It is clear to me now what the modern European politicians are doing wrong. They are, obviously, not reading their classics.
Europe is in the midst of...moreIt is clear to me now what the modern European politicians are doing wrong. They are, obviously, not reading their classics.
Europe is in the midst of a dire financial crisis with all sorts of complicated schemes being proposed to resolve the situation. And here we have a practical and sensible solution that nobody appears to have considered, despite the fact that it has been around since 1729!
If you don't have enough money to feed your kids, EAT THEM!
What could be simpler?
Now, the author mentions that this is a solution devised specifically in the context of Ireland. And I admit that the calculations will need to be re-done to reflect the demographics and circumstances at hand. But really, there is no logical reason why this solution would not work in the context of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
Somebody needs to send this to the Greeks.
Certain celebrities have already endorsed the idea:
Narrator: Damn, this house is creepy. *checks out reflection of the house in a pond* Yep, still creepy. I...more**spoiler alert** Here's my abridged version:
Narrator: Damn, this house is creepy. *checks out reflection of the house in a pond* Yep, still creepy. I'm here to see a school friend, Roderick Usher. He's rich and aristocratic. Here he is. Oh dear, he's a bit weird looking at the best of times but now he looks like shit. He's probably an alcoholic or an opium fiend.
Usher: I am sick. I suffer from a morbid acuteness of the senses. I'm gonna DIE. I also believe that the house is sentient. My twin sister Madeline is sick too. She's wasting away and has bouts of catalepsy and there are rumours that we are lovers. Here she is gliding past like a ghost. *bursts into tears*
Narrator and Usher: *spend several days painting, reading and playing guitar.*
Narrator: That dude seriously needs to cheer up.
Usher: *sings "Haunted Palace* Yo, my sister is dead. But because I know she has catalepsy which could mean she is alive after all, I am going to put her in a vault for two weeks, instead of burying her straight away.
Narrator and Usher: *put Madeline in a vault, making sure to screw the coffin lid down and secure the metal gates*
Several days later...
Narrator: Usher is not taking this at all well and I am starting to get creeped out. It's a dark and stormy night and I can't sleep, so I'm going to go for a wander. *bumps into Usher* Dude, it's too creepy for you to be wandering around in your mental state. I'm going to read a book to you instead. *reads "Mad Trist"*
*weird noises* *screaming*
Usher: *mutters like a maniac* She is alive. I've been hearing her for days.
Madeline: *appears, bloody and emaciated, and falls on top of Usher with a cry*
I read this on my way home from work and it totally made me cry in front o...moreRecommended in Flannery's review which has a link to pdf and audio versions.
I read this on my way home from work and it totally made me cry in front of a bunch of complete strangers. It's a very short story, 15-odd pages, but it has quite the emotional punch. And it manages to fit so many themes too in its meager number of lines. It is about roots, heritage, fitting in, conformity, familial love, mail order brides, bullying, the power of those we love to hurt the most, death and magic. A beautiful, simple and gentle story that I would never have come across, if it weren't for goodreads. (less)
This is a short story collection of nine fairy tales retold. These were certainly beautiful and gave a totally different perspective to some of the st...moreThis is a short story collection of nine fairy tales retold. These were certainly beautiful and gave a totally different perspective to some of the stories while keeping very close to the original with others. They read more like poetry than anything else.
I loved him the way it feels when you get hot wax on the inside of your wrist and while it's burning, just as sudden, it's a cool thick skin. Like it tastes to eat sweet snow, above the daffodil bulbs - not that I've ever found it, but clean snow that melts to nothing on the heat of your tongue so that you aren't even sure if it was ever there. I loved him like spaniel joy at a scent in the grass - riveted, lost.
I'd sit around dreaming that the boys that I saw at shows or at work - the boys with silver earrings and big boots - would tell me that I was beautiful, take me home and feed me Thai food or omelettes and undress me and make love to me all night with the pale trees whispering windsongs about a tortured, gleaming city and the moonlight like flame melting our candle bodies.
She made him want to cry when he walked up the path through the ferns and doves and lilies and saw her covered with earth and dust and ash. Only her eyes shone out. Revealing, not reflecting. Windows. Her feet were bare. He wanted her to tell him the rest of the story. He felt bereft without it, without her. There were only these women with mirror eyes strutting across marble floors, tossing their manes, revealing their breasts, untouchable, only these tantalizing empty glass boxes full of dancing lights he could not hold, only these icy cubicles, parched yards, hard loneliness.
