Wonderfully written scary middle-grade story, with wonderfully creative twists. Though I must have read this about seventy years ago, the image of theWonderfully written scary middle-grade story, with wonderfully creative twists. Though I must have read this about seventy years ago, the image of the cold glowing gray eyeglasses has always stuck with me. Easy to see why this is a classic that would still resonate with kids today. Though it makes me sad for the days before TV and video games and crazy consumerism, when being a kid was all about exploring and reading....more
A beautiful annotated edition of the fairy tales containing twelve of Andersen's most popular stories for children plus twelve more stories for adultsA beautiful annotated edition of the fairy tales containing twelve of Andersen's most popular stories for children plus twelve more stories for adults. Includes "The Little Mermaid," "The Little Match-Girl," "The Ugly Duckling," "The Princess and the Pea," and "The Snow Queen," among others. There are also many classic, wonderful illustrations from past editions (including a lot of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, two of my favorites). The annotations are very informative and readable, not dry or scholarly. The introduction, biographical section, and the section on others' perceptions of Andersen, likewise make for very easy, interesting reading. This is a good edition either for reading aloud to a child or as a starting point for the general reader wanting to delve a little more deeply into Andersen. It doesn't go into scholarly depth, but offers a wealth of suggestions and ideas for further research. ...more
The story of a Parisian ingenue in the second half of the 19th century, who rises from gutter-dwelling prostitute to famous actress to millionaire-impThe story of a Parisian ingenue in the second half of the 19th century, who rises from gutter-dwelling prostitute to famous actress to millionaire-impoverishing courtesan.
Wonderfully, surprisingly racy for a 19th century book. Funny in parts, and I really enjoyed the characters despite how sleazy and dumb most of them were. The ending was strange, though, and didn't totally seem to fit with the rest, since Zola suddenly gets very heavy-handedly moralistic, even though he clearly is no big fan of religious piety. It was a little incongruous that he could tell the story of Nana and her companions with so much zest and humor but express so much bile and disgust for them at the end.
The devil pays a visit to Moscow in the 1930s accompanied by a strange assortment of companions, spreading confusion and panic through the city. MeanwThe devil pays a visit to Moscow in the 1930s accompanied by a strange assortment of companions, spreading confusion and panic through the city. Meanwhile, a struggling writer, known only as "the Master" has given up on a novel about Pontius Pilate; his lover Margarita proves she is willing to sell her soul to the devil to save her beloved and his manuscript.
This is a very strange book. The author seems to go back and forth between focusing on several different concerns. One strand of the narrative focuses on the Devil and his companions who go around Moscow playing tricks on people and exposing their greed and stupidity. A second strand is the relationship between the Master and Margarita, who are not particularly virtuous people, though they are also not greedy or stupid - more importantly, their relationship is an almost idealized portrayal of True Love and its redemptive, all-conquering power. A third strand deals with the depiction of Pontius Pilate and Yeshua (the historical Jesus), presented through excerpts from the fictional Master's novel.
The first strand left me cold, and it took up the most space in the narrative - who needs to hear about how greedy and stupid people are? We see it every day in the news and on the subway. It was depressing and almost nihilistic. The second strand was interesting and Faustian, but the characters and their relationship are portrayed more symbolically than descriptively - we don't really get to know them very well or get in-depth characterizations. However, the third strand of the novel, the chapters about Pontius Pilate and the historical Jesus, were amazing. These chapters were painstakingly drawn in beautiful, heart-rending detail, and I felt that Pilate and Jesus were far more real than any other characters in the book. Those parts were utterly engaging and extremely well-researched, too - you could tell.
What I wish Bulgakov had done was just to write the novel about Pontius Pilate that the character the Master did in the book. In any case, the book is worth reading for the Pontius Pilate parts alone....more