Thursday, 31 December 2015

Back to the Classics Challenge 2015 - The Summary January - 31 December 2015

In December 2014, Karen K. from Books and Chocolate called the Back to the Classics Challenge 2015, and when I came across it by mere chance about two months later, I didn’t need to think twice about signing up. Now it's time to take stock.

Follow the link to see my final list with direct links to the book reviews for all 12 categories twice over! 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015 Women Challenge - The Summary

Women Challenge # 3: 1 January - 31 December 2015

hosted by Valentina of Peek-a-booK!

Although I joined in only in March, I still could contribute twenty-four reviews to this challenge. Four more reviews – all of them wintry – went online during the first two months of 2015. I did’t count them for the challenge, but for your information I’ve included the links in my list because they are all excellent reads and (with the exception of two) rather hidden gems of literature which not everybody will have heard of.

Follow the link to get to my complete list of 24+4 reviews!
2015 Women Challenge

Monday, 28 December 2015

Poetry Revisited: December’s Snow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

December's Snow

(from Songs of the Road: 1911)

The bloom is on the May once more,
          The chestnut buds have burst anew;
But, darling, all our springs are o'er,
          'Tis winter still for me and you.
We plucked Life's blossoms long ago
What's left is but December's snow.

But winter has its joys as fair,
          The gentler joys, aloof, apart;
The snow may lie upon our hair
          But never, darling, in our heart.
Sweet were the springs of long ago
But sweeter still December's snow.

Yes, long ago, and yet to me
          It seems a thing of yesterday;
The shade beneath the willow tree,
          The word you looked but feared to say.
Ah! when I learned to love you so
What recked we of December's snow?

But swift the ruthless seasons sped
          And swifter still they speed away.
What though they bow the dainty head
          And fleck the raven hair with gray?
The boy and girl of long ago
Are laughing through the veil of snow.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Friday, 25 December 2015

Book Review: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand a globalising world that urges the individual to adapt to ever more uniform standards, those who are different in any way are almost necessarily pushed into the role of the outsider, not to say the unwanted freak. Just as much as the different, the new and innovative is perceived as a potential danger. Therefore creators often have a difficult standing. Society favours thoughtless – brainless – “selfless” pawns who want whatever they get and like whatever is in fashion. The long novel The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand portrays a man whose creative force spurs him on against the current of the mediocre and praised mainstream. He knows who he is and what he wants. He doesn’t care what others think or do, even when he becomes the target of power-hungry begrudging schemers. He is simply indestructible, invulnerable, unstoppable.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Read the Nobels - My Interim Summary

... and an invitation to join.

Read the Nobels
A Perpetual Reading Challenge

In spring 2013, I browsed the internet for interesting books to read as every so often and came across...

Monday, 21 December 2015

Poetry Revisited: Holly and Mistletoe by Edith M. Thomas and Mistletoe

(from Children of Christmas: 1907)

Said the Holly to the Mistletoe:
     “Of this holy-tide what canst know,—
                    Thou a pagan—thou
                    Of the leafless bough?
My leaves are green, my scarlet berries shine
                    At thought of things divine!”

To the Holly spake the Mistletoe:
     “Matters not, my leafless boughs but show
                    Berries pale as pearl—
                    Ask yon boy and girl!
If human mirth and love be not some sign
                    Of share in things divine!”

Edith Matilda Thomas

Friday, 18 December 2015

Book Review: So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighbourhood by Patrick Modiano workings of the mind are mysterious and our memory isn’t always very reliable, especially about childhood. Some people recall their early years vividly and in great detail, while others seem to remember hardly anything. Moreover, the bits and pieces that have lasted in our minds for many years often turn out to be shockingly incomplete, blurred or even alienated past the recognition of others who were present too. Some memories are so painful that they are downright repressed: access denied until… This is the experience that an ageing novelist makes in So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighbourhood by Patrick Modiano, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2014. When a man steps into his life to return his lost address book, he rouses the ghosts of childhood asking after a person whose long outdated number is in it.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

New on Lagraziana's Kalliopeion: Kim by Rudyard Kipling Boy and a Red Lama on the Diamond Way:
Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Worldwide most reading lists for children contain at least one book written by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 1907 “in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author”. Without doubt...

Monday, 14 December 2015

Poetry Revisited: Am Grischtdaag – At Christmas by Calvin Ziegler

Am Grischtdaag

(aus Drauss un Deheem: 1891/1936)

Sis Grischtdaag.
 Die ganz Welt iwwer
Frei die Leit sich sehr,
Un alles is harrlich, as wann der Daag
Vom Himmel gelosse waer.

Ich hock allee in mei Zimmer
Un denk so iwwer die Zeit -
Wie der Geischt vun Grischt sich immer
Weider un weider ausbreid:

Un wie heit in yeder Famillye
Frehlich un gutes Mut
In die liewi aldi Heemet
Sich widder versammle dutt.

Ach widder deheem! Ach, Yammer! -
Net all! Deel sin yo heit
Zu weit vun uns ab zu kumme -
Fatt in de Ewichkeit.

