have one line-in (microphone). If you don't have a home tape player, borrow one, but be sure to use a good (console) model, not the little portable units because the sound will not be good.
If you don't already have .WAV software on your computer, download one of the free streaming programs from the web. Audacity.exe is the program I use.
Open the software program on your computer, and start the tape player. You will be streaming the sound into your computer. Repeat for each tape. Save the recordings on your hard drive as .wav files.
Using the CD-Write program on your computer (Roxio, Nero, etc.) record the tape files onto CDs. You may have to fiddle with the settings on your CD-Write program but all of the new programs have settings to record .wav files.
If you do not have a CD-Write drive on your computer, buy one and have your computer wizard/guru install it. These drives are not expensive and will save you infinite grief, time, and energy. While you're upgrading, buy a drive that will also write DVDs, not just CDs. You may never want to record a full movie, but the DVDs hold much more information than CDs and are useful for that reason.

2) Upgrade your computer to include a tape deck. Mine is called PlusDeck 2. Your computer wizard will install it.
Insert the tape and record it to your computer's hard drive using the software that comes with the drive.
The tapes record in real time, so plan your recording session when you will available to switch tapes as each one is recorded. Don't try to speed up the recording process because the sound will be distorted.
When all of the tapes have been recorded, you can listen to them on your computer, or record them to CDs following the directions above.

Most new car radios do not include tape decks any more. These have been replaced with CD drives--either for one CD at a time, or in a large CD cassette of 6 or even 12 CDs. These can be added as retro-fits to your car's audio system. The external cassettes are wired into your car radio and speakers and the cassette itself is usually mounted in the trunk. Any good car audio shop can install it for you.

Happy listening!

Apr. 28th, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Dear Gloria,

This is very kind of you to take the time to send explicit instructions. I'm probably not capable of following them myself so am sending them on to my husband and we will try to follow them together.

We have bought a machine to convert the tapes to CDs and he is getting a converter to be able to plug in an old boombox in my car which plays tapes.

I've called shops and it's hard to find a "good" one as you say. Very high prices and they want to take 2 weeks over it and then no guarantee. They offer to "fix" the tape deck.

I could spend money and replace my audio system with a modern one for MP3s as well as an iPods, but part of the issue is (as ever) money.

I value the tapes themselves as works of art in their own right -- as readings or performances of books.

I look forward to meeting again at our next EC/ASECS. My husband who loves music always enjoys your panels.

Apr. 29th, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
converter arrived!
We now have a machine which will convert tapes to MP3s and then MP3s to CDs which I then can put in my car and listen to. Jim has to attach it to my laptop; itself no trivial task.

When he's done that, it'll be very time-consuming if I do this as I have to have the tape running in real time while I copy it and I can't tell how long each tape is while CDs are 74 minutes each. There is an expensive solution: have installed in my ancient car a modern audio system with iPod jack and then one buys a machine which plugs in and you can run tapes on that machine. If Jim were making what he did when he quit/retired, I might be tempted, only that the car is so old and really could go any time or itself require huge amounts to keep it going. Anyway we are at the point where Jim will install a machine near my computer and then next step is to try to take a tape and make it into an MP3.

We bought an adaptor too for the car. It will permit us to plug in the old boomboxes to a lighter in my car so maybe I will after all be able to play the tapes in my car. I can play them here at home -- where I have a beautiful barely used tape player. But it's the car I use them for. I've just gotten back from an hour's driving (bank, shop) and this afternoon I have another hour (Isabel doesn't drive and today she needs to go somewhere where's there literally no public transportation).


Edited at 2010-04-29 03:13 pm (UTC)
May. 1st, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
It is indeed awkward and time-consuming to convert tapes into MP3s, never mind the second step of MP3s into CDs. When I'm on the second side of the tape, the tape seems to give out winding half-way through and I end up with 4 MP3s per tape (1 for the first side and as many as 3 for the second).

I'm now hoping the adaptor Jim has purchased on Amazon will indeed enable me to listen to the tapes by bringing in an old boombox into my car ...

