Not long ago, David Baddiel, the actor and comedian, told his Twitter followers he was ‘rereading’ Middlemarch. In a series of tweets on the experience, he claimed that George Eliot’s novel was better than anything by Tolstoy, Flaubert, and Proust.
In his history of crime fiction, Bloody Murder, Julian Symons called it ‘the detective story to end detective stories… a dazzling and perhaps fortunately unrepeatable box of tricks’.
Listening to an episode of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time radio programme recently, I learned that the first person to postulate the existence of black holes was not, as I’d always assumed, some twentieth-century genius like Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking, but an eighteenth-century scientist called John Michell.
I re-read Jorge Luis Borges’ short story ‘Emma Zunz’ last week. It’s a tale of revenge and I went back to it because I was writing my own tale of revenge.