Literature, huh, what is it good for?
I have just been reading up on Chaucer. He was that naked bloke in the film A Knights Tale, a bit of a medieval scribbler and his ghost is currently haunting the DNA servers, no doubt telling rude jokes and blowing raspberries.
The reason for this is the BBC's modern 're-imagining' of his Canterbury Tales currently airing in the UK and no doubt turning up on the TV equivalent of the World Service soon, just after another all day Are You Being Served marathon.
These are very enjoyable and certainly seem to be pretty faithful in spirit (Canterbury Tales that is, not Mrs Slocombe's pussy jokes). At least as far as I could tell from a quick skim of the Tales as reprinted on the Get Writing portion of DNA which I'm sure is as far as the average viewer has got. Certainly I find the idea of actually reading Chaucer quite disturbing due to another old writer beginning with C. Cervantes.
I once tried to read Don Quixote but became fundamentally stuck at the Bombadil point which I believe is just after the tilting at windmills section. Try as I might I just cannot be bothered to read through all that telling tales in a pub while Quixote sleeps stuff. And this is my problem with all older literature, long and dull Bombadil points.
The Bombadil point, as posited to me by a bloke in a pub, is that point in a novel where you are mired in dire scene setting, get bored and wander away from the book to find the latest Tom Clancy. Quite often this can occur mere pages from the point where the novel takes off and becomes unputdownable. The perfect example of this being Tom Bombadil in Lord Of The Rings. You either love the story or can't finish it. And where does everyone who has given up stop? Right in the middle of all that hippy blathering and pining for a lost pastoral England that is Tom Bloomin' Bombadil. Ask around, you'll soon find I'm correct.
And this is my point, most older books seem to suffer this. I've yet to meet someone who has read much beyond Don Quixote and his Giants or all the begatting in the Bible. So I want to start a campaign to specially train young academics in dark and musty rooms to not only cross these Bombadil points but to pop back afterwards and tell us what happened.
Next time - Bored of the Rings: Pastiche or Placemat?