K5 user claes demonstrated immense ineptitude by repeating "An Insular Possession" from my list, and caused further ire with his suggestion of Foucault's Pendulum - the single most pretentious and pointless text ever penned.
I find Dostoevksy most intriguing, and whilst I was not surprised at the endearingly naive suggestion by Husi user ana, I availed myself of the opportunity to peruse once more The Idiot. I also reread The Brothers Karamazov. When I read this several years ago, I found it lacking passion compared to Crime and Punishment; if it is an acquired taste then I am yet to acquire it.
There were several other candidates mentioned which were sufficiently interesting to merit an occasional raised eyebrow; these I shall reserve for the seasons to come.
Stendahl's Charterhouse of Parma is a most impressive work and I thoroughly commend it, even though I disagree most profoundly with his judgement of the relative merits of the Italian psyche. I generally find Vikram Seth's writing excellent but slightly condescending - the level of detail in his characters is impressive but is clearly all filtered through the rose-tinted goggles of the poet cut loose and lacks a certain authenticity. This is especially the case with The Golden Gate; the genuine understanding and passion of the music lover I felt he communicated in An Equal Music was, however, a pleasant surprise. I found the rave reviews of Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red to be unjustified - the writing was prosaic and the story utterly dull.
Most of all, however, I was rendered completely asunder by my self-imposed hiatus from mathematics. No fiction is as enticing as the subtle contours of a fine proof; no lady as beguiling as the boundless joy of continually expecting the unexpected and nonetheless being so completely dumbfounded upon discovering it. Next to the constant unification and reappraisal of elaborate edifices which our forbears have constructed with such finesse, even music loses its charm.
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