Maybe my favorite novel I've ever read, especially alongside the heart of darkness. I couldn't begin to describe its effect on me. So fucking powerful...moreMaybe my favorite novel I've ever read, especially alongside the heart of darkness. I couldn't begin to describe its effect on me. So fucking powerful. I probably read more interpretation and journal articles(and spent more hours looking for those essays) than there were pages in the actual book. I desperately wanted to learn arabic to read the original text.(less)
magical realism allegory/satire of a 'third world dictator'. It was really funny and pretty quick despite the page length. I love the idea of spontane...moremagical realism allegory/satire of a 'third world dictator'. It was really funny and pretty quick despite the page length. I love the idea of spontaneous queues breaking out all over the land and I just love Ngugi. Also, such a different feel from his other books...I wonder what happened there?(less)
Lovely! There are some really vibrant scenes I won't ever forget but what ill remember most is how the narrative focused on particular parts of the fa...moreLovely! There are some really vibrant scenes I won't ever forget but what ill remember most is how the narrative focused on particular parts of the familys' lives with rich detail and then mentions what are typically major events like marriage and death in passing. Such fun! Ghosh's intertwining of history is genius. Its not that he makes history 'come alive' as much as it is that he makes character's historicity come alive.
Second novel read by Gordimer. This was utterly engrossing, I really submitted to being lost. Her sensitivities to the complexities of all movements,...moreSecond novel read by Gordimer. This was utterly engrossing, I really submitted to being lost. Her sensitivities to the complexities of all movements, expectations and responses blows me away--really her generous vision choked me up more than the plot oranything. I liked to look at the picture of Gordimers sparkling eyes and slight smile on the jacket cover whenever I read a passage (and there were many) that expressed normally well rehearsed concepts like east/west, love, desire, identity, displacement instead with such patient but pressing ambiguity. I maybe had a bit of trouble when I found myself following Julie’s needs (the seemingly privilged white South African woman) much more closely than Abdu/Ibrahim's, the "illegal" immigrant picked up by/picks up Julie. I don't usually seem to focus on the white people when reading but I identified with her a lot. Also, somewhat incidentlly, a nice compliment alongside reading Hegel and beginning to grasp dialectics, (realizing through and with the other who is not other). Anyways, I can't really review this book in a short paragraph, its too stunning.(less)
**spoiler alert** solid, incredible work. mood, imagery, morals, message, all haunting. A magistrate of an unnamed Empire, presumably in Africa, strug...more**spoiler alert** solid, incredible work. mood, imagery, morals, message, all haunting. A magistrate of an unnamed Empire, presumably in Africa, struggles with his complicity and conscience. His clumsy attempts at sexual involvement with the young "barbarian" girl left behind after a series of tortures took place under his jurisdiction are among the most effective stagings of desire I have ever read. A taste: “There is no link I can define between her womanhood and my desire. I cannot even say for sure that I desire her. All this erotic behavior of mine is indirect: I prowl about her, touching her face, caressing her body, without entering her or finding the urge to do so…with this woman it is as if there is no interior, only a surface across which I hunt back and forth seeking entry. Is this how her torturers felt hunting their secret, whatever they thought it was? For the first time I feel a dry pity for them: how natural a mistake to believe that you can burn or tear or hack your way into the secret body of the other! The girl lies in my bed, but there is no good reason why it should be a bed. I behave in some ways like a lover—I undress her, I bathe her, I stroke her, I sleep beside her—but I might equally well tie her to a chair and beat it, it would be no less intimate” (43). (less)
What to say? i'm in awe. striking structure, a literary marvel. it punctures the self and its attempts at narrative cohesion, with mystic sensibiliti...more What to say? i'm in awe. striking structure, a literary marvel. it punctures the self and its attempts at narrative cohesion, with mystic sensibilities and rhythm. Commentators far more learned than myself have addressed the undulating soliloquies that form this rarefied piece, and they've done it with care and great insight.
Something more in the terrain of that which I can comfortably vocalize is woolf’s attitude towards empire. She has her moments of outright condemnation-- to be found in her reviews and letters, (a jibe at kipling: “whether grown-up people really play this game, or whether, as we suspect, Mr. Kipling makes up the whole British Empire to amuse the solitude of his nursery, the result is curiously sterile and depressing”) but the more fascinating aspect is how her aesthetics themselves are an engaged critique of empire and it's supporting subjectivities; her novels articulate this politics persistently if also obliquely. In Mrs. Dalloway I was surer of the focus in this regard--with The Waves I will have to do some digging to elucidate what I sense. But it is, at the very least, implicit in the six narrators' reverence for Percival, the friend who goes to administrate in India in a blaze of glory, only to die an unheroic death.
To those of you who, with eyebrows raised, are thinking that I just read imperialism into everything, there is some substantial scholarship in this arena (of which I’ve yet to get my paws on): the essay “Britannia rules the waves” by Jane Marcus being the most frequently cited. also circulating somewhere is an out of print book titled ‘Virginia woolf against empire’.