I believe I have on tape more than 11 novels by Trollope, 7 by Austen (including Lady Susan), two biographies of Austen, Gaskell's Wives and Daughters, Cousin Phillis, and North and South, Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Eliot's Middlemarch, Hardy's Return of the Native, all four of the Jewel in the Crown novels, an abridged version of the first half of the Aeneid read by Derek Jacobi, an abridged version of Gibbon's Decline and Fall (which I listened to here during a group read and discussion we actually had when there were people where to post about such things) to say nothing of a scattering of modern novels which I do value (Lahiri's Namesake, Shields's Unless, DuMaurier's Rebecca). All read by really fine trained actors (from Juliet Stevenson to Kenneth Branagh) or dramatic readers (Case, Donada Peters among the most famous and best). Some of the increase in what I own comes from the price of these tapes suddenly falling to zilch. Recent acquisitions include all of this Fielding's Tom Jones read by David Case for $16 (with postage); in CDs on cover-to-cover CDs it was $160 without postage; I recently got Forster's Passage to India, not a book I would have acquired except for its low price in tape form. And would not have found time to read unless when stuck in my car.


Edited at 2010-05-04 11:22 am (UTC)
May. 2nd, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
I do feel sorry about the tape player. We have a similar problem with our old technology. We have many, many tapes, but only an old boombox on which to play them. We replaced many of our tapes with CDs but why?

And now, of course, there's the whole download/iPod/CD burning culture that we know little about.

Listening to books on tape is so civilized. It's terrific that so many people here can help you solve the problem.
May. 2nd, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
What a shame, Ellen - I do hope it is possible to convert your tapes and that you don't lose them all. Sadly it seems as if so much technology has slipped out of date so quickly - videos, tapes, microfiche and probably a lot more which doesn't occur to me right away. It seems as if you have got a lot of advice which sounds very helpful, so I hope that Jim can sort it all out for you and that you can still listen to these great books on tape. Judy
May. 3rd, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
More frustration and sad news
Well, an adaptor arrived from Amazon, but when we tried it in the car, it didn't work. We plugged it into the lighter and then plugged the boombox into the adaptor. The adaptor did light up when I plugged into the lighter, but then nothing happened. No sound, no movement.

It's not the boombox as in the house when we plug it in to an outlet, the tapes begins to wind and we hear Case reading beautifully. I don't know if it's the adaptor or if the lighter in my 1993 Chevrolet doesn't work properly.

Anway the result is the only way I can listen to these tapes in my car is to turn them into MP3s, and then MP3s into CDs, a long and arduous process. My daughter tells me the CDs can have gaps where not everything is recorded.

I may carry on tranferring Tom Jones, as I've begun with it. I regret choosing it now as I have some shorter novels I could have got to the end of making MP3s with and then CDs, and then try to see what I've gotten. But I started this way and it's Tom Jones I've never listened to as yet.

I had been listening to Tom Jones read aloud by David Case -- which I was doing beyond the pleasure of it, in order to write a decent blog on the 1997 film adaptation. So, now in the meantime unless I decide to read Tom Jones in the evening this summer in lieu of the biography of DeSade (and then alongside some gothics and libertine novels) I have no time for it during the day.

To me this incident which is commonplace (on my blog lots of people have said how they have VHS tape cassettes, and audiotape cassettes they once treasured which are now useles to them) is an instance of planned obsolence. It makes me think of Willie Loman's comment on his fridge in The Death of a Salesman. Those who made and sold the now technologically "obsolete" equipment carry on making lots of money. I put "obsolete" in scare quotes because the equipment would work if the tape decks were still sold in cars and elsewhere. But they have been deliberately phased out.

The cruelty of capitalists never ceases.

Ellen Moody

Edited at 2010-05-03 12:44 pm (UTC)
May. 4th, 2010 11:24 am (UTC)
Wall hooks present difficulties
Diana wrote:

"Have you tried looking for a working model of your exact same tape deck on Craig's List or eBay? If it was a popular model, you can probably find one, and then you can keep all your tapes going a few years longer. Just a thought."

to which I replied:

"We now have a new plan. The thought of turning 24 tapes into at least 48 CDs (and more), since I would have to make each side of a tape a CD began to loom large as absurd -- and expensive and cumbersome. My husband has discovered a machine you can buy and have installed in the car for $70 altogether which will play a form of MP3 condensed in CDs, so Tom Jones in 24 tapes (2 sides each) can become something like 6 CDs of compressed MP3s. These are not transferred in real time either.

