Not sure why I had this on my to-read list, I suspect it was included in another listing of strange Victorian literature or that descriptions of the b...moreNot sure why I had this on my to-read list, I suspect it was included in another listing of strange Victorian literature or that descriptions of the book were mysterious and adventurous. It mostly interesting to me because of when it was written and the biases and shortcomings of the writer’s thought. The description of the landscape and lands in which the story takes place piques one’s curiosity; but the whole millennium-old love story was a real downer. (less)
A little word about the actual book I read. I had purchased it from a sidewalk sale in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco. It is one of those ol...moreA little word about the actual book I read. I had purchased it from a sidewalk sale in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco. It is one of those old classic hardcover library series and the cover had been stabbed a number of times. The stabs are so deep that a few pierce at least 60 pages into the novel. And just for good measure, there a few stabs on the back cover too. I cannot think of why a previous reader would be so vexed to attack this book, the story at times was very frustrating, but not enough (for me) to puncture the book.
A few words about the story: reading this I realized how lucky I am to live now as opposed to then (19th C). The lack of agency, the lack of education, the lack of opportunities, the oppressive social strictures- all very depressing, especially for a woman. The second item that came to mind while reading this is my awareness that novels written around this time and earlier are not so much representatives of reality, but ideas. None of these early novels are realistic in plot, but are concepts being worked out by the writer. For the contemporary reader, some of the plot events may seem ridiculous, but knowing that the plot is a structure to show a thought, may make it more palatable. In this novel, Hardy uses the plot to reveal some of the hypocrisy of religion and its detrimental effects on individuals. Tess is a stand-in for a natural spirituality, one based on the land and looks upon a person as naturally good. While Angel Clare represents man’s intellect in revolt of Christianity, however, despite his rebellion, his morality is still shaped by the religion. The dairy farm is their Eden and the subsequent fall results in Tess going through purgatory (working at the farm in Flintcomb-Ash) while Clare works out the kinks of his personal philosophy in the wonderfully heathen country of Brazil. The crime Tess does commit is greater than the act she was judged for and all ends in tragedy for her- just to make sure you get the point.
Of course, there are other themes throughout the novel that one can delve into and write papers about- hence why the classics have such a long shelf life. Overall, Tess is a pretty enjoyable read that reels you in with sympathy for the characters and although the novel plot is not realistic, the details get you close to inhabiting that place and time (Wessex England). (less)
I read this book a few years ago and while I was reading it I was thinking- why read this? I rather disliked it- reading it was torture. I understand...moreI read this book a few years ago and while I was reading it I was thinking- why read this? I rather disliked it- reading it was torture. I understand that it being published in 1935, that it is an allegory of the irrationality and violence that overcame Europe between the two world wars. However now, the minute parade of grotesqueries is excessive. It is also perhaps the only book I know where the repulsion and malice the author has for his characters and for his work is so pulsatingly palpable. If someone were to tell me that Canetti was an absolute misanthropist, I would not be surprised. Anyway, after a few years of puzzling this book out, I found the perfect review from NYRB:
I was flagged, I guess quoting from an article is a no-no according to GoodReads, so you will have to go to the link to read it yourself, which is sad because I don't think many people will look at the link and the quote was really entertaining. I can't even imagine why anyone would be so up-in-arms. It was obviously a quote, as I italicized it and put quote lines. But I guess there are readers of reviews who's only interest in life is to flag other reviews. So fitting, considering the book, I hope you feel important, good day. (less)
When I was 11 or so, my father received a pile of paperback, from whom or why, I never knew. The paperbacks lined up on a shelf in the basement guestr...moreWhen I was 11 or so, my father received a pile of paperback, from whom or why, I never knew. The paperbacks lined up on a shelf in the basement guestroom. During the summers, I would be stuck at home without access to books, so I started to read the paperbacks. They were for adults and covered grown-up themes. I remember most of the books: Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oats; Goodbye, Janette by Harold Robbins; Cashelmara by Susan Howatch; Falling in Place by Anne Beattie; and this book, Ragtime. There may have been another book, but I do not remember. I read these books over and over during the summer for a few years until I was able to get my hands on some other books.
