THE WORLD OF YESTERDAY by Stefan Zweig is a testament to the time between WWI and WWII, the life of the mind in Austria prior to Nazi occupation, andTHE WORLD OF YESTERDAY by Stefan Zweig is a testament to the time between WWI and WWII, the life of the mind in Austria prior to Nazi occupation, and the terrors visited on the citizens who ultimately fled the horrors of the time...in some tragic cases by their own hands.
This autobiography will challenge some current thinking on the first half of the 20th century with vivid details from a man more than capable of telling the story. Highest recommendation!
Read x 2; HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION! FAVORITE!...more
This is the story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens. Though married, Dickens was involved with Nelly from 1857 until his death in 1870. The love ofThis is the story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens. Though married, Dickens was involved with Nelly from 1857 until his death in 1870. The love of the great man would have seemed liberating when she was twenty, but during those thirteen years she became an unmarried woman nearing middle age, in delicate health, solitary and committed to a man who could not give her a respected position in his life or the steady companionship she desired.
When she was twenty-eight, her mother was sixty-five, and Dickens was fifty-five. The everyday pattern was to be available when Dickens wanted her, but in general she stayed put, awaited his visits and occupied herself by reading or pursuing a theatrical career.
The intensity of Dicken's feelings for her must have faded with age and familiarity, and his preference for her diminished behind the mystery of the relationship. Dickens did provide the opportunity to travel, promotional benefits for her acting career, and financial freedom, but the recognition of their feelings for one another was never made public.
Nelly was always THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, labeled the Fallen Woman in Victorian society. She may have felt freedom from the doomed role she played with Dickens, when upon his death, she was able to shed the fear of discovery and pregnancy which occupied her mind and encouraged her separation from her peers.
Tomalin's account is welcomed by followers of the great man, though little remains of Nelly's story except the truth that she lived invisibly for the remaining fifty years of her life.
"That words could cause something in the world, make someone move or stop, laugh or cry: even as a child he found it extraordinary and it never stoppe"That words could cause something in the world, make someone move or stop, laugh or cry: even as a child he found it extraordinary and it never stopped impressing him. How did words do that? Wasn't it like magic?" Pascal Mercier, pen name for Peter Bieri
This is the story of a man who loves words. Raimund Gregorius is a 57 year old Professor at a gymnasium in Bern, the same school he attended as a child. He has taught Greek, Latin and Hebrew for thirty years and is a man set in his ways. Divorced with no children, he lives alone in a drab apartment lined with books.
One morning, in the rain, on his well-traveled way to school, he is frightened by a young women on a bridge threatening to jump. When he saves her life, she writes a phone number on his forehead and says one word in Portuguese to him, Portugues.
Later that day he leaves his classroom unexpectantly and accepts a gift from a Spainish bookseller. It is a copy of a book written by a doctor whose words speak to him as if they were his own. Unable to read Portuguese, he spends the next few days translating "A Goldsmith of Words" by one Amadeu de Prado written in Lisbon in 1975.
By the next morning, he has bought a train ticket to Portugal. With a sacred text found, a new language undertaken, Gregorius begins an inward journey to a heightened awareness of his life.
"So the fear of death might be described as the fear of not being able to become whom one had planned to be."
Peter Bieri is a Swiss author and philosopher who teaches Philosophy in Berlin. This book in translation was a favorite in Europe when released in German in 2004. Bieri's talent lies, in my opinion, in combining ideas and plot. It is the power of words to change lives that is celebrated here, one that readers will recognize.
"There were people who read and there were the others. Whether you were a reader or a non-reader was soon apparent. There was no greater distinction between people." Peter Bieri
Shakespeare chose an intriguing title for this tense, complex and distressing story of a South American country assumed to be Peru in the 1980's and 9Shakespeare chose an intriguing title for this tense, complex and distressing story of a South American country assumed to be Peru in the 1980's and 90's. Although Colonel Rejas is focused on capturing the guerilla leader, Ezequiel, the author names the tale THE DANCER UPSTAIRS for a ballet teacher, a rather unusual, seemingly neutral character to magnify.
Yolanda, must be the heart of the book, then, so lets look at what she represnts in this suspenseful story. Rejas and Yolanda's relationship is a forbidden one. While the city is experiencing fear on every corner from corrupt governmental forces and terrorist's explosions, Rojas' wife, Sylvina focuses on sharing her makeup secrets with upper-class women. The relentless fear of blackouts, murders and kidnappings that the majority experience is absent from her thoughts.