We did think of putting a new or old used tape deck in our car, but that too costs -- at least $200 to 400. Plus these things break; what you want is a new tape deck. (And thus again are up against the planned obsolence which deliberately stops making some machine to force the consumer into the more expensive or newer option to make more money for the capitalist.) And on the Net what you mostly see are offers of such equipment where you are expected to install it yourself. Jim and I are the types of people who have to make a plan to put up wall hooks. So no, not an option.

May. 4th, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
more planned obsolescence
Penny wrote:

"sorry you are having trouble with getting a tape deck.
unfortunately like floppy discs, it has become a dinosaur. I have on old boom box that has a tape deck that's how old it is because i don't think the new one(for the living room) has a tape deck. Neither of my omputers, the desktop, laptop have floppy disc abilities.
It is all apart of what is happening with technology. CDs hold way more information right now than tapes and so there is no demand. My cell has lots of features that came with it because again popular demand made it more economical for the company than to make black and white
no screen saver choices and so on. this one was free for renewing the contract."

I reply:

I've gotten lots of commiseration over my tape problems with lots of advice. Many people apparently have tried hard to keep their precious things and either managed it by transfer or just left them there useless -- people speak of walls of VHS cassettes. My little collection is not guarantuan and I'm getting the knack of turning tapes into MP3s. At a minimum I will be able to listen to my collection on my laptop -- which is battery operated and I can plug in on a train.

Thank you for the comments,
May. 6th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
final defeat
JIm and I have discovered our $115 machine which is said to enable us to turn audiotapes into MP3s has done no such thing. I thought I had taped up to 12 casettes both sides of Tom Jones and we discover the laptop had nothing in it where there was supposed to be audio. We have tried everything suggested, followed all instructions, troubleshooting and so on.

Nothing helps. This is an essential first step. I suggested to him he send the machine back to Amazon or wherever he got it as not working, but he says he can't.

So in two weeks I'll take this box, put it up on the attic, and next year throw it out.


P.S. I bought myself a copy of P&P on CDs, and discovered there that the Irene Sutton Cover-to-Cover has not been digitalized so went for Donada Peters. In the meantime, S&S being short, I've begun to relisten to my CDs of Tenant of Wildfell hall, beautifully done. Still it breaks up the day. I hated the suburbs when I first came here because of all the driving and really I've never accepted it. Who could?
May. 7th, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC)
Just heartbreaking
We have now located the quirk of what goes wrong -- Jim by dint of experimenting and me by going online to discover chat about this specific machine. What happens is there is a disconnect between the iTunes software and the EZ converter software (attached to said machine). When recording you may hear the tape's sounds, it appears on the face of the computer as recording, but when you finish and attempt to play back, depending on how your computer is set up, you either find nothing, not one sign on the computer of anything recorded, or you find the new MP3 listed but nothing underneath it, no sound when you click.

Jim says that the truth is it's technically difficult to make such a transfer, and one needs to understand how to do complicated things with software, complicated things this EZ converter is said to bypass.

It doesn't. Or we have not found someone to explain how to get beyond whatever glitch happens between itunes Software and EZ converter software.

I can't program anything we have. Jim does it all. The machine which was said to turn audiotapes into MP3s has defeated him though -- I found a site where people who bought it had exactly the same troubles happen. Jim says what we need to do is something very sophisticated and hard for me to do alone. What he likes to do you see is learn himself and then give me a set of rote instructions but aspparently here rote instructions are not good enough.

We do have a modest modern TV -- flat screen. We have a beautiful expensive audio system bought just before the digital revolution: a turn table for long playing records, a tape deck which plays beautifully and had room for the then new CDs, a stereo radio, to which Jim added a DVD player which he has not been able to figure out how to play on the TV :) Two VHS Casette players in the house, one for European ones which is incompatible with our new computers and one which is attacked to an older small TV and works still. It's in my room, Isabel has the same set up in her room only her Casette player no longer works right.

I am very sad this morning and my reaction to this is to dream of selling or putting into storage half our books, sell the house and move to NYC. We then sell on ebay the half in storage and begin life again in NYC. Maybe we'll do it when Izzy finished her MA in music.

