It's quite illuminating to see how the family managed to construct Jane Austen. Having Kathryn Sutherland's introduction and explanatory notes to go w...moreIt's quite illuminating to see how the family managed to construct Jane Austen. Having Kathryn Sutherland's introduction and explanatory notes to go with this added a much-needed academic layer of reflection on the Memoir, as it allows for more critical distance with the text. It did shape much of Jane Austen's historical reception, after all...(less)
This book detailing the life of a Somalian girl who becomes a topmodel is quite fascinating. The way she, with her nomadic upbringing, experiences lif...moreThis book detailing the life of a Somalian girl who becomes a topmodel is quite fascinating. The way she, with her nomadic upbringing, experiences life in the "Western world" offer quite a different view on what, for me, is quite normal: the importance of time, for instance. However the book is not just about that; it also deals with the heavy subject of Female Genital Mutilation, the reasons and effects of it, showing how it has been for her.
Desert Flower is a quick read that will keep you turning the pages as you get sucked into Waris Dirie's story - her happiness, her confusion, her fears, her pain and her bitterness. The writing is nothing special, foregrounding the story; the style has something naive about it, but for the sake of the story I will forgive it. Because Waris Dirie's story has something special to it: it is truly inspiring with how much strength this woman has come to a place in life from which she can fight for what she deems important - that Female Genital Mutilation should stop, immediately. I can only commend her on the task she's set herself.(less)
I'll have to preface this "review" (I don't think my bookly blurbs actually deserve that title, but whatever) by saying that reading this biography wa...moreI'll have to preface this "review" (I don't think my bookly blurbs actually deserve that title, but whatever) by saying that reading this biography was interesting for me. It's highly readable and takes into account a lot of facts, it seems.
I can't help it, though, that overall Jon Spence's biography feels more mainstream than something that could be academically usable. He presents his own speculation and interpretation about Jane Austen's life as if it were the truth, going so far as to talk about Jane Austen's feelings at a certain moment in time in indicative rather than conjunctive, assuming an authority over her life which he cannot have. The links he establishes between Austen's writing and Tom Lefroy's influence seem, at times, willful and far-fetched, something he'd like there to have been instead of something that might actually have been. Plus his way of reading Austen's writing as entirely autobiographically inspired bothers me, especially after he quotes someone who says her inspiration does not come from her surroundings, at least not to the degree that Spence seems to find.
Okay, I'm sorry, I'm starting to write myself into indignation. To end this: I can understand how this is the basis for the 2007 feature film Becoming Jane. Becoming Jane Austen is more fanon than canon.(less)
This series of sketches of the people and places of Marrakesh in the 50s is at times lyrical and often strange. The book depicts Elias Canetti's impre...moreThis series of sketches of the people and places of Marrakesh in the 50s is at times lyrical and often strange. The book depicts Elias Canetti's impressions of the city as he travelled there, which are always fascinating; Canetti has a voice for capturing the unconventional and, likewise, the reader with these impressive snapshots of much perceptive immediacy. His use of words often adds an otherworldly note to the scenes and at the same time shows a knack for calling the happenings to life. Especially the almost acoustic dimension of the narrative is noteworthy, as the title suggests.
Canetti's attitude towards the Arabian world is definitely not up to today's standard - a certain amount of patronising supremacy does come across while perusing the book, but I feel I can forgive him for it: Canetti is a child of his time, and his account is simply beautiful, offering a view on how 'Other' this place must have felt for someone who didn't have any information on where he was going to travel beforehand.(less)