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A Zodiac of Literature

About

A Zodiac of Literature is a particular selection of novels, plays, and poetry that pertains to one person, myself.  Given that every person could choose twelve or more books that are the most important to them, place those choices beside mine, we could then behold how much or how little life appears the same to us. Even having read them all, you might not have been as impacted by them as I have. The idea of a work of art making an impact is worth thinking about and is one of the purposes of putting the books together and writing about them. 

The Zodiac, however, represents more than their impact on me. It strikes me that the books have a unity based on their meaning for me. This might be the essence of having read them, in the sense that their being meaningful together is not apparent. 

This project will examine ways to find how the books will find a way to mean something. Some of the ways include a close look at 

     a) the first sentence of the book;

     b) the last sentence of the book

     c) the rudimentary sentence of the novel.

Originally, I called the third "cellular sentences", meaning that I would examine it like the cell of a living organism and derive from this examination the essential qualities. However, the term "cellular" since I first used it (back to the late 1970s), has taken a new meaning that might mislead readers. I could have used "fundamental" or "essential" but these words would convey claims about the sentences which I couldn't live up to. This third way represents a deliberate, arbitrary choice. I say "arbitrary" because the books have so many sentences; yet, it will prove, I hope, not to be as arbitrary as one might presume. 

The books are:

Cosmos -- Witold Gombrowicz (1967; Polish)

Monsieur Levert -- Robert Pinget (1959; French)

The Third Policeman -- Flann o"Brien (1966 [written 1940]; Irish)

Heart of a Dog -- Mikhail Bugakov (1925; Russian)

The Eater of Darkness -- Robert M. Coates (1926; American)

Moravagine -- Blaise Cendrars (1926; French)

The Homecoming -- Harold Pinter (1963; British)

As I Lay Dying -- William Faulkner (1930; American)

The Palm-Wine Drinkard -- Amos Tutuola (1953; Nigerian)

Underworld -- Don DeLillo (1997; American)

Soap -- Francis Ponge (1967; French)

Most of these books I read in the 1970's when I compiled the Zodiac around 1977. The original list included a few books that have been displaced: Flight from the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch, which knocked the sole female author, and had its place taken by DeLillo's Underworld.  Raymond Queneau's The Skin of Dreams was replaced by The Blue Flowers. More, I have been tempted to tweak it further. Then I thought I would lose the original scheme and thrust. 

The Zodiac appears from the enormous cluster of books I have read over 60 years. Indeed, the books themselves standout amidst the more dense cluster of books I have read by their authors. There are only a few that I haven't read among those written by the twelve authors. This might be thought of as my transcending the obsessive pursuits of my reading habits. 

The following pages will deal with the books of the Zodiac individually and then apply the various aforementioned means to the whole in an attempt to find a central or interweaving theme and connections.

Mission

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Vision

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