Yolanda's natural beauty, in contrast, cannot be missed in a crowd though she offers no effort for approbation. She is terrified of the dark, traumatized by something in her past, and hesitant to reveal herself to Rojas. But he is attracted to her mystery and wants to resolve his feelings for her. Who could know at this point in the story how important a role she would play in novel's conclusion?
The story is told by two narrators. Rojas is recounting the grueling story of working in a corrupt police system to a foreign correspondent. Readers listen to the monumental struggle for power where it is difficult to tell the terrorists from the victims, and the collapse of a people is at stake. Rojas' idealism sustains him until the finale...but what will happen when he solves Yolanda's mystery?
Elegant storytelling about archetype characters in a Russian village with the theme of faith in God as the answer to mankind's cynicism, free will, trElegant storytelling about archetype characters in a Russian village with the theme of faith in God as the answer to mankind's cynicism, free will, treatment of others, redemption from personal and family moral decay and hope for eternity.
There is a sameness about war with extremes not experienced in civilian life. There are orders, usually followed without question with no time to rumiThere is a sameness about war with extremes not experienced in civilian life. There are orders, usually followed without question with no time to ruminate on options. Individual decisions, needs, and beliefs must meld with the whole, leaving warriors to ponder their behavior after the battle. Reason is blind as instinct prevails. Idealism pumps adrenalin, but reality rules. Motives are mixed, but all want to be heroes. Few are.
Most are longing for home and family, dead tired of privation, sickened by what they witness, and nililistic about the endeavor. Olympic rationalizations occur with medal presentations, exaggerations of efforts and celebatory victories.
It's been this way since man saw another as threatening, different, or just in the way. Sophocles' play Antigone is ancient, but in THE WATCH an encore starts the novel set in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Like the film, Rashemon, disperate views from soldiers follow.
But the result is the same...
I know that I must die, E'en hadst thou not proclaimed it; and if death Is thereby hastened, I shall count it gain. For death is gain to him whose life, like mine, Is full of misery. Thus my lot appears Not sad, but blissful; for had I endured To leave my mother's son unburied there, I should have grieved with reason, but not now.
Sophocles, Antigone Roy-Bhattacharya, The Watch
How many more renditions do we need? Recommended.
Thank you Hogarth for sending me a copy of THE WATCH by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, one of their 2012 inaugural list of new generation fiction writers....more
THE READER is a favorite book, one that I wanted to re-read for further revelations of WWII. Bernhard Schlink, a second generation German lawyer and aTHE READER is a favorite book, one that I wanted to re-read for further revelations of WWII. Bernhard Schlink, a second generation German lawyer and author of the Nazi era, has written an intimate legacy of guilt of the twelve years of Hitler's Third Reich. Second generation of guilt has to do with Schlink's personal relationships with his parents, Germany's law makers, and University professors. How did the most cultured country of Europe commit such atrocities?
Michael, a fifteen year old German schoolboy meets Hannah, a woman twice his age when he takes refuge in her courtyard after becoming violently ill. Hannah's help for Michael comes as almost an assault which previews their relationship and characterizes her history as a Nazi guard.
Hannah leaves Berlin with no explanation, but Michael sees her again during law school when he attends her trial for Nazi war crimes. Michael knows why she refuses to defend herself during the trial and resumes the role he played years before as her reader during her lengthy incarceration.
This is the story of guilt by entanglement, what you do with the knowledge of choices made by your family, your Country, and your institutions which lead to genocide and the death of millions.
Christopher Hitchens' WHY ORWELL MATTERS is an aggressive defense against Orwell's detractors and an answer to those who propose his sainthood.
What iChristopher Hitchens' WHY ORWELL MATTERS is an aggressive defense against Orwell's detractors and an answer to those who propose his sainthood.
What is the world like? How could it be better? These questions weighed heavily on Orwell. From his experience as a police officer in colonized Burma, he began to formulate views on imperialism. In 1938 he wrote "Homage to Catalonia" after volunteer service in the Spanish Civil War which illuminated his views on totalitarianism. His life experience in modest jobs in England helped form his humanistic beliefs, as he became a proponent for social democracy. From these experiences, Orwell penned "1984" and "Animal Farm" which sold more copies than any other author in the twentieth century.
Orwell is an example of an evolving mind, with truth seeking of self, politics, and all ideologies. As life experiences and data converged, he became an individual free of one belief system, but an interesting mix of many.
