Finished The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Memoir written by a man who after a stroke ended up with locked-in syndrome, able to communicate only by blinking. He also had some vision in one eye, partial hearing and could be wheeled around in a chair. (The butterfly is his wandering mind, the diving bell a metaphorical immobilizer of his body).
He seems to have managed to keep his spirits up despite his condition. Most readers seem to have found it pretty inspirational. I might have read a bit too much about hedonic adaptation, where this kind of thing is a frequent case study.
Overall though, an interesting book.
What I'm Reading 2
Konstantin by Tom Bullough is a novel based on the life of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, pioneer of space rocket theory. It's fairly episodic, taking you through his childhood in rural Russia, impoverished studenthood in Moscow, and ending up with him as a married schoolteacher.
Was a bit disappointed that the rocket stuff only comes up at the end. Not sure it it really took him so long. War rockets were used in the American Revolution a century earlier, so I would have thought he would have been familiar with the rocket concept, but it doesn't come up.
The book is elegantly written with some moving scenes of tragedy. It works better as a mainstream novel of character than a scientific biography. Worth reading if you'd be interested in an elegiac novel of life in 19th century Russia.
Saw Blue Stockings at the Globe theatre.
I usually stand, but the weather forecast was bad so I got a restricted view seat instead: safely under cover but right at the end of the horseshoe so usually behind the actors. Good choice as a wall of water poured down throughout the evening performance: I've stood through daytime showers but this would have been a bit much. Surprisingly, a good atmosphere, with a defiantly enthusiastic audience cheering and booing throughout.
Actual play was a bit disappointing though. The play is about female students at Girton college Cambridge in 1896 they were reluctantly allowed to be lectured, but not to be awarded degrees. The script is a bit preachy and schematic, with various conflicts and issues rolled out at intervals; and the actors declaiming long speeches about their feelings rather than being allowed to just act them.
The actors struggle valiantly to bring it to life. The lecturers have an easier job with the script than the students, since they're at least supposed to be giving speeches.
Overall, not brilliant, but might be worth seeing if you're interested in the topic or period.
Who knows, I might have liked it a lot more if seen from the front.
Pics. Catvengers assemble.
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