'Kazuo Ishiguro joins Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan in the AI debate'? Not quite. Ishiguro, in Klara and the Sun, is only really debating with himself. Klara, an 'Artificial Friend', is his latest defamiliarising narrator. Quite what the purpose is of all Ishiguro's defamiliarising has never been clear, but the ride is often pleasantly disconcerting. Ishiguro has learned from the reaction to The Unconsoled, and scaled back his subsequent narratives. Critics complained The Unconsoled induced nightmare and debility. Skewed perspectives and bizarre quests persist into Klara and the Sun, but jeopardy is lacking, possibly because Klara remains uncanny and unrealised. Is it allegory? Is it about autism? Is it about visual disturbance? It may well be that. I suspect Kazuo Ishiguro suffers from classic migraine. Klara's vision frequently pixelates, and she is driven to perform weird tasks in spite of the oncoming storm. At the centre of the novel is a long, long episode in which Klara tries to walk across a field at nightfall. It's reminiscent of the set piece in When We Were Orphans, where the narrator traverses a bombed-out city in search of his parents. I preferred that novel.
Rather sadly, part of the delight I took in reading John Dryden's translation of the Aeneid was the edition I was sent: a brand-new Penguin Classics, but in 90s livery. I never read Dryden at university. My syllabi were traditional; even so, I suspect Dryden was too Tory. I enjoyed his Aeneid greatly. It's in attractive couplets, and very easy to read. It slips down, though perhaps isn't too quotable.
Exhausted after Christmas - I had Covid, and am still easily fatigued - I read Kipling's Kim. Its episodic, picaresque qualities appealed. I do not recognise the charges often levelled against Kipling. I think he extended both the landscapes and the sympathies of the English novel.
I tried Joseph Andrews - another picaresque - but gave up halfway. I once did the same with Tom Jones. Both the comic and the psychological traditions emerged from the primeval soup of the 1740s, and I guess I'm just on team Richardson.