Friday, 31 January 2020

Book Review: Industrial Park by Patrícia Galvão
The steadily growing divide between rich and poor isn’t a new phenomenon, or else Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would never have had reason to write the Communist Manifest and the blood-soaked October Revolution of 1917 might never have massacred the Russian Tsar along with his family to put the idealistic principles of Marxism into practice. During the first decades of the new regime, people worldwide dreamt of following the country’s example unawares of the fact that Lenin, Stalin and their likes turned their egalitarian Soviet utopia into the dystopian oligarchy, even monocracy of totalitarian Bolshevik leaders. Set in the working-class district Brás in São Paulo, Brazil, the proletarian novel Industrial Park by Patrícia Galvão, first published under the pseudonym Mara Lobo in 1933, shows the daily struggles of women who have to cope not just with cutthroat capitalism but also with machismo. The communists among them call for fight…

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

*New* Decade Challenge 2020 @ 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 2020

12 Volumes of Representative Fiction
from 120 and 1 Years of World Literature

– planned and completed –
(subject to change)

1900-09: Robert Walser: The Assistant (1908), original German title: Der Gehülfe
1910-19: Tormay Céline: The Old House (1914), original Hungarian title: A Régi ház
1920-29: José Eustasio Rivera: The Vortex (1924), original Spanish title: La vorágine
1930-39: Patrícia Galvão: Industrial Park (1933), original Brazilian Portuguese title: Parque industrial 
1940-49: Ivo Andrić: Bosnian Chronicle (1945), original Croatian title: Travnička hronika
1950-59: Hayashi Fumiko: Floating Clouds (1951), original Japanese title: 浮雲
1960-69: Giuseppe Dessì: The Deserter (1961), original Italian title: Il disertore
1970-79: Sevgi Soysal: Noontime in Yenişehir (1973), original Turkish title: Yenişehir'de Bir Öğle Vakti
1980-89: Hwang Sok-yong: Shadow of Arms (1985), original Korean title: 무기의 그늘
1990-99: Olga Tokarczuk: House of Day, House of Night (1998), original Polish title: Dom dzienny, dom nocny
2000-09: Samrat Upadhyay: The Guru of Love (2003)
2010-19: Emmi Itäranta: Memory of Water (2013), original Finnish title: Teemestarin kirja

Monday, 27 January 2020

Poetry Revisited: Midwinter Thaw by Sir Charles G. D. Roberts

Midwinter Thaw

(from Songs of the Common Day and AVE!: 1893)

How shrink the snows upon this upland field,
          Under the dove-grey dome of brooding noon!
          They shrink with soft reluctant shocks, and soon
In sad brown ranks the furrows lie revealed.
From radiant cisterns of the frost unsealed
          Now wakes through all the air a watery rune—
          The babble of a million brooks atune,
In fairy conduits of blue ice concealed.

Noisy with crows, the wind-break on the hill
          Counts o'er its buds for summer. In the air
Some shy foreteller prophesies with skill—
          Some voyaging ghost of bird, some effluence rare;
And the stall-wearied cattle dream their fill
          Of deep June pastures where the pools are fair.

Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts (1860-1943)
Canadian poet and writer

Friday, 24 January 2020

Bookish Déjà-Vu: Vienna by Eva Menasse

Austria in the 1930s was no bed of roses. Neither people, nor economy had fully recovered from World War One and its aftermaths, when the Great Depression pushed people back into misery and despair. Many destitute gladly accepted the Jewish scapegoat offered to them eloquently by know-all busybodies. In Germany, Hitler and his National Socialists took advantage of the general feeling to be elected into Parliament and to shape the country according to their ideas – dictatorship, holocaust and war included. In Austria, a declaredly Christian Austrofascist regime seized power in an attempt to ward off National Socialism, but Germany annexed the country in March 1938 and turned upside-down the lives retold in Vienna by Eva Menasse, another one of my bookish déjà-vus. The novelised seventy years of true family history begin with the birth of the author’s father to a mixed Catholic-Jewish couple in the Austrian capital in spring 1930…
Read my review »

Monday, 20 January 2020

Poetry Revisited: Winter by Frances Anne Kemble


(from Poems: 1859)

I saw him on his throne, far in the North,
Him ye call Winter, picturing him ever
An aged man, whose frame with palsied shiver
Bends o’er the fiery element, his foe.
But him I saw was a young god whose brow
Was crown’d with jagged icicles, and forth
From his keen spirit-like eyes there shone a light
Broad, glaring, and intensely cold and bright.
His breath, like sharp-edged arrows, pierced the air ;
The naked earth crouched shuddering at his feet ;
His finger on all murmuring waters sweet
Lay icily, motion nor sound was there;
Nature seem’d frozen dead; and still and slow
A winding sheet fell o’er her features fair,
Flaky and white from his white wings of snow.

Frances Anne Kemble (1809-1893)
British actress and writer

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Back Reviews Reel: January 2017

Regarding reviewed books, the first month of 2017 was extremely varied as prove my archives. Between the covers of two contemporary and two classical novels, I found people trying to understand their surroundings. There was the Austrian woman in Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap who reconstructed her late parents’ lives before, during and after World War II to fathom their true characters. A young Spanish restorer of paintings discovered a century-old chess riddle in The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte and found herself drawn into a murderous search of the truth. The Japanese boy in The River With No Bridge by Sumii Sué learnt in the years before World War I that his family origins alone sufficed to make others hate and discriminate him. And finally, a German architect looked back on his own, his family’s and his country’s past in Billiards at Half Past Nine by Heinrich Böll.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Poetry Revisited: Dirge for the Year by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Dirge for the Year

(from Posthumous Poems: 1824)

Orphan hours, the year is dead;
          Come and sigh, come and weep;
Merry hours smile instead,
          For the year is but asleep:
See, it smiles as it is sleeping,
Mocking your untimely weeping.

