Wednesday, 30 January 2019

*New* Decade Challenge 2019 @ GOODREADS Bookcrossers: The List

Click on the image to go straight
to the *New* Decade Challenge post
in the GOODREADS Bookcrossers group

1 January – 31 December 2019

A Literary Voyage Through Twelve Decades
in Ten Plunges and Two Extra Deep Dives 


The Two Extra Deep Dives


1900-09:
Victor Català: Solitude (1905), original Catalan title: Solitud
1910-19:
Mori Ōgai: The Wild Geese (1911-13), original Japanese title:

The Ten Plunges


1920-29:
Clara Viebig: The Golden Hills (1927), original German title: Die goldenen Berge
1930-39:
Samuel Beckett: Murphy (1938)
1940-49:
Natalie Sarraute: Portrait of a Man Unknown (1948), original French title: Portrait d'un inconnu
1950-59:
Per Olov Enquist: The Magnetist's Fifth Winter (1954), original Swedish title: Magnetisörens femte vinter
1960-69:
Pak Kyongni: The Curse of Kim's Daughters (1962), original Korean title: 김약국의 딸들
1970-79:
Francisco Umbral: A Mortal Spring (1975), original Spanish title: Mortal y rosa
1980-89:
Nélida Piñon: The Republic of Dreams (1984), original Brazilian-Portuguese title: A República dos Sonhos
1990-99:
Gao Xingjian: One Man's Bible (1999), original Chinese title: 一個人的聖經
2000-09:
Olga Tokarczuk: Flights (2007), original Polish title: Bieguni
2010-19:
Umberto Eco: The Prague Cemetery (2010), original Italian title: Il cimiero di Praga

Monday, 28 January 2019

Poetry Revisited: The Garden in Winter by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Garden in Winter

(from The Watchman & Other Poems: 1916)

Frosty-white and cold it lies
Underneath the fretful skies;
Snowflakes flutter where the red
Banners of the poppies spread,
And the drifts are wide and deep
Where the lilies fell asleep.

But the sunsets o'er it throw
Flame-like splendor, lucent glow,
And the moonshine makes it gleam
Like a wonderland of dream,
And the sharp winds all the day
Pipe and whistle shrilly gay.

Safe beneath the snowdrifts lie
Rainbow buds of by-and-by;
In the long, sweet days of spring
Music of bluebells shall ring,
And its faintly golden cup
Many a primrose will hold up.

Though the winds are keen and chill
Roses' hearts are beating still,
And the garden tranquilly
Dreams of happy hours to be­
In the summer days of blue
All its dreamings will come true.

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)
Canadian author

Friday, 25 January 2019

Bookish Déjà-Vu: The Greater Hope by Ilse Aichinger

http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-greater-hope-by-ilse-aichinger.html

The racist frenzy of the Nazis that drove them to commit the most barbaric deeds in order to “protect” the actually only imagined purity of the Aryan bloodline of the German people didn’t spare the children. The smaller they were, the less they understood why they were banned from schools and playgrounds or why their friends shunned them all of a sudden. What is more, they certainly sensed the growing fear of the adults around them, not least because they were urgently warned against overstepping any of the new discriminating rules and they quickly learnt that it didn’t even need a transgression to experience violence. Family members vanished from their lives thanks to deportation or – like in the case of the only half-Jewish protagonist of the Austrian post-war classic The Greater Hope by Ilse Aichinger that I feature as a bookish déjà vu – to the flight to a safe haven.

