Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Meaning of Night

We have been having English weather of late. The overcast grey and mild temperatures with a hint of moisture on the way. Quite far from the -30 degree weather people in western Canada are experiencing now. This weather, though drab and dreary, is rich in character, the kind of weather that an M. R. James short story or a Wilkie Collins novel evokes, or an Atkinson Grimshaw painting can depict. If one would like to curl up with a great victorian-like read, one might want to turn to the recently published novel, The Meaning of Night, by Michael Cox. Though the footnotes seem more obtrusive than necessary, the story and the writing is of enough interest to carry one through the 600 page plus novel. John Bayley in his review of Michael Cox's 1983 biography of M. R. James, M. R. James: An Informal Portrait (Oxford University Press), writes: "Among the many pleasures to be got from Michael Cox's excellent book is the sense of a vanished world. . .Cox's wholly admirable book is a treasure-house of vanished lore, atmosphere and personalities." This could equally be said of The Meaning of Night. A good holiday read to be sure.

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