As an adult, I noticed that Ragtime was often on top 100 novel lists, so I thought to myself, I will re-read this book, (or really finally read it) since I could not remember anything about it from my juvenile reads. So that day came. When I started reading this book, certain memories started coming back to me from the dark depths of forgotten books plots buried deep in my mind. I remembered that the main family of which the book’s plot swings around have no names. They are called: Father, Mother, Grandfather, Younger Brother.
Now, I can see why I did not remember much of this book, I think I just didn’t get it. It has a pretty complicated plot based around 1902 and involves historical characters such Houdini, Emma Goldman, J.P. Morgan, and more. The family is a stand in for typical white American values and its intersection with the changing history around it. The emerging minorities, labor uprising, women’s rights, etc.
It takes a lifetime wresting with becoming an adult, facing the complex world and its changing center of meaning to get this book. The conflicts that come up are not that far from where are here, over a hundred years later. This was an enjoyable read, I don’t think I can say the same for the rest of those other paperbacks that were on that shelf. I actually felt sad in the end. Now I can check off this book from the 100s lists and not feel guilty. (less)
There are many very good essays and reviews written about this book, I could not possibly say anything to add, see three good links at the bottom of m...moreThere are many very good essays and reviews written about this book, I could not possibly say anything to add, see three good links at the bottom of my “review”. I can only speak of my experience, which I suppose is why goodreads exists, to capture our fleeting reading life in hopes of sharing it with a few good allies and perhaps to be a memory jostler in the future. I find it helpful to read what little lines of thoughts of a book I have read years back, to remember and to re-think of what I feel about it now, which was the future. II also wish I took better notes on how I was inspired to read a book, I could create a lovely conceptual map of how books come to my attention, but alas, I need to pay better attention.
The Leopard was a book that has been knocking around my bookscape for sometime, I suspect the final push was an article in the NYRB, but I cannot say for certain. I brought this book along on a trip to Paris, thinking that it would be dense and heavy and it would be fitting for sleepless, jetlagged nights. I was wrong. Although written around the 1950s, the novel takes place in Sicily @ 1860, chronicalling the royal family of Salina’s descent; it is novel of memory, nostalgia and loss. I was intimidated and anticipated that it would be stuffy and a bit old-fashioned, but The Leopard is quite a treasure. I was struck by the lucidity of the writing, not baroque, but poetically descriptive and touched with humor. The characters were written so humanely that I was sad to leave them at the end. And the story is a good balance of relationships and of the political environment of Sicily and Italy at that pivotal time before unification. It was a joy to read and a sadness to finish reading. PS. pay attention to the dog.
I borrowed this book from the library, but after reading it I will definitely purchase it and read it again. I have read The Castle, but I feel I need...moreI borrowed this book from the library, but after reading it I will definitely purchase it and read it again. I have read The Castle, but I feel I need to read that again as well. It's a compelling coincidence that I while I was reading the Trial; I was also reading many articles regarding Guantanamo (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21794).
The Trial begins with Joseph K. (the main character) arrested in his home by some unknown authoritarian entity for some unspecified transgression. The whole process is never made known nor is the reasons for the arrest. Sound familiar?
It is pretty amazing that Kafka was writing this around 1914 and that he was able to foresee the fascistic bureaucratic machinery which came to power in the 1920s and that still exists up to this day. There are many levels within this book and I feel I've only touched upon the most obvious, it bears repeated readings. Between the dreamlike aspects of the plot coupled with the exact quality of the prose reveal Kafka as a master writer who deserves his great reputation. (less)
Alot easier to read than Ulysses. Read it for a class- most remembered scene- a comparison of a woman and a heron, standing in water: sexual feeling,...moreAlot easier to read than Ulysses. Read it for a class- most remembered scene- a comparison of a woman and a heron, standing in water: sexual feeling, epiphany. yadda, yadda, yadda(less)
I guess if I had to chose for "my team" between Marquez & Allende, I would choose Marquez; only because I remember his books better. But truthfull...moreI guess if I had to chose for "my team" between Marquez & Allende, I would choose Marquez; only because I remember his books better. But truthfully, I would rather have Borges on my team.(less)