May. 9th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Failure upon failure
Yesterday Jim attempted to use Audacity to make the EZ converter software and machine really turn the audiotapes into MP3s; after about 12 minutes of watching the machine appear to record the sound and listening to Case's voice, he tried the machine, and voila ... silence ...

I asked him to ask Isabel how she did it with her audacity and machine; he said her "set-up is different." I asked him, Could I read the instructions?" He said there are none.

It keeps me in mind of RLS's immortal words:

There is indeed one element in human destiny that not blindness itself can controvert. Whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed; failure is the fate allotted. Our business is to continue to fail in good spirits.
--Robert Louis Stevenson


Edited at 2010-05-09 02:21 pm (UTC)
May. 10th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
Mother's day activities
Well yesterday my mother's day gift was Jim and Isabel again working on Audacity. Together they got close to changing the tapes to MP3s; for the first time he succeeded in getting a tape recorded on the computer as a MP3; now the problem is we can't hear the voice if we want to to see how far we've gotten on the tape. But it appears we are getting there.

And when we went to our weekly movie, Izzy brought into my car her set of CDs of a splendid reading by Simon Vance of the third novel of Patrick O'Brian's famous Maturin series: H.M.S. Surprise. Real pleasure for both of us. Vance does Maturin's voice as a cross between a Scots and Irish brogue. Inimitable.

Does anyone read Patrick O'Brian novels here? Izzy and I loved Master and Commander, the womanless movie, yet very sexy, with Paul Bethany (a heart-throb for my daughter) and Russell Crowe. If so, we could talk about them ...

May. 11th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
Still working on it
We have returned to failure, or you might say Jim is a perfectionist. He does not want to give up until not only can I change tapes to MP3s, but I can control what's happening accurately -- that is when I want to, turn the sound on so I can see where I am in the recording. That he has not yet been able to encompass.

As a kind and sympathetic (in the sense of sharing my values) friend on this list said to me (offlist) over our trials and tribulations of trying to convert my collection of (to me precious, valued) audiotapes to MP3s onto my laptop (which them may be burned into CDs of various types), what they do is extend one's life. If you think of what's valuable in your life as your reading time, and live in a suburb like me where to get a milk you really need to get in your car, you know what I mean. Since I discovered them in 1987 or so I have read so many more books, and great ones, than I would have been able to.

And been read to, been given different insights into the different books -- rather like great and good film adaptations and translations and wonderful living criticism. Phantom presences, phantom voices like much of our imagined lives.

May. 18th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
From Nick
"Sorry to hear about your tape player as well - I know how much you loved it."

He also sent:

I heard from Nick the other day -- he's feeling better, and sent along these verses after he read and much sympathized with my loss of my tape deck and long novels in audiocassettes:

From Don Juan (which he's rereading sporadically):

'Tis the vile daily drop on drop which wears
The soul out (like the stone) with petty cares.

A scolding wife, a sullen son, a bill
To pay, unpaid, protested, or discounted
At a per-centage ; a child cross, dog ill,
A favourite horse fallen lame just as he 's mounted,
A bad old woman making a worse will,
Which leaves you minus of the cash you counted
As certain ; — these are paltry things, and yet
I 've rarely seen the man they did not fret.

His comment:

"The sexism (scolding wife) has to be noted of course (although the will reference was personal and intended rather than generic as it applies to his mother-in-law's will which was indeed vitriolic leaving a portrait of B. with instructions that it was not to be shown to Ada until she was 21) but I think on the whole the 'vile daily drop on drop' is brilliant (and very Byronic in the true rather than popular sense - a poet of the everyday experience)."

My comment on Byron:

It speaks well of Byron; you might think such a privileged male would not think of how for others "a bad old woman" who betrays those she might have been close to and helped is a grating irritant, but he sees it. Like other have I think that last mortal illness Austen had was brought in (helped along) partly by a series of financial setbacks (the family did not inherit a legacy, brother Henry went backrupt, brother Edward sued in court for his adopted inheritance). _Miss Austen Regrets_ implies this too.


Edited at 2010-05-20 01:43 pm (UTC)
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