Net all deheem! Verleicht awwer -
Unich behaap's kann sei -
Im Geischt sin mir all beisamme
Un griesse enanner uff's nei!

So sin mir vereenicht widder -
Loss die Zeit vergeb wiesie will;
Ich drink eich ein Gruss, ihr Brieder!
Verwas sitzt dir all so schtill?

Weit ab - iwwer Barig un Valley,
Un iwwer die Ewichkeit's Brick -
Vun eich Brieder all, wie Geischdeschall
Kummt mir Eier Gruss zerick.

(Charles) Calvin Ziegler

At Christmas

(from Outside and At Home: 1891/1936)

It's Christmas.
The whole world over
Everyone's filled with love,
And everything's joyful, as if the day
Was given from above.

I sit alone in my room
Thinking about the times -
How the spirit of Christ always
Wider and wider shines.

And how today all families
With much happiness embrace
As they gather once again
In the dear old home place.

All home again! Oh, not so! -
Not all! Some today in reality
Are far from us below -
Away in eternity!

Not all at home! Perhaps though -
And I insist I knew -
In the spirit we're all together
And greet each other anew.

So we are together again -
May the time go as it will,
I drink to you a toast, brothers!
Why do you all sit so still?

Far away - over valley and ridge,
And over the eternal bridge -
From you brothers, like a spiritual echo
Your greeting returns below.

Original Pennsylvania Dutch and English version retrieved from Poetry Soup

Friday, 11 December 2015

Book Review: Lake of Heaven by Ishimure Michiko life in overcrowded cities estranges society ever more from its roots, be they natural, cultural or spiritual. The consequence is that many people are discontent although they have everything they could wish and hope for. They suffer feeling empty, lost and out of place. Looking for a way to salvation, some become easy prey for self-appointed preachers who offer ready-made instructions for everybody leading to quick as well as lasting peace of mind. Others are luckier. Fate pushes them into a situation that allows them to get back in touch with their souls and to restore their natural bond with the world. In Lake of Heaven by Ishimure Michiko the protagonist travels to the place where his late grandfather grew up to scatter his ashes over the old family grave and finds a fading world still in harmony with nature and local culture.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

New on Lagraziana's Kalliopeion: Helen by Maria Edgeworth Novel – Almost – Like A Fairy Tale:
Helen by Maria Edgeworth

As an English-Irish woman writer Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849) was among the first to earn general recognition in the world of literature. Her novels were bestsellers at the time, but  her star began to fade as soon as Jane Austen...

Monday, 7 December 2015

Poetry Revisited: Winter Sleep by Elinor Wylie

Winter Sleep

(from Nets to Catch the Wind: 1921)

When against earth a wooden heel
Clicks as loud as stone on steel,
When stone turns flour instead of flakes,
And frost bakes clay as fire bakes,
When the hard-bitten fields at last
Crack like iron flawed in the cast,
When the world is wicked and cross and old,
I long to be quit of the cruel cold.

Little birds like bubbles of glass
Fly to other Americas,
Birds as bright as sparkles of wine
Fly in the nite to the Argentine,
Birds of azure and flame-birds go
To the tropical Gulf of Mexico:
They chase the sun, they follow the heat,
It is sweet in their bones, O sweet, sweet, sweet!
It's not with them that I'd love to be,
But under the roots of the balsam tree.

Just as the spiniest chestnut-burr
Is lined within with the finest fur,
So the stoney-walled, snow-roofed house
Of every squirrel and mole and mouse
Is lined with thistledown, sea-gull's feather,
Velvet mullein-leaf, heaped together
With balsam and juniper, dry and curled,
Sweeter than anything else in the world.

O what a warm and darksome nest
Where the wildest things are hidden to rest!
It's there that I'd love to lie and sleep,
Soft, soft, soft, and deep, deep, deep!

Elinor Wylie

Friday, 4 December 2015

Book Review: The Angry Hills by Leon Uris is a dangerous trade, especially in times of – hot or cold – war, but not everybody deliberately chooses to enter it. Sometimes, above all in novels, outsiders get mixed up in intelligence work more or less by accident like Graham Greene’s Jim Wormold, the Englishman living in Cuba before Fidel Castro, who is recruited as a spy against his will (»»» read my review of Our Man in Havana) or the middle-aged American protagonist of The Angry Hills by Leon Uris who at first doesn’t even know that Greek resistance against Nazi Germany and British Secret Service have chosen him as unsuspicious and ignorant courier. What starts for the “bread-and-butter” writer Mike Morrison as an innocent business trip to Greece to transfer family money to the USA just in time before war will prevent it turns into a flight from invading German troops and Nazi spies hunting after a sealed envelope containing secret information.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

New on Lagraziana's Kalliopeion: Liliom by Molnár Ferenc

The Incorrigible Innocent Rogue:
Liliom by Molnár Ferenc

On Austrian stages including the famous Burgtheater in Vienna, Liliom by celebrated Hungarian playwright Molnár Ferenc (1878-1952; better known here as Franz Molnár) keeps being one of the most regularly performed plays from the early years of the twentieth century. First put on the stage of...