The word on this one (and the word is truth in this case) is that it's not only offensive, it's also just not very good at all in any respect. The wriThe word on this one (and the word is truth in this case) is that it's not only offensive, it's also just not very good at all in any respect. The writing, the art, etc. leave much to be desired. Hergé himself was embarrassed by much of this book and it's not considered, really, part of the Tintin canon. Actually worse than the first Tintin book, In the Land of the Soviets. Only for the Tintin completist. ...more
Cohen's prose is generous yet contained, and so exquisitely evocative and sensual that reading The Favourite Game in a short period of time, as I did,Cohen's prose is generous yet contained, and so exquisitely evocative and sensual that reading The Favourite Game in a short period of time, as I did, in just over five hours, begins to feel much like the hours-long embrace of passionate young lovers, punctuated by fevered outbursts of raw sexuality. Putting the book down, at its end, feels like one last tight hug and tender kiss at a door, before the young lovers lose one another for an unthinkable, no matter how short, time.
The easy way to talk about Cohen's debut novel is to speak of it as somewhat autobiographical. While Cohen and Breavman may share several details of their lives, it's just not very useful to concentrate on such things while talking about this novel. Breavman may not be a very likable character, and Cohen frequently writes him in a sort of wistfully satirical tone, less viciously critical than regretfully sad, but he is a complex and rich character. The novel, though mostly written in a third-person voice, also seems to be mostly from the perspective of Breavman, and as such, the oddly... biased? One-dimensional? characterization of most of the other characters in The Favourite Game makes logical and emotional sense.
The obvious comparisons to Catcher in the Rye and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man aren't misguided, but they're still pointless. Does it matter that Breavman is similar to Caulfield, except more grown up for much of this novel's length? Do we have to compare this book to the most well-known example of its genre? These comparisons weaken the case for The Favourite Game to be taken seriously in its own right as an important debut novel and not the side project of a poet who moonlit as a novelist in the 1960's.
Indeed, outside of Canada, this novel doesn't appear to be widely studied at all. It has a lot of interesting things to say, indirectly and not confrontationally, about issues of Canadian identity and character, and remains astonishingly relevant and true so many years after it was written. It remains one of the great urban Canadian novels in a literary scene so famed and praised for its rural literature, a literature which denies the reality of (by far) most Canadians' lives. Still, much of the novel is universal in its relevance. The emphasis on ethnic identity, the sensuality, the obsessions which take over Brevman's poetic psychology are all cross-cultural. Montreal Jews in the fifties may well be a number of other ethnic groups in a number of other places. Breavman's sexuality and his obsessions are nakedly, brazenly put into words by Cohen. It is one of the most honest novels around about what goes through the minds of young men. All of the silliness and stupidity of these thoughts, the rationalized vulgarity, the brazen animal sexuality tempered by social expectations.
While Breavman's characterization is reasonably captivating, especially in the character's balancing act between tendencies to destruction and preservation, and Cohen maintains a very high level of authorial craftsmanship throughout the novel, what I keep coming back to in my head is the prose, which is why I think that anyone who hasn't read this novel ought to read it. If written by a less confident and talented author, The Favourite Game may not have been all that good. The substance of the novel is only as good as its expression, especially in this case, where Cohen's stupid honesty and sincerity threatens frequently to fall into self-parody and unsuitable ridiculousness, but always stays on the right side of that line, even during Breavman's frequent praisings of the thighs of his lovers, or his fevered archaeological excavations of his lovers' bodies. Oh, and the book's pretty funny, too....more
An absolutely exhilarating read. Reading propositions 6.4 thru 7 is a mind-bending intellectual experience, and yes, that is exactly where WittgensteiAn absolutely exhilarating read. Reading propositions 6.4 thru 7 is a mind-bending intellectual experience, and yes, that is exactly where Wittgenstein gets strangely mystical. But that is also where Wittgenstein shows that he can make even mysticism seem compelling and actually reasonable. It is also where the debate over the Tractatus' ultimate meaning emerges. The last statement before the famous closer: "what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence" is, in true Wittgensteinian manner, both profoundly clear and profoundly puzzling. I would go as far as to say that this notion of transcendence in 6.54 must ground every discussion of what the Tractatus is about and how it relates to later Wittgenstein works, and especially Philosophical Investigations.
But regardless of the larger picture of the book's point, the Tractatus is nevertheless fascinating even though wrong. Wittgenstein's writings on logic and mathematics lack the sexiness associated with the opening and closing sections of the book (and those are the sections that the book is famous for outside of philosophy departments), but are profound and remarkable pieces of philosophical work.
Most of the Tractatus is brilliant, philosophically. It is a seriously important work, and a fascinating one. Its wrongness does not reduce it to a work of no value. Read it at the risk of it taking over your life.
Few works of philosophy, correct or incorrect, are more compelling and mesmerizing than this, which despite being wrong still contains nuggets of capital-T Truth. One of those few works is Philosophical Investigations, but that, after all, is the greatest work in philosophy, and maybe the best book ever written in or outside of that realm. ...more