reading in progress



CURRENT READING (MEDIEVALIST) including literary “likes” and related matters of taste in current culture: philological treasures—imaginative, irrealist, & speculative fictions—translatio medii — stultifera navis

research in progress: current interests and topics
writings in progress: things doing, nearly done, and done


I’m (c. 2008-11) currently reading or rereading the following; ranging from the much-reread to the shiny and new. I’m also reading various other things, some of them work-related (thought, literary criticism, essays, blogs, even—heaven forfend—history and language/linguistics), some of them less so.

My “reading” involves multiple readings, partial and non-linear or -sequential readings, readings in parallel (or, again, further multiples), comparative readings, circular readings, rearrangement of combinations and permutations; and indeed the rearrangement of books on shelves (and of files in an electronic library). So, to cut a long and tortuous story short, this list will simply accumulate over the life of this blog, and I’ll change the date  every Happy New Year.

Benedeit, Le Voyage de Saint Brendan
Arnaut de Mareuil
Raimon Vidal de Besalú
Partonopeu de Blois
Chrétien de Troyes
Andreas Capellanus, De Amore
Dermot and the Earl
Le Bel Inconnu
Meraugis de Portlesguez
Joufroi de Poitiers
Jean Renart
Gerbert de Montreuil
LancelotGraal, Merlin, and Perceval cycles
Guillaume de Lorris’ part of the Roman de la Rose
Jean de Meun, Roman de la Rose
Adam de la Halle
Raimon Llull
Juan Ruiz, El Libro de buen amor
Matfré Ermengaut, Breviari d’amors
Boccaccio, Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta
Machaut, Le Voir dit
Froissart, dits + Meliador
Eustache Deschamps
Christine de Pisan
Charles d’Orleans
Alain Chartier
Martin le Franc, Le Champion des dames
Fernando de Rojas, Celestina (inspired to read it by one of my colleagues)

+ ongoing work in progress on the debates around the Roman de la Rose and the Belle Dame sans merci, within a broader Querelle des Femmes

(back to the top of the page)


Favourite non-Medieval authors (and works). The Medieval/~ist connection:

  • composers of imaginative, speculative, and mythopoetic fictions
  • many are writing “romance”
  • most are also “Medievalist”
  • both these terms in the senses of broad-sense translatio and featuring adaptation, refashioning / re-dressing / re-newing, compilation, continuation, and other derivative ingenuity and experimental play

Many are contemporary, or at least active within the last 100 years / the electronic age. The range of tones goes full-circle from the “archaic” to the “baroque” to the spare. Current generic labels would include: cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk, imaginative fiction(s), irrealism, magic realism, science fiction, speculative fiction, slipstream, steampunk.

Some have simply been found to be repeatedly enjoyable. So I may just be making excuses, and inventing, reinventing, twisting, tweaking, and otherwise messing around with categories; the actual category being “likes.”

Further cheating by copy-pasting over from Facebook; one of FB’s inadequacies being their failure to provide adequate room for one’s reading preferences. The system was initially subverted by (ab)using all the “info” spaces reserved for “favourite quotations” and “about me.” The result was an admission: I am my favourite books.
UPDATE: FB now insists on turning one’s likes into actual pages, with some hilarious consequences due to their system’s lack of syntactic and semantic awareness. Once I discovered I’d created hundreds of pages entitled “Dammit” and “I don’t have a TV” and the like (you don’t want to know what happened to actual authors and titles), I removed all bookishness and transplanted it here.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: some literature back on FB: living (or fairly recently deceased) writers I like a lot, so much that I would run out and buy pretty much anything with their name on it; my own personal auctores.

blogography: much of my reading being online
femography: ditto; I am a woman and (therefore) actively interested in feminism—that is to say: feminist thought about women and feminist points of view on the world; i.e. posthegemonic gynocriticism; en somme, all that is anti-phallogocentric.
filmography: especially Arthuriana, Medievalism, and second-degree Medievalism


philological treasures:

Dictionaries, grammars, and works on linguistic usage and composition. Items of a more historical bent: Godefroy, von Wartburg, the AND and DAF online. Project Perseus. The Oxford English Dictionary and the Historical Thesaurus of the OED.

imaginative and speculative fictions, fabulosity, and other observant commentary:
Obrientarnal FB auctores:
bold red
I like, enjoy, esteem, value, prize, and maybe even venerate and love so much that I’d buy anything by them; nearly all are currently alive or fairly recently deceased (for obvious practical reasons re. production of new works)
BOLD RED CAPS = my absolute favourites.