As an earthquake rocks a corse
          In its coffin in the clay,
So white Winter, that rough nurse,
          Rocks the dead-cold year to-day.
Solemn hours ! wail aloud
For your mother in her shroud.

As the wild air stirs and sways
          The tree-swung cradle of a child,
So the breath of these rude days
          Rocks the year: be calm and mild,
Trembling hours; she will arise
With new love within her eyes.

January grey is here,
          Like a sexton by her grave;
February bears the bier,
          March with grief doth howl and rave;
And April weeps but, O ye hours!
Follow with May's fairest flowers.

January 1, 1821

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
English Romantic poet

Friday, 10 January 2020

Bookish Déjà-Vu: The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman by Andrzej Szczypiorski

National Socialism brought the horrors of totalitarianism, race hatred and war virtually all over Europe, but without doubt, Poland was one of the places where it showed its evil face most clearly. Many of the Jewish ghettos and German concentration camps were on occupied Polish territory and the war swept over the country first eastwards, then back westwards. Moreover, there was the well-organised and strong Polish Resistance giving the occupants a hard life and the prosecuted every possible support. Thanks to the excellent forged papers provided by it and to her model Aryan looks, the protagonist of The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman by Andrzej Szczypiorski, which I picked as a bookish déjà-vu, managed to escape sure deportation from Warsaw for years. When an old acquaintance and Jewish informer crosses her way and hands her over to the Nazi authorities to save his own skin, the Resistance comes to her rescue again…

Read my review »

Monday, 6 January 2020

Poetry Revisited: En la festividad de los Santos Reyes – On the Feast of the Holy Kings by St. Teresa of Avila

En la festividad
de los Santos Reyes

(de Obras de Sta Teresa de Jesús,
Tomo VI: 1919)

Pues la estrella
es ya llegada,
vaya con los Reyes
la mi manada.

Vamos todas juntas
a ver el Mesías,
pues vemos cumplidas
ya las profecías.
Pues en nuestros días,
es ya llegada,
vaya con los Reyes
la mi manada.

Llevémosle dones
de grande valor,
pues vienen los Reyes,
con tan gran hervor.
Alégrese hoy
nuestra gran Zagala,
vaya con los Reyes
la mi manada.

No cures, Llorente,
de buscar razón,
para ver que es Dios
aqueste garzón.
Dale el corazón,
y yo esté empeñada:
vaya con los Reyes
la mi manada.

Santa Teresa de Jesús (1515-1582),
nombre secular Teresa Sánchez
de Cepeda Dávila y Ahumada
monja, mística y esritora española

On the Feast
of the Holy Kings

(from Works of St. Teresa of Avila,
Volume VI: 1919)

Now that the star
Has aready arrived,
Go With the Kings
My flock.

Let’s go all together
To see the Messiah,
Now that we see fulfilled
Already the prophecies.
Now that in our days
It has already arrived,
Go With the Kings
My flock.

Let’s bring him presents
Of great Worth,
Now that the Kings are coming
With such great surge.
Today she rejoices
Our great young girl,
Go With the Kings
My flock.

Don’t bother, Llorente,
To search a reason,
To see that it’s God
This young boy.
Give him the heart
And I be indebted:
Go With the Kings
My flock.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582),
secular name Teresa Sánchez
de Cepeda Dávila y Ahumada
Spanish nun, mystic and writer

Literal translation:
© Edith Lagrazaiana 2020

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

2020 Reading Challenges

Happy New Year! So here we are again at the beginning of a year, even of a new decade this time. Let’s hope that it will have many literary treats – contemporary and classical – in store for us! On Edith’s Miscellany I intend to take things easier in 2020 although my reading list is just as full as usual. I’ve already made my preliminary choice of twenty-six books to review in the odd weeks to come, but if I feel like it I might present the one or other additional one in an even week. As for reading challenges, I decided to sign up again for one that I did already a few times and to continue with the posts for the perpetual one that I’ve been in since 2014. Otherwise, I’ll fill my lines, i.e. I’ll see to it that by the end of the year there will be just as many female as male authors for every letter of the alphabet in my all-time review list.

In 2020, I’m participating in the *New* Decade Challenge of the GOODREADS Bookcrossers Group for the third time in a row. My plan for the next twelve months is to read for it 12 Volumes of Representative Fiction from 120 and 1 Years of World Literature starting in the early 1900s through the decade that has just ended. As usual, I’ll have an eye on linguistic diversity choosing books originally written in twelve different languages although I’m afraid that most of them will come from European countries, after all. Literature from other cultures isn’t always easy to get hereabouts, even less in English translation, but I’ll do my best. And of course, I’ll post my book reviews on Edith’s Miscellany and teasers on GOODREADS.

»»» follow my progress on my reading list for 12 Volumes of Representative Fiction from 120 and 1 Years of World Literature or with the GOODREADS Bookcrossers Group.

The perpetual reading challenge that I mentioned above is called Read the Nobels. Aloi aka the Guiltless Reader has been hosting it for years with the declared aim to give the writings of the now 116 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature more attention. It’s really a pity that I’m almost the only one left who still posts review duplicates on the Read the Nobels blog. On my own list of en-NOBEL-ed writers, I’ve already ticked off the names of half of the laureates… which leaves me the other half still to discover or to get back to as in the case of Ernest Hemingway or Henryk Sienkiewicz respectively. I expect to read books from the pens of at least four more of them by the end of this 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.