Read my review »

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Epistolary Reading Challenge 2019: The List

Click on the image to go straight
to the challenge on Whatever I Think Of

1 January – 31 December 2019

My 2019 Literary Mail Portion of
100 Novels in Letters


– planned and reviewed –
(subject to change)

  • Rashid Al-Daif: Dear Mr. Kawabata (1995), original Arabic title: عزيزي السيد كواباتا (actually read in 2018, but reviewed in 2019)
  • José Maria de Eça de Queiros: Correspondence of Fradique Mendes (1900), original Portuguese title: Correspondência de Fradique Mendes
  • Kathrin Kessman Taylor: Address Unknown (1938)
  • John Updike: S. (1988)
  • Thornton Wilder: The Ides of March (1948)
  • Anne Youngson: Meet Me at the Museum (2018)

Monday, 21 January 2019

Poetry Revisited: The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy

The Darkling Thrush

(from Poems of the Past and the Present: 1901)

I leant upon a coppice gate
     When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
     The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
     Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
     Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
     The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
     The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
     Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
     Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
     The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
     Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
     In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
     Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
     Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
     Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
     His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
     And I was unaware.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
English novelist and poet

Friday, 18 January 2019

Book Review: Mr. Sammler's Planet by Saul Bellow

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1240069.Mr_Sammler_s_Planet
The experience of the holocaust marked forever the lives of the survivors, no matter how much they would have liked it to be differently. Many of them will have pushed aside all thoughts of the past because they couldn’t bear the pain any more and they had to concentrate on building a future from virtually nothing. And yet, the indescribable suffering that they had seen and endured must have lingered on in their souls adding subconscious overtones to their actions, thoughts and ways of life. This is also the genesis of Mr. Sammler’s Planet as brought to literary life by Saul Bellow, the 1976 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. In the summer of 1969, Artur Sammler is a holocaust survivor well in his seventies who lives in New York City and indulges in intellectual musings on the increasingly vulgar and brutal comedy of modern life that surrounds him.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Back Reviews Reel: January 2016

The reviews of three classics and two contemporary works rang in 2016. On New Year’s Day I presented the classical Italian satire The Man Who Searched for Love by Pitigrilli surrounding a judge who gives up his job and becomes a clown. After this I set out to fill A Double Alphabet of Writers for Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks. The 1988 Canadian novel Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood about a renowned painter whose visit to the city where she grew up evokes unpleasant childhood memories started the female alphabet followed by The Diary of a Lost Girl by Margarete Böhme, a forgotten German classic that tells the story of an unmarried teenager of the fin-de-siècle who gets pregnant. For the retrograde male alphabet I reviewed Softcore by Tirdad Zolghadr, a novel from 2007 set in Tehran, and the Japanese historical fiction classic The Heiké Story by Yoshikawa Eiji.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Poetry Revisited: Falling Snow by Amy Lowell

Falling Snow

(from Pictures of the Floating World: 1919)

The snow whispers around me
And my wooden clogs
Leave holes behind me in the snow.
But no one will pass this way
Seeking my footsteps,
And when the temple bell rings again
They will be covered and gone.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
American poet of the imagist school
from Brookline Massachusetts

Friday, 11 January 2019

Bookish Déjà-Vu: The Night in Lisbon by Erich Maria Remarque

http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-night-in-lisbon-by-erich-maria.html

During the years of Hitler’s Third Reich, many saw their only realistic chance to survive Nazi terror and later war in vanishing from the scene, if possible without leaving a trace. Life on the run, however, wasn’t a bed of roses. No place remained safe for more than a while, not even other countries because it didn’t take long before German troops began to overrun their borders and to occupy their territories. In addition, it became increasingly difficult, sometimes virtually impossible to get enough to eat and drink without attracting unwanted attention from Nazi supporters and other mean spirits. Despite all, some managed to reach one of the few places that still promised salvation in the 1940s. The protagonists of The Night in Lisbon by Erich Maria Remarque, which I chose as bookish déjà-vu, made their way to the last open European port, but fate follows its course without mercy.
Read my review »

