So, Ross has a post in memory of Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time fantasy series. Since modern fantasy is a semi-academic semi-specialty of mine, I have long felt guilty at not having read a word of Jordan. But, you know, I look at all those brick-like things on the shelf at Borders and my heart sinks. (As the Duke of Gloucester said when presented with another volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, “Another damned, thick, square, book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble, eh, Mr. Gibbon?”) And even Jordan’s committed fans seem almost universally to acknowledge that the series is too much of a good thing.
At such moments I’m reminded that in his fabulous book Proust’s Way Roger Shattuck offers, in a footnote, as though he doesn’t want everyone to notice it, a suggested abridgment of In Search of Lost Time: read the first two-thirds of Swann’s Way, Part II of Within a Budding Grove, etc. etc. Someone should do that for would-be readers of Jordan.