I read W & P for the first time as a teenager, when it meant everything to me, and completely changed the way I looked at the world. Now, re-readiI read W & P for the first time as a teenager, when it meant everything to me, and completely changed the way I looked at the world. Now, re-reading the book shortly before my 50th birthday, I have to admit that it meant less to me on the second go-through.
Perhaps I'm less tolerant of the lecturing tone that Tolstoy employs through so much of the text.
I still think that there are chapters in W & P that are as brilliantly written as anything written by anyone anywhere. (c.f. Natasha's first big ball, the big Rostov hunt scene, Prince Andrei's reflections before and after meeting Natasha, Pierre wandering about on the Borodino battlefield.) But maybe the proportion of these "good scenes" is smaller than I remember.
And however much you have to respect the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, it really seems clear that Count Tolstoy could have used a good editor.
I didn't like this as much as my other excursions into "Greene-land." It's certainly a prescient novel, about Vietnam and the folly of American meddliI didn't like this as much as my other excursions into "Greene-land." It's certainly a prescient novel, about Vietnam and the folly of American meddling in the world, published in 1955 (!). This was long before the adventures of the CIA and other US interventionists were fully known - in places like Guatemala and Iran and Congo. But "Quiet" wants to be more than just a political tract; Greene also wants it to be a character study AND a faith novel, like "The Power and the Glory." There's too much going on in only 180 pages, and Greene has too many axes to grind to get them all sharp. Moreover, the eponymous character is too much of a straw man to be credible; Graham Greene wants so badly to make his point about the wrong-ness of the United States that he doesn't bother to flesh Pyle out. I liked the movie better! ...more
More tremendous short stories from a master, investigating the construction of identity, the search for meaning, and the psychological landscape of ruMore tremendous short stories from a master, investigating the construction of identity, the search for meaning, and the psychological landscape of rural Ontario....more
Remarkable how influential this novel was, how so much of its tone has shaped gay consciousness and discourse over the last two generations. It's setRemarkable how influential this novel was, how so much of its tone has shaped gay consciousness and discourse over the last two generations. It's set in the fast and furious sexual and social world of lower Manhattan and Fire Island in the 1970s. "Dancer" pre-dates the onslaught of AIDS/HIV, but even so, an elegaic atmosphere of memory and loss pervades its pages. Certainly the novel reflects the rampant coupling and promiscuity that was the rule in the post-1960s era of Gay Liberation. But in a larger sense, "Dancer from the Dance" is about the Education of Americans. It echoes early novels about initiation and enlightenment set in New York, most notably "The Great Gatsby." Like the Fitzgerald, "Dancer" is terribly disillusioning. In American culture, those who seek to go "over the rainbow" ultimately realize that Oz is an illusionary world of people wearing green-tinted glasses....more
Lewycka's 2007 novel is an impressive follow-up to her wonderful debut book, "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian." Lewycka, who is a Ukrainian iLewycka's 2007 novel is an impressive follow-up to her wonderful debut book, "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian." Lewycka, who is a Ukrainian immigrant to Britain herself, follws the difficulties of a group of Eastern European fruit pickers who are sucked up into the exploititive world of migrant labor. The Dickensian "social conscience" aspects are balanced by delightful comedy and romance. Think of "Tortilla Curtilla" crossed with "Canterbury Tales" with the spirit of a 1930s Frank Capra film!...more
Interesting account of Germaine Necker de Stael Rocca (1766-1821), aka Madame de Stael. It was said of the times she lives through that there were thrInteresting account of Germaine Necker de Stael Rocca (1766-1821), aka Madame de Stael. It was said of the times she lives through that there were three great powers in Europe: the French Army, the British Navy, and Madame de Stael - and J. Christopher Herold certainly does a good job of bringing life to both this passionate woman and her confusing, hopeful, despairing, enlightened and romantic times. Yes, there may be a few passages in this book where Herold may go into a little bit too much detail summarizing Germaine's forgotten political and fictional books, but he always goes back to her life, which was filled with enough drama love and tragedy to fill an entire HBO miniseries.
Hey - that's a good idea!
She was the daughter of the great Finance Minister of Louis XVI, Jacques Necker, who did his best to save France from the abyss of economic collapse - and failed. Thus she enjoyed a front row seat for the French Revolution - in all its glory and horror. Her first husband was a Swedish diplomat who was a friend of Marie Antoinette; among her lovers were the incomparable diplomat Talleyrand, the influential economist Sisimondi, and the inflamed romantic novelist Benjamin Constant. And her second husband was a dashing French cavalryman half her age....more