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

The Good Rule Reading Challenge: The List

Click on the image to go straight
to the challenge on Becky’s Book Reviews

1 January – 31 December 2019

My Literary Balance of Books First Released

             Before 1970

As From 1970               

                         
  1. Marga Minco: Bitter Herbs. A Little Chronicle (1957); original Dutch title: Het bittere Kruid. Een kleine Kroniek
  2. Mori Ōgai: The Wild Geese (1911-13), original Japanese title:  
  3. Clara Viebig: The Golden Hills (1927), original German title: Die goldenen Berge
  • Samuel Beckett: Murphy (1938) 
  • Victor Català: Solitude (1905), original Catalan title: Solitud 
  • Heimito von Doderer: Every Man a Murderer (1938), original German title: Ein Mord, den jeder begeht
  • José Maria de Eça de Queiros: Correspondence of Fradique Mendes (1900), original Portuguese title: Correspondência de Fradique Mendes
  • Knut Hamsun: The Women at the Pump (1920), original Norwegian title: Konerne ved Vandposten 
  • Pak Kyongni: The Curse of Kim's Daughters (1962), original Korean title: 김약국의 딸들 
  • Natalie Sarraute: Portrait of a Man Unknown (1948), original French title: Portrait d'un inconnu 
  • Kathrin Kessman Taylor: Address Unknown (1938)  
  • Thornton Wilder: The Ides of March (1948)
  1. Saul Bellow: Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970)
  2. Umberto Eco: The Prague Cemetery (2010), original Italian title: Il cimitero di Praga
  3. Nélida Piñon: The Republic of Dreams (1984), original Brazilian-Protuguese title: A República dos Sonhos
  4. John Updike: S. (1988) 
  • Rachid Al-Daif: Dear Mr. Kawabata (1995), original Arabic title: عزيزي السيد كواباتا
  • Mathias Énard: Compass (2015), original French title: Boussole 
  • Gao Xingjian: One Man's Bible (1999), original Chinese title: 一個人的聖經 
  • Günter Grass: Crabwalk (2002), original German title: Im Krebsgang 
  • Peter Handke: Short Letter, Long Farewell (1972), original German title: Der kurze Brief zum langen Abschied 
  • Laila Ibrahim: Paper Wife (2018) 
  • Inka Parei: What Darkness Was (2005), original German title: Was Dunkelheit war 
  • Domnica Radulescu: Train to Trieste (2008), original Romanian title: Trenul de Trieste  
  • Olja Savičević: Farewell, Cowboy (2010), original Croatian title: Adio kauboju 
  • Ilse Tielsch: The Final Year (2006), original German title: Das letzte Jahr 
  • Francisco Umbral: A Mortal Spring (1975), original Spanish title: Mortal y rosa

Monday, 7 January 2019

Poetry Revisited: Snow at Morning by Thomas MacDonagh

Snow at Morning

(from An Macaomh Vol. I, No. 2: Christmas 1909)


As with fitful tune,
All a heart-born air,
Note by note doth fall
The far vision fair
From the Source of all
On the dreaming soul,
Fall to vanish soon.

From the darkening dome,
Starlight every one
Brightening down its way,
Each a little swan
From a cygnet grey,
Wave on wave doth sail,
Whitening into foam.

Late unloosed by God
From their cage aloft
Somewhere near the sky
Snow flakes flutter soft,
Flutter, fall, and die
On the pavement mute,
On the fields untrod.

Thomas MacDonagh (1878-1916)
Irish poet, playwright, educationalist,
political activist, and revolutionary leader

Friday, 4 January 2019

Book Review: Bitter Herbs by Marga Minco

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1038300.Bitter_HerbsThe horrors that alleged “enemies of the Third Reich”, most of all those with Jewish ancestors, had to endure under Nazi reign were so appalling that at the time many simply couldn’t believe rumours about them. When eye witnesses and hard facts of systematic atrocities turned up eventually – as they use to, in general –, the world was dumbfounded and reluctant to take them at face value. In a modern European country like Germany people couldn’t be so barbarous as that, could they? Therefore even when their countries were annexed or occupied, many Jews lulled themselves into a false sense of security until it was too late for escape. The narrator of Bitter Herbs by Marga Minco observes the growing concern of her apparently calm family, notably her parents, as race laws are gradually implemented in the German-occupied Netherlands and deportation to the Polish concentration camps becomes a daily threat.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

