In my last post I mentioned some of the books I've read and re-read which have given satisfaction over my lifetime. There are a few more to add to the list - I'll update it as my memory resurfaces them, like rocks in the spring garden. But now let's shift to a new tack - who would you you pick as your literary dining companion, if somehow the gift could be made?
In time I may change my mind, but my first pick, if it were possible, would be to have dinner with Jonathan Swift. This is not based on any knowledge of what he was like as a man - perhaps he was in person a boorish lout - but the man who wrote Gulliver's Travels could not be boring. I think this was the first book I read where I suddenly found myself in awe of an author's intellect. It's been a while since I've read it, but it was a wonderful experience to travel in Swift's mind. A superb imagination and delightful wit and a fine style. A first-rate satirist and a piercing observer of the human state. if we could make it a threesome I would extend an invitation to Samuel Clemens, I can't help but think it would be a fine time.
As an alternative, if Swift was not available, and by placing the gentlemen in this order I would not pretend to say that one is first and the other second, I would extend an offer to Miguel de Cervantes, to discuss Don Quixote. The copy I read was a translation, by Burton Raffel. It left me yearning to learn to read Spanish so as to truly relish the novel. Reading it was a major undertaking, but well worth it, a story funny, sad, dramatic, full of friendship and once again a deep understanding of our human condition. Once again, I would invite a third companion....and what do you know, maybe it would be Mark Twain this time. I think they have something in common.