Friday, 28 November 2014

Book Review: None to Accompany Me by Nadine Gordimer a long time South Africa was a place where a white minority saw itself in the right to exclude the vast coloured majority from power and even to determine the lives of its members in a way that nobody with working brains was likely to endure willingly, but in the end segregation and institutionalised discrimination couldn’t last even there. Thanks to the influence of Nelson Mandela and other moderate political activists the country saw a peaceful transition from the Apartheid regime to a democratic system based on equal rights for all her citizens. None to Accompany Me by Nadine Gordimer, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1991, shows some of the dramatic changes during this difficult period and their influence on the daily lives of South Africans.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Author’s Portrait: Maria Firmina dos Reis

Already earlier this year I remarked that Brazil was a bit of a blank on my literary world map although the country is huge and counts millions of inhabitants. As a matter of fact, her literature receives little attention abroad. Maybe this is due to the fact that Brazil’s official language is the local variety of Portuguese and I noticed that translations from this language aren’t particularly present on the international book market. Despite all there are of course notable Brazilian writers apart from Paulo Coelho, contemporary as well as classic ones. There even was a nineteenth-century woman writer, moreover one with African roots, who enjoyed some renown in her time. Her name was Maria Firmina dos Reis and this portrait is dedicated to her.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Book Review: Brother of Sleep by Robert Schneider literature has a long tradition, but it’s not very well known abroad and as you may have noticed I’ve taken it upon me to spread its word a little. In fact, I would consider it rather odd if I – an Austrian book blogger – neglected the literary production of my own country in favour of Anglo-American blockbusters which are overwhelmingly present on the internet and in bookshops, anyways. For this week’s review I chose an Austrian novel which earned international fame in the early 1990s. Brother of Sleep by Robert Schneider is historical fiction set in the mountains of Austria in the early nineteenth century and tells the story of a musical genius in love who was born into a poor and hardworking environment without use or understanding for his exceptional gift.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Poetry Revisited: A Night in November by Thomas Hardy

A Night in November


I marked when the weather changed,
And the panes began to quake,
And the winds rose up and ranged,
That night, lying half-awake.

Dead leaves blew into my room,
And alighted upon my bed,
And a tree declared to the gloom
Its sorrow that they were shed.

One leaf of them touched my hand,
And I thought that it was you
There stood as you used to stand,
And saying at last you knew!

Thomas Hardy

Friday, 14 November 2014

Book Review: The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield early twentieth century brought forth some important woman writers whose innovative approach to writing has left such a lasting impact on literary production that the effects are noticeable up to this day. They not only continue to be widely read, but their work also keeps inspiring ever new generations of authors. One of them is Virginia Woolf, of course (»»» read my review of Jacob’s Room). Another one of those much revered modernists is Katherine Mansfield, the master of short story from New Zealand. Her last collection published during her (short) lifetime is The Garden Party and Other Stories which combines fifteen more or less cursory portraits of the everyday lives of well-to-do people, their children and servants in their habitat.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Poetry Revisited: Courage by Margaret Steele Anderson


(in The Flame in the Wind: 1913)

I thank thee, Life, that though I be
This poor and broken thing to see,
I still can look with pure delight
Upon thy rose, the red, the white.

And though so dark my own demesne,
My neighbor's fields so fair and green,
I thank thee that my soul and I
Can fare along that grass and sky.

Yet am I weak! Ere I be done.
Give me one spot that takes the sun!
Give me, ere I uncaring rest.
One rose, to wear it on my breast!

Margaret Steele Anderson

Friday, 7 November 2014

Book Review: Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline World War of 1914-18 brought not only radical changes regarding borders, governments and relations between countries, but it also had a lasting impact on people and society. An important, though controversial novel that shows how the war shadowed life and attitude of two average French combatants, and that I’m reviewing today for both the Books on France 2014 Reading Challenge and The Great War in Literature Special, is Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline. The plot begins with the belligerent atmosphere before the war which led the French army into incredibly atrocious battles in Belgium. The narrating protagonist survives, but carrying the burden of what he has witnessed and participated in his soul remains in the gloom of a never-ending night.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Poetry Revisited: Next Spring by Clement Scott

Next Spring

(from Lays and Lyrics: 1888)

Their loveliness of life and leaf
At last the waving trees have shed;
The garden ground is sown with grief,
The gay chrysanthemum is dead.

But oh! remember this:
There must be birth and blossoming;
Nature will waken with a kiss
Next Spring!

Clement Scott