Books: responses to confinement and other resources
Xavier de Maistre: ‘A Voyage around my Room’
De Maistre was held prisoner in a hotel room, which became the landscape for an incredible imaginative trek
Fernando Pessoa ‘The Book of Disquiet’: his narrator quietly refuses all unnecessary engagement with the world and the excitability of others, while enjoying doing as little as possible except enjoying the lyrical views of the city from his window
A less positive withdrawl is imagined in Herman Melville’s ‘Bartelby the Scrivener’
George Perec ‘Life: A User’s Manual’
Set in an apartment building, mapping the intricate relationships between its tenants
Daniel Defoe ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’
Also of course, the grand-daddy of all stories of confinement, Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’: now rightly regarded as ‘problematic’ when viewed through a post-colonial lens, but still moving. There was a serialisation endlessly repeated on UK television when I was growing up, with a very ethereal musical score. I always got upset at the episode when his dog died
Samuel Pepys Diary (during the Great Plague of London)
Boccaccio’s ‘The Decameron’ (recommended by Mavi)
‘An Evil Cradling’ by Brian Keenan, held hostage in Beirut for 5 years in 1980s
When confinement goes badly wrong: Polanski’s ‘Repulsion’
‘Fantastic Voyage’: A journey inside the human body
… and a link here to some recommendations for online stuff from the BBC Arts correspondent
12 thoughts on “Books: responses to confinement and other resources”
A little different but I was thinking of the Sprawl Trilogy by William Gibson today for some reason. Definitely an interesting read. I’ve always adored the concept of “The Sprawl” I guess it resonates with me having lived in a city all my life/feeling trapped here/and the odd uncanniness of the city… it feels even stranger now everywhere is emptier.
The Sprawl is definitely on my reading list. Thanks
Thanks Jeff, I read the Perec one on your recommendation, it’s brilliant!
Glad you enjoyed it. I need to read it again. I tried explain to my wife the business about making and unmaking the jigsaw and couldn’t get it right.
I’ll definitely read Fernando Pessoa ‘The Book of Disquiet’, as I could do it in my own language 😉
I’ve just suggested it to my book club group and they are up for it!
I would be interested to hear your (and your book group’s) reactions. I could imagine some people finding the narrator exasperating.
I’ll keep you posted.
I’ve just bought the book 😉
Another suggestion (it doesn’t sound likely to raise your spirits so maybe only read when in a good frame of mind)
Jose Saramago ‘Blindness’
Also, for a social history / design history of the living room try the great Penny Sparke “The Modern Interior”. She provides a brilliant and vivid account of the historical origins of the modern concept of the home.
‘Love in the Time of Cholera’: I know some of you have been reading that
‘A Gentleman in Moscow’
I haven’t read this but heard good responses to it
Just found this on my instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-XrRgPnxge/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
If you want to listen to someone reading in Portuguese – though from Brazil
And here is the translation: https://www.azores-adventures.com/2015/10/tabacaria-by-fernando-pessoa-%C3%A1lvaro-de-campos.html
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