Hitchens identified with Orwell's hatred and aggressive stand against totalitarianism. He too evolved in his beliefs and as an individual could not be catagorized. The result is criticism from many sides and a profound experience of the life of the mind.
The TLS said of JUSTINE, " If ever a work bore an instantly recognizable signature on every sentence, this is it." What is recognizable in Lawrence DuThe TLS said of JUSTINE, " If ever a work bore an instantly recognizable signature on every sentence, this is it." What is recognizable in Lawrence Durrell's work? There is the absence of a linear story line coupled with no concise prose. Progress is made by the reader understanding just a string of words rather than the usual comprehension of paragraphs, chapters, and the whole. Durrell does not reveal the plot chronologically, but rather how the mind processes memories with the most important remembered first.
Words are Durrell's brand and the reader's feast. The images he creates are dreamlike, sensuous, dazzling, decaying, diverse, passionate, grotesque, apocalyptic, and lush. A shadowy world emerges from exotic locations in and around the city of Alexandria, the story's protagonist. The inhabitants are eclectic from ancient cultures speaking multiple languages. The elegant prose describes the amnesiac characters in a slice of time before World War II. Matching world events, the interior lives of the two couples and the narrator are in flux, leaving behind the known and familiar. War and love negates absolutes, betrayal is a weapon, and sex is a diversion. And all are without purpose and meaning.
With prohibitions silenced, Justine has affairs with less history, but still electric with potential and heart quickening for her lovers. She is the mysterious, charismatic character every man lusts for but none can possess. Her husband Nessim is a millionaire with secrets of his own. Balthazar is the leader of a group of religious mystics that fronts for something more sinister. Montolive is the ambassador obsessed with illicit passion. Clea is the gifted painter whose depth of feelings is only revealed later in the story, and Melissa is the sacrificial lamb riddled with spiritual and physical disease. Each carries the burden of Alexandria and its sad, soiled and enchanted world.
Some have said that you cannot read Proust, only re-read him for the deeper pleasures of his prose. This describes Durrell's quartet where the surface enjoyments of plot and subject drop away and reflection predominates. Some books won't unlock for the reader the first time.
Durrell has written a story of love in all its manifestations from incest and prositution to adultery among friends. He presents love of place, ideas, traditions, and tragedies that accompany this most powerful of all feelings. These are deep considerations of love from an artist whose renderings are unforgettable. FAVORITE! Highest Recommendation!
"Well, Jokanaan, I still live, but thou, thou art dead, and thy head belongs to me. I can throw it to the dogs and to the birds of the air. Ah Jokanaa"Well, Jokanaan, I still live, but thou, thou art dead, and thy head belongs to me. I can throw it to the dogs and to the birds of the air. Ah Jokanaan, Jokanaan, thou wert the only man that I have loved. Ah, wherefore didst thou not look at me, Jokanaan? Thou didst put upon thine eyes the covering of him who would see his God. Well, thou has seen thy God, Jokannaan, but me, me thou didst never see."
"If thou hadst seen me thou wouldst have love me. I, I saw thee, Jokanaan, and I loved thee. Oh, how I loved thee! Well I know that thou wouldst have love me, and the mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death."
These lines are from Oscar Wilde. The passion is from Salome whose unbridled lust for the Prophet signaled his beheading and her demise.
Death we understand. It's the decay of cells due to age or illness. But love? It is a mystery where both ecstasy and death reside...amazing!
Theodore Zeldin premise is that people have never been able to have a new vision of the future without first revising their idea of the past. "HistoryTheodore Zeldin premise is that people have never been able to have a new vision of the future without first revising their idea of the past. "History did not have to happen the way it did, and what exists today is not its logical conclusion."
Zeldin sees humanity "as a family that has hardly met. I see the meeting of people, their bodies, thoughts, emotions or actions as the start of more change." The author maintains that up to now individuals have spent more time trying to understand themselves than discovering others. "But curiosity is expanding as never before." Without leaving your living room, you can know people of other countries through your imagination and technology.
Here are a few of the topics covered in AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF HUMANITY:
How humans have repeatedly lost hope, and how new encounters, and a new pair of spectacles, revive them...
How men and women have slowly learned to have interesting conversations...
How some people have acquired an immunity to loneliness...
How respect has become more desirable than power...
How curiosity has become a key to freedom...
How people choose a way of life, and how it does not wholly satisfy them...
This intimate history of the ideas of people looks at our past in order to have a new vision of the future. Highly Recommended!...more