2019 Reading Challenges

Another blogging year has begun here on Edith’s Miscellany – the seventh already! – and it’s time to make some literary resolutions. It’s true that I haven’t yet finished my review schedule for 2019, but like past year I plan to fill it with twenty-six books, one for every other week, plus as many extra ones as I feel like writing. Once more I signed up for a few reading challenges starting on 1 January and closing on 31 December 2019 to add flavour to the reviewing… and above all to choosing the right books. However, in this collective sign-up post for all reading challenges in which I’m participating this year, there is only one real novelty and one that fits in perfectly with my habits as you will see. A separate book list for each one of the reading challenges will go online later this month.

https://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-good-rule-reading-challenge-list.html This year I stumbled accross The Good Rule Reading Challenge on Becky’s Book Reviews and I just couldn’t resist signing up. The idea is to alternate old and new books as C. S. Lewis recommends in his inspiring quote. In fact, I long made it my habit to review classical and contemporary works in equal shares, but so far the opportunity to do so for a reading challenge never presented itself. I don’t intend to apply the good rule to other books than those read for review here on my book blog, be they classics first released between 1900 and 1970 or later contemporary fiction. I doubt that any reread book will make it on my review schedule this year although I don’t generally exclude them.

»»» follow my progess on My Literary Balance of Books First Released Before/As From 1970.

https://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2019/01/epistolary-reading-challenge-2019-list.htmlAs a matter of fact, the Epistolary Reading Challenge 2019 that Jamie Ghione hosts on her blog Whatever I Think Of is a bit of a déjà-vu as well because I participated already in its 2017 edition. Back then I made my personal longlist of 100 Novels in Letters that I keep revising and completing with review links since. Just like two years ago, my focus will be on fiction based on good old snail mail letters only… which means that I’m going to pass over novels written in related forms like diaries, blogs, e-mails, tweets, instant messages or whatever new ways of communicating with others have escaped me so far. I haven’t yet made up my mind about how many or which epistolary novels I’m going to read for the challenge, but there definitely are enough of them on my wish list.

»»» check out the regularly up-dated list of My 2019 Literary Mail Portion of 100 Novels in Letters.

https://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2019/01/new-decade-challenge-2019-list.html
Once again, too, I signed up for the *New* Decade Challenge of the GOODREADS Bookcrossers Group. This time I’m going to make it A Literary Voyage Through Twelve Decades in Ten Plunges and Two Extra Deep Dives, i.e. I plan to read books first published from 1900 on instead of limiting myself to 99 years as intended by the host. In addition, I’ll try to find books written in twelve different languages, but as yet I haven’t found the right one for each period. I’ll post all my reviews here on Edith’s Miscellany, of course, and later I’ll share a teaser with the review link on GOODREADS … unless I forget as I sometimes did.

»»» find out which destinations of My Literary Voyage Through Twelve Decades in Ten Plunges and Two Extra Deep Dives I already ticked off on my list and which you can still look forward to.

http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2014/04/reading-challenge-read-nobels.html
This leaves the perpetual reading challenge of Aloi aka the Guiltless Reader that I joined already in spring 2014, namely Read the Nobels. It goes without saying that (although time-delayed) I’ll continue cross-posting duplicates of my reviews of books written by an “en-NOBEL-ed” on the Read the Nobels blog although to my great regret it has been pretty dormant as late. As far as I know, there isn’t any other site online with as many reviews of books penned by one of the 114 Nobel laureates in Literature so far. I’m planning to add another five reviews in the course of 2019 that will bring me fairly close to having ticked off half of the authors on the list by the end of the year.

»»» see my post for Read the Nobels with the complete list of winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature and the links to my own book reviews here on Edith's Miscellany and on Lagraziana’s Kalliopeion.