The problem was that with poetry, I have to feel it with my heart rather than my mind and, while I did think these were beautiful, I just didn't love them. I kept feeling like I wasn't really getting these stories and there is a bigger deeper more profound meaning to them that kept eluding me. A quick and interesting read but I doubt I will be coming back to them.(less)
I must have read this for school as a kid. I have definitely read it a very long time ago and I can't imagine I would have done so off my own back.
An...moreI must have read this for school as a kid. I have definitely read it a very long time ago and I can't imagine I would have done so off my own back.
Anyway. It is a fantastic piece of work, widely acknowledged to be one of the best Russian short stories ever written, if not The Best. I would highly recommend it whether you are already a lover of Russian literature or are just starting to explore it. The idea is simple enough, that every person, no matter how unattractive and inconsequential, deserves some compassion and understanding. Yet there is so much in the measly 50 odd pages of this story. Comedy, tragedy, social satire and even a ghost story. It is one of the very very few books which has managed to make me laugh and cry. The influence that it had on later writers such as Dostoyevsky (who famously stated that "We all come out of Gogol's Overcoat"), Turgenev, Tolstoy, Kafka and many others is undeniable.
It is a story about a "small person", a poor civil cervant who does not have any outstanding abilities, is not clever or ambitious, who is made fun of by his co-workers, but who is, essentially, harmless and who enjoys his mindless repetitive work. And it is a story about the stark impersonal casual cruelty with which the world treats such a person, about "...how much inhumanity there is in man, how much savage coarseness is concealed beneath refined, cultured, worldly civility...".
The Diary of a Madman is a short story about a man's descent into madness. The hero, Poprishchin, is a middle aged minor civil servant obsessed with S...moreThe Diary of a Madman is a short story about a man's descent into madness. The hero, Poprishchin, is a middle aged minor civil servant obsessed with Sophie, the young and beautiful daughter of his boss, a senior official who stands on a much higher rank of the social ladder. As he begins to slide into insanity, the hero believes that he can hear a conversation between Madgie, Sophie's dog, and another dog and later steals letters written by Madgie to the other dog. The extracts from these letters and the hero's reaction to them were particularly hilarious.
Realising that the object of his affection is in love with a handsomer, younger and richer man and having learned that a donna is about to accede to the Spanish throne as there is no male heir, the hero suddenly realises that he is, in fact, the lost heir and, unsurprisingly, ends up in an insane asylum.
Poprishchin as drawn by Ilya Repin:
Gogol manages to be absurd and hilarious, while at the same time making a point about the self-delusional vain ideas we have about ourselves, which is still very much relevant today, and drawing a clever satire of the deep social divisions and beurocracy in 19th century Russia. And all in less than 30 pages. (less)
Viy is a story written by Nikolai Gogol which is most often classified as horror. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with that classification, although...moreViy is a story written by Nikolai Gogol which is most often classified as horror. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with that classification, although it does feature a bumbling main character who comes to a sticky end at the hands of a bloodsucking witch and a horde of other demonic creatures. Gogol himself styled it as a folk tale re-telling.
The titular Viy is a creture of Ukrainian folklore, a demon in the form of an old man with his eyelids and brows reaching down to the ground. If the eyelids are lifted, nothing can hide from Viy's gaze and he is able to kill and destroy villages and whole towns with his eyes.
At the start of the story, three seminary students from Kyiv's Bratsky Monastery set off for home on their summer vacation. They veer off the main road to try to find shelter and something to eat for the night. They come across a remote farmstead where an old woman reluctantly lets them in but separates them to spend the night each in a different place. Khoma Brut, our main hero is put into an empty sheep pen and is just about to drop into a dead sleep when the old woman enters and all the fun begins.
Gogol's language is very rich and colourful and he has a particular gift for treating his characters with so much humour that even though most of the story happens in a dark church at night with the hero under attack by a dead body and other unpleasant things, it reads as a comedy.
I really enjoyed the story overall and would recommend it to anyone interested in the Ukrainian/Russian folklore, as well as any fan of Gogol. There is also a fantastic Russian film made in 1967 which is based on it, available on youtube with English subtitles. You can see the first part here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjiB6a...(less)
This is a short story about a woman's descent into madness and I have just the t-shirt slogan for the protagonist:
EXCUSE ME. I HAVE TO GO AND MAKE A S...moreThis is a short story about a woman's descent into madness and I have just the t-shirt slogan for the protagonist:
EXCUSE ME. I HAVE TO GO AND MAKE A SCENE.