Douglas Adams — Richard Adams — Giorgio Agamben — Joan Aiken — Hand Christian Andersen — Poul Anderson — Hannah Arendt — Guillaume Apollinaire — Apuleius — Isaac Asimov — Cynthia Asquith — Margaret Atwood (the imaginative stuff, Handmaid, Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood) — Marie Catherine d’Aulnoy — Gaston Bachelard — Paolo Bacigalupi — Mikhail Bakhtin — J.G. Ballard — Honoré de Balzac — Iain M. Banks (and some Iain Banks: Wasp Factory, Bridge) — Clive Barker — Roland Barthes — Beaumarchais — Elizabeth BearGreg Bear — Samuel Beckett —Tahar Ben Jelloun — Walter Benjamin — Isaiah Berlin — Algernon Blackwood — Quentin Blake — Karen Blixen — Jorge Luis Borges — Pierre Bourdieu — Ray Bradbury — Marion Zimmer Bradley — Poppy Z. Brite — Charlotte Brontë — Emily Brontë — Christopher Brookmyre — Lois McMaster Bujold — Mikhail Bulgakov — Anthony Burgess — OCTAVIA E. BUTLER (WHO SHOULD HAVE GOT THE NOBEL!!!) — A.S. ByattPat Cadigan — Italo Calvino — Orson Scott CardLeonora Carrington — ANGELA CARTER — Michel de Certeau — Aimé Césaire — Michael Chabon — Suzy McKee Charnas — Anton Chekhov — Hélène Cixous — Eoin Colfer — Alastair Cooke — Susan Cooper — Robert Coover — Julio Cortazár — Jonathan Culler — Roald Dahl — Guy Debord — Gilles Deleuze — Jacques Derrida — Philip K. DickCory Doctorow — Stephen R. Donaldson — Tananarive Due — Terry Eagleton — Umberto Eco — Greg Egan — George Eliot — Michael Ende — Erasmus — Laura Esquivel — Stanley Fish — Gustave Flaubert — Clement Freud — Erich Fromm — Northrop Frye — Neil GaimanAlan Garner — Théophile Gautier — Gérard Genette — Mary Gentle — William Gibson — A.A. Gill — Charlotte Perkins Gilman — William Golding — René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo (esp, obv., The Smurfs) — Günter Grass — Alasdair Gray — Graham Greene — Germaine Greer — bros. Grimm — Lian Hearn — Robert A. Heinlein — Russell Hoban — Peter Høeg — Robert Holdstock — Tanya Huff — Victor Hugo — Aldous Huxley — Wolfgang Iser — Clive James — Henry James — M.R. James — Fredric Jameson — TOVE JANSSON — Hand Robert Jauss — Diana Wynne Jones — Franz Kafka — Guy Gavriel KayStephen KingNancy Kress — Julia Kristeva — Mercedes Lackey — Marghanita Laski — Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont — F.R Leavis — J.M.G. Le Clézio — URSULA K. LE GUIN  (everything: her wonderful essays ought to be more widely read) — Tanith Lee — Fritz Leiber — Doris Lessing (the imaginative stuff) — Jonathan Lethem — Claude Lévi-Strauss — Astrid Lindgren — Charles de Lint — Penelope Lively — H.P. Lovecraft — Vonda McIntyre — Stéphane Mallarmé — Robin McKinley — Paul de Man (distinguishing the writer from the man, I stress) — Marivaux — Gabriel Garcia Márquez — Guy de Maupassant — Daphne du Maurier — Prosper Mérimée — China Miéville — Walter Miller (Leibowitz) — Spike Milligan — A.A. Milne — Molière —Montaigne — Alan Moore — Michael Morpurgo — Thomas More — Haruki Murakami — Alexander Nehamas — Beverley Nichols — Larry Niven (except for near-absence of decent women) — Garth Nix — Charles Nodier — Jeff Noon — Andre NortonJoyce Carol Oates— Flann O’Brien — Nnedi Okorafor — Ben Okri — George OrwellMervyn Peake — Charles Perrault — Peyo — Karl Popper — Terry PratchettPhilip PullmanThomas Pynchon — François Rabelais — Anne Rice (when she was fun) — I.A. Richards — Avital Ronell — Philip Roth — Jean-Jacques Rousseau — J.K. Rowling — Salman Rushdie — Joanna Russ — D.A.F. de Sade — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry — San Antonio — José Saramago — George Sand — Melissa Scott — Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick — Sempé — Dr Seuss — Shakespeare — G.B. Shaw — Nisi Shawl — Robert Shea — Mary Shelley — Dan Simmons — Susan Sontag — Neal Stephenson — Stendhal — Bruce Sterling — Mary Stewart — Charles Stross — Patrick Süskind — Rosemary Sutcliffe — Jonathan Swift — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin — Sheri S. Tepper — Tzvetan Todorov — J.R.R. Tolkien — Jeff Vandermeer — Jules Verne — Voltaire — Kurt Vonnegut — Roland C. Wagner — Edith Wharton — T.H. White — Oscar Wilde — Robert Anton Wilson — Jeanette Winterson — Monique Wittig — Mary Wollstonecraft — Virginia Woolf — John Wyndham — Roger Zelazny.

