I spent much of the New Year reading The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, which had been on my reading list for a while: two friends highly recommended it and a third kindly bought it for me (for which I’m hugely grateful, however the rest of this sounds). Unfortunately I was disappointed and so I’d love to know why the book is so highly rated by people I admire.
I’m not saying it’s a bad book, but probably not what I was expecting, and not quite up my street. Knowing little about it, I was hioping for more about real spaces, rather than its explorations of different kinds of spaces in poetry and literature. I have obviously been wired wrongly, because poetry rarely sparks my interest (unless it’s funny), so this all seemed wasted on me. Discussions about Rilke et al.’s mentions of houses, drawers, and other spaces just don’t do anything for me.
The back-cover blurb brings to mind Nicholson Baker: “All worlds from literary creation to housework to aesthetics to carpentry take on enhanced — and enchanted — significances. Every reader will never again see ordinary spaces in ordinary ways.” But while I find Baker’s musings a joy to read that do open my eyes to the world, The Poetics of Space was heavy going; the text seemed clumsy and stilted, and I’m not sure if this is simply the florid French style or a disappointing translation.
So, given how warmly the book has been recommended I’d like to know what I’m sure I’ve missed. (While you’re at it, feel free to enlighten me about Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life, which came to me with a similar pedigree but is the only book I’ve failed to finish in several years, as I could make little sense of the first few dozen pages.)