Because that's what I wanted her to do throughout, but we cannot really expect that from a genteel 19th century lady and that is when the story was written. So does that mean that it is now outdated and irrelevant to us emancipated 21st century women?
Personally, I have gone through a period in my life when I took some pretty heavy drugs, stayed up all night staring at the walls (fortunately, not covered in hideous yellow paper) and writing random quotes and poetry on them and indulged in a spot of self-mutilation. I also went through a mild form of "baby blues" after my daughter was born, mainly just bursting into tears whenever anyone said boo to me. I don't know whether I was technically depressed (is there such a thing? I feel there must be, as opposed to just a naturally sad and gloomy person with a tendency for weirdness who is feeling down, which may, I feel, be my particular diagnosis or, maybe, the term I am looking for is medically?) but, in any case, I was expecting to relate.
And do you know what, I actually did. What I think worked brilliantly in this story, frighteningly so, is the description of how the protagonist loses her mind by concentrating on the wallpaper, following its patterns, imbuing them with meaning and projecting and externalising her own problems through it. As I said, I used to have a bit of a thing for walls myself (though, clearly, nowhere near to the extent of the heroine, as I am still a sane and functioning member of society, trust me) and I found this aspect of the story, extremely creepy, recognisable and accurate.
I could even relate to the submissiveness and the apathy, because I can clearly remember feeling exactly that in my lower moments. That feeling of being completely separate from the whole world and honestly not caring one way or the other, of wanting to just sit there and being too tired to really do or feel anything. The heroine here seems to recognise what is happening, that what her physician husband prescribes as the cure is really not good for her but doesn't really have the energy or the strength of will to stage any sort of opposition other than her little rebellion in writing the journal entries. And, as much as I wanted her to scream and rant and rave, what Gilman writes is actually a much more accurate description of my own experience of the apathy of depression.
I also admired the disjointed haunted way in which the story is constructed leaving the reader with multiple questions to ponder. Is she really going mad? Would she still be going mad if she were not confined to a room and lacking any physical and intellectual stimulation? Is her husband a sinister jailer or a loving spouse earnestly trying to help her? Is he even really her husband? And what happens at the end is anyone's guess. (view spoiler)[Some believe that she hangs herself but I'm not so sure as she talks about walking around the room with her shoulder to the wall, making the fade marks she mentions earlier, and having to step over the husband who is lying on the floor supposedly in a faint. Maybe, she kills him? (hide spoiler)]
P.S. While I thoroughly enjoyed this particular story and generally enjoy books and movies about descents into madness, I also find the proliferation of mad women in film and literature somewhat disquieting. I have not done any sort of comprehensive analysis but I have personally come across many more insane female characters than male. And the women never seem to go mad in quite the same way men do either because they are so clever (as in A Beautiful Mind)or so brave (as in the case of shell shock (which is, I think, a form of male hysteria, but hysteria was, clearly, a term that was too female to be applied to soldiers) in e.g. Catch-22) or because they actually think that they are turning into a woman (as in Memoirs of My Nervous Illness). The Yellow Paper made me want to read something academic on the subject of women and madness. If anyone is able to recommend anything good on this topic, I am open to suggestions.
P.P.S. I only read the title story, so this review and rating only relate to that. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book encapsulates everything I hate about the sanctimonious pontificating hypocritical nob (technical legal term) that is Leo Tolstoy. The premis...moreThis book encapsulates everything I hate about the sanctimonious pontificating hypocritical nob (technical legal term) that is Leo Tolstoy. The premise is so absurd it is laughable. What we have here is a religious manifesto promoting abstinence and castigating physical love by a man who spent a significant proportion of his life deflowering virgins and impregnating his wife.
It is a short story, so it would be petty to bemoan time spent on it, however, I do sincerely regret having ever picked it up. I read Anna Karenina and War and Peace when I was 16-17 and have always meant to re-read them when I was older and better able to appreciate the subject matter. Post-Kreutzer sonata, I am not sure I can take anything he writes seriously. A waste of letters. (less)
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is a short novella set in Russian province in the second half of 19th century. The subject matter is pretty powerful: passion,...moreLady Macbeth of Mtsensk is a short novella set in Russian province in the second half of 19th century. The subject matter is pretty powerful: passion, adultery, murder and betrayal. Yet, for all that, the book is very unsentimental and true to life. It is full of dark humour and the characters are very real and believable. It is a shame that it does not seem particularly well-known in the West, for it is, in my opinion, one of the best works in Russian literature.(less)