[Yes, genres and forms have been mixed; yes, some of the above usually count as literary criticism, critical theory, and journalism; and as such are usually labelled as non-fiction. But these are my likes, my lists, my categories, and reflect how I think about them. Persistent grump about the margins/mainstream silliness: Nobel prize-winning imaginative narrative littérateurs? let’s see … Maeterlinck, Shaw, pushing it with Camus & Sartre, Beckett, Garcia Márquez, Golding, Saramago, Grass, Lessing, Le Clézio … ]



• Akerman — the Alien films — Almodóvar — Barbarella —Bergman — Breillat — Tim Burton — John Carpenter — Coen bros — Cocteau, esp. La Belle et la bête — Cronenberg — Dreyer — Dulac — Ealing Comedies — Fellini — Galaxy Quest —Gilliam — Godard — Greenaway — Hammer Horror — Hitchcock — Jarman — Jarmusch — Jeunet & Caro — Kaufman — Kieslowski — Kolski — Kubrick — Kurosawa — Bass & Rankin’s The Last Unicorn — Lynch — Malle — Marker — The Matrix — Méliès — Mizayaki — Murnau — Oshima — Oshii — Nick Park — The Pythons — Renoir — Rohmer (not all, but love Perceval le Gallois) — Rossellini — Svankmayr — Kevin Smith — Star Wars — Tarantino — Guillermo del Toro — Lars von Trier — Truffaut — Ullmann.
And more sci-fi. And more 60s classics.

• Anything with:
Fanny Ardant — Kathy Bates — Sean Bean — Ingrid Bergman — Juliette Binoche — Mel Blanc — Louise Brooks — Michael Caine — Jackie Chan — Charlie Chaplin — Chow Yun-Fat — Toni Collette — Sean Connery — Peter Cook — Daniel Craig — Penélope Cruz — Peter Cushing — Bette Davis — Jamel Debbouze — Gérard Depardieu — Judy Dench — Johnny Depp — Marty Feldman — Laurence Fishburne — Jodie Foster — Morgan Freeman — Katherine Hepburn — Anthony Hopkins — Isabelle Huppert — Samuel L. Jackson — Buster Keaton — Bruce Lee — Christopher Lee — Jennifer Jason Leigh — Bela Lugosi — Joanna Lumley — Frances McDormand — Ian McKellen — Helen Mirren — Julianne Moore — Viggo Mortensen — Liam Neeson — Paul Newman — Thandie Newton — Gary Oldman — Clive Owen — Ron Perlman — Sidney Poitier — Robert Redford — the Redgrave and Richardson ladies — Jean Reno — Jonathan Rhys Meyers — Alan Rickman — Diana Rigg — Tim Roth — Geoffrey Rush — Kristin Scott Thomas — Peter Sellers — Rufus Sewell — Maggie Smith — Toby Stephens — Meryl Streep — Tilda Swinton — David Tennant — Denzel Washington — Emily Watson — Sigourney Weaver — Mae West — Robin Williams.
Preferably all at once.


I don’t actually have a TV (by choice). Most of my viewing is on YouTube or with friends and family, as a sociable event. I will happily watch any of the following (in case, say, perchance you’re planning a sociable event and thinking of inviting me…):

• crime and detection
• amusing cookery programmes, including anything by Keith Floyd, Jamie Oliver, or Heston Blumenthal
• historical documentaries and dramas; the buckling of swash
• the natural and environmental; occasional travel (if with Michael Palin or similar)

I rather dislike many documentaries, though, and strongly dislike fly-on-the-wall voyeurism, reality TV, game-shows (unless intentionally comic), anything telling one what one ought to do / wear / etc., all things “celebrity” and “talent,” and many a thing with “just” or “show” in the title (exceptions noted below)

But I’d gladly pay good money to watch Comedy Central, the Sci-Fi Channel, the History Channel, National Geographic, and good old British Channel 4.

