I finally finished my first set of 50 multiple-choice questions on Renaissance art history for the academic decathlon. That means I have only 450 more to go, all due before Wednesday.

At least I'm reading a wonderful book - Axel's Castle: A Study of the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930, by the critic Edmund Wilson. It features extended critical essays on W.B. Yeats, Paul Valery, T.S. Eliot, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein. With many delightful digressions.

I also recommend Wilson's The Wound and the Bow: Seven Studies in Literature (Dickens, Kipling, Wharton, Hemingway, Joyce, Sophocles, and Casanova). Wilson finds in the life of each writer a psychic "wound" that is explored in their work. For Dickens, for example, this wound was occasioned by his childhood fall from middle class security into poverty and his time in a workhouse. To contemporary critics, the conclusions may seem a little too pat, but his textual observations are nonetheless outstanding.