Friday 28 October 2016

Some funny lines in A Room with a View, or maybe I keep laughing in the wrong places

Reading A Room with a View, I sometimes laughed at a phrase or clause that I wasn't sure was meant to be funny.
(Emphasis mine)
Like on the 1st page:
"She looked at the two rows of English people who were sitting at the table; at the row of white bottles of water and red bottles of wine that ran between the English people; at the portraits of the late Queen and the late Poet Laureate that hung behind the English people, heavily framed; at the notice of the English church (Rev. Cuthbert Eager, M. A. Oxon.), that was the only other decoration of the wall."
Or this whole sentence a few pages later:
"He preferred to talk to Lucy, whose playing he remembered, rather than to Miss Bartlett, who probably remembered his sermons."
The information given is a bit strange, I think, or it's the structure of the sentence. 
The funniness of this line is perhaps intended: 
"The clergyman, inwardly cursing the female sex, bowed, and departed with her message." 
Or this line, in the same chapter: 
"The young man gazed down on the three ladies, who felt seated on the floor, so low were their chairs." 
This is how E. M. Forster ends chapter 1: 
"Then she completed her inspection of the room, sighed heavily according to her habit, and went to bed." 
Maybe my laughing is what he intended. The "according to her habit" just sounds funny to me. 
What do I see in chapter 2 then? This is the 1st line: 
"It was pleasant to wake up in Florence, to open the eyes upon a bright bare room, with a floor of red tiles which look clean though they are not; with a painted ceiling whereon pink griffins and blue amorini sport in a forest of yellow violins and bassoons." 
Feel like I keep laughing in the wrong places. 

Startled, shocked, reddened with displeasure: chapter 1 of A Room with a View

Everything seems to be pale and dull after Melville. Except for Tolstoy. The Bronte sisters. Nabokov. 
I've just started reading A Room with a View. The 1st page is about Lucy Honeychurch and Charlotte Bartlett whining about the rooms and being upset with the Signora's Cockney accent or the manners of some ill-bred English folk. So small, so petty, so narrow.
A stranger butts in the conversation.
"Miss Bartlett was startled." 
"Generally at a pension people looked them over for a day or two before speaking, and often did not find out that they would “do” till they had gone." 
When the man and his son George seem to impose on them the idea of exchanging rooms: 
"Miss Bartlett, though skilled in the delicacies of conversation, was powerless in the presence of brutality. It was impossible to snub any one so gross. Her face reddened with displeasure. She looked around as much as to say, “Are you all like this?”..." 
In another mood I may have laughed. 
It is clear we're meant to find Charlotte Bartlett ridiculous. Lucy? I'm sure we're supposed to like Lucy- I've watched the film (with Helena Bonham-Carter and Daniel Day-Lewis). 
Look at this scene: 
"... Hardly had she announced this fell decision when she reversed it. The curtains at the end of the room parted, and revealed a clergyman, stout but attractive, who hurried forward to take his place at the table, cheerfully apologizing for his lateness. Lucy, who had not yet acquired decency, at once rose to her feet, exclaiming: “Oh, oh! Why, it’s Mr. Beebe! Oh, how perfectly lovely! Oh, Charlotte, we must stop now, however bad the rooms are. Oh!”" 
Genteel people have such affected manners it gets on my nerves. 

The Confidence-Man- the end

I've finished The Confidence-Man (after about 2 months?). What should I make of it? 
I don't know what I think. This is a strange book, a very strange book, not weird in the way Gogol is weird, or Lewis Carroll is weird, but unusual, because it doesn't look like a novel, but not in the sense that it encompasses many genres and is many things at once like War and Peace or Moby Dick, it's simply different. This book I must read again later and should write about only when I'm more familiar with Melville as well as Thoreau, Poe, Emerson...