I actively like the following:

The Addams FamilyÆon FluxThe Avengers — Babylon 5 — Bananaman — Batman — Battlestar Galactica — Buck Rogers in the 25th C. — Buffy — Clangers — Courage the Cowardly Dog — Cow & Chicken — Creature Comforts — Daria — Dexter’s Laboratory — Doctor Who — E.R. — Family Guy — Farscape — Frasier — Futurama — Grim & Evil — Hercules — House — The Jetsons — The Kingdom (von Trier’s Riget) — The Langoliers — Miranda — The Monkey King — The Muppet Show — Northern Exposure — The Office — The Prisoner — Red Dwarf — Ren & Stimpy —Roswell — Scooby-Doo — Sesame Street — The Simpsons — Sliders — Smallville — South Park — Star Trek — Third Rock from the Sun — Torchwood — Twin Peaks — Wacky Races — The Wombles — The X-Files — Xena Warrior Princess — Yogi Bear


I do, however, listen to the radio a lot. BBC 4, 7, and 3.

Particularly BBC Radio 4: for its quality satire, that pillar of democracy and civilization; for quality stand-up featuring rapier wit, the sardonic and sharp, the fragile brilliance of unexpected associations, and a general rapidity of thought; and for the surreal, whimsical, and charming: as poetic observation and commentary on the world. One thing that contributes to a usual cheerful disposition is looking forward to the next annual comedic concentrations of the Edinburgh Festival (& Perrier comp) & Fringe.

My tastes are more of a British—inc. northern English and Scottish darkness—and Irish bent, I’m afraid; plus a sprinkling of the classic Russian and Eastern European sardonic and surreal—a.k.a. further darkness; and some rare exceptions and glimmers of light from much earlier—and earlier in spirit—French comedy: Rabelais, Molière, Marivaux, and Marcel Marceau.

I like the following—for some of them, a liking verging on squeal-inducing, heart-rate-increasing veneration and adoration:

• Clive Anderson — Rowan Atkinson — Bill Bailey — Blackadder — Jo Brand — Rhona Cameron — Peter Cook (and Pete & Dud, and Derek & Clive) — Jack Dee — Father Ted — The Fast Show (some of it) — Tina Fey — Flight of the Conchords — Stephen Fry — The Goodies — The Goons — Andy Hamilton — Jeremy Hardy — Harry Hill — Have I Got News For You — Ian Hislop — I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue — Eddie Izzard — Just A Minute — Kids in the Hall — Hugh Laurie — Josie Lawrence — Little Britain (some of it) — Josie Long (WONDERFUL!!!) — Julia Louis-Dreyfus — Paul Merton — Spike Milligan — David Mitchell — Monty Python — Dylan Moran — The News Quiz — The Now Show — The Onion — Sue Perkins — Private Eye — QI — Saturday Night Live — Sarah Silverman — The Simpsons — Linda Smith, R.I.P. — Mark Steel — Jon Stewart — Catherine Tate — Mark Thomas — Sandi Toksvig — Lily Tomlin — Henning Wehn — Whose Line Is It Anyway — all things Kenneth Williams & Tony Hancock — Victoria Wood.

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue might be my favourite programme ever, going so far as to declare:


Appendix: screenshot (05/2010) of what Facebook does to one. Some subversion has been left for comic effect, as an experiment to see if other people join the “groups” and “pages” I’ve now “created.” (I left off “Movies” and “Television” as filled them in as I did “Books.”) I think Facebook’s approach to the individual may deserve a post in its own right; as much for the pros—actual and potential—as the doubtless all-too-familiar cons.

[Ed. post now duly written: “on Facebook“]

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→ over to research in progress
→ over to writings in progress
→ back to about the obrienatrix

Top: doctored version based on cover of Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Women at Work in Medieval Europe (New York: Facts on File, 2001).
Bottom: Original pre-doctored image from
photo-i; doctoring by the Obrienatrix (for The Rose of the Romance site, Princeton U, 2003). Carefully hand-crafted using open source software (BBEdit and KompoZer) and Photoshop.

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