If you are looking for something in the manner of Robert Graves, look elsewhere. I will forget aout what I read/ learned here within a couple of weeksIf you are looking for something in the manner of Robert Graves, look elsewhere. I will forget aout what I read/ learned here within a couple of weeks and I will definitely not read any of the sequels. Still it is OK if you want basic knowledge of the Golden Age of Rome....more
Written in 2008, this book must have been cutting-edge for its time. He is spot on when he talks about the relationship between high GI carbs and theWritten in 2008, this book must have been cutting-edge for its time. He is spot on when he talks about the relationship between high GI carbs and the obesity epdemic. He gives a good review of the prevalent diet fads. I would not go all fat-enthusiastic but I would watch my carbohydrates (remember no bread is the best bread, zero gram is the best serving size for white rice) and add intervals of sprints to my daily walks and gym sessions instead of doing steady-state cardio for long periods of time. ...more
All this has been said before. From the Stoics to the American self-help writers like Napolean Hill, Dell Carnegie, Stephen Covey etc, these platitudeAll this has been said before. From the Stoics to the American self-help writers like Napolean Hill, Dell Carnegie, Stephen Covey etc, these platitudes have been wrung to death for all that they were worth. You read one, you've read them all. As usual I 'read' the audiobook which has more than an hour of talk between the author and some other 'similar' person (must be big in America but I don't know him). Apparently the author was 26 years old when he wrote this book and it clearly shows in the 'talk' that followed the narration of his text. Why does he have to say "like" in every other sentence?
I would recommend Marcus Buckingham's work on strength-based action and leadership. Makes this book read like a pep-talk as Buckingham's work is backed by a lot of research and data, thanks to his connection with Gallop. ...more
Starting with the publication of the first volume of Beckett's Letters at the turn of the century, BeckettHere is my Amazon.co.uk review of this book:
Starting with the publication of the first volume of Beckett's Letters at the turn of the century, Beckett criticism has taken a new direction. More research-based criticism has taken the lead in this field. All this coincided with the growth and more thorough cataloguing of collections of Beckett papers, specially at Trinity College, Dublin and Reading University. Today's scholars have access to more primary sources for Beckett research and criticism than ever before. Mark Nixon's book is one of the earlier exponents of this new type of Beckett criticism. The researcher has meticulously sifted through the Beckett archives and constructed a detailed account of Beckett's wanderings in Germany immediately before the WWII. It paints an informative and sympathetic picture of a maturing Samuel Beckett, grown out of Joyce's influence but still struggling to find his own voice and trying to discover a theory and philosophy of aesthetics for himself. Read alongside Matthew Feldman's 'Beckett's Books: A Cultural History of Samuel Beckett's Interwar Notes', this book can change the way we read and understand Beckett's works. A very important book in this field of studies. ...more
I enjoyed this one more than I enjoyed Confessions. Extremely erudite and wide in scope covering past (history) and future (prophecy) while painting aI enjoyed this one more than I enjoyed Confessions. Extremely erudite and wide in scope covering past (history) and future (prophecy) while painting a vivid picture of his own time. Good ol' Saint Aug, there is an unforgettable description of Roman marriage and fertility rituals. It is not boring. I really enjoyed this one although I was dreading that it would become boring but that never happened. ...more
A typical Gladwell affair. It is a known fact that what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger, we should never play agains
Sweet are the uses of adversity
A typical Gladwell affair. It is a known fact that what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger, we should never play against a big guy according to 'his' rules and it is better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in an ocean. Gladwell wrote a whole book on these simple percepts. I enjoyed it but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence and individual stories which can never replace solid research and undeniable stats. Still it fills the pages. Another bestseller for Mr Gladwell!...more
I read this book 10 years ago and it gave me leads that I am still following. A very important book as far as Beckett criticism is concerned. I will rI read this book 10 years ago and it gave me leads that I am still following. A very important book as far as Beckett criticism is concerned. I will re-read it one of these days. ...more
Despair was never so consistently depicted, sustained for so many pages without a glimmer of hope in anything. The author lambasts every single thingDespair was never so consistently depicted, sustained for so many pages without a glimmer of hope in anything. The author lambasts every single thing imaginable. Starting with prophecy and religion, he carves up humanity, history, genius, art, literature, goodness, virtue, peace, saints, Jesus and even himself. Nothing is spared. Everything is depicted as an evil influence on mankind. He praises music and Satan at a few occasions but apart from thar, everything is a fair target for his pessimism. Bring along your highlighter and book of quotations because this work is full of lines memorable and quotable:
Man has a "mortal thirst for fictions." "Society- an inferno of saviors! What Diogenes was looking for with his lantern was an indifferent man." "The abundance of solutions to the aspects of existence is equaled only by their futility." "A human being possessed by a belief and not eager to pass it on to others is a phenomenon lien to the earth, where our mania for salvation makes life unbearable." "...no protection is adequate against the claws of a prophet." "Love- a duel of salivas..." "Lao-tse, reduced to a few texts, is not more naive than we who have read everything." "We are engulfed in a pleonastic universe, in which questions and answers amount to the same thing." "Life is what decomposes at every moment; it is a monotonous loss of light, an insipid dissolution in the darkness, without scepters, without halos..." "The man who does not adore himself is yet to be born." "If you have not contributed to a catastrophe, you will vanish without a trace." "When a nation no longer has any prejudice in its blood, its sole resource remains its will to disintegrate." "The merest illiterate and Aristotle are equally irrefutable- and fragile." "Born weary of being born, he chose to be a shade." "Infinity dreamed of in gutter retains, ineffaceabl, its imprint, its stench." "A religion dies when it tolerates truths which exclude it; and the god in whose name on no longer kills is dead indeed." "I loathe this life I idolize."...more
The ultimate narrative about an outsider, the dehumanizing effects of difference, the resultant angst, anger and despair, this book has profound lessoThe ultimate narrative about an outsider, the dehumanizing effects of difference, the resultant angst, anger and despair, this book has profound lessons for the 21st century world where bringing together of people has highlighted the differences, where need to understand other people is all the more important, where ignorance concerning basic human desires to belong, to be accepted and to be interacted with in a normal way is stronger than ever before. The lack of understanding creates the monster, the outsider and the destroyer. Love, acceptance and respect is all one needs to create harmony in a world full of difference and different people.
This is a major literary text by all standards. It has all the ingredients of a Gothic horror and deals with the all important themes discussed above. A very touching tale indeed....more
What can I say! This is a life-changing book. The author seems to be quite detached and draws this picture of a decadent life without passing any judgWhat can I say! This is a life-changing book. The author seems to be quite detached and draws this picture of a decadent life without passing any judgement but every sentence in this depiction warns against moving away from nature and life and losing one's self in art and literature. All that takes us away from life is against nature and is sickly and harmful. Life needs to be lived, there is no escaping this fact. No matter how beautiful or ghastly the paintings you admire, how subtle your sense of beauty in music, how elegant your library of books ancient or new, how strong your regard for Baudelaire or Poe, how exquisite your collection of perfumes and wines, it is all, to use Ezra Pound's resounding words "CONTRA NATURAM", against nature. The jewel encrusted tortoise is brought to its death by its unnatural beauty. The house full of priceless works of arts, jewels, trinkets, books and antiques is a dead house. Real vitality is to be found in the garden where cabbages and onions thrive under hot summer sun which almost killed our protagonist, life is to be found in the fighting, active though dirty and uncouth urchins.
Des Esseintes, the protagonist is said to be the inspiration for Wilde's Dorian Gray. I still fail to judge this character. Could he escape being a decadent aesthete? His religious sensibility is a result of his education but what about his aesthetic sensibility? Could he avoid this fate? Are some people born to be different from the herd of humanity? Huysmans does not judge his character. It could have been so easy to do so in a novel with minimum dialogue and only one character. The whole book is focused at depiction leaving no room for judgement. We can see all that is going on and we can see it is wrong, we can see that it is even fatal let alone unnatural but the writer would not tell us so. I think therein lies the true merit of this work. Yes we can spend all our lives analysing the character because it is so skillfully drawn that it would warrant such investment of time and energy but any judgement would have to be justified which is not going to be very easy to do. Is Des Esseintes a misfit? Is he a snob? He has a raging hatred for the commonplace and the vulgar. How does one acquire this hatred if not through snobbery? Calling Des Esseintes a snob would be simplistic. I think the same education which would not let his Christianity completely die in spite of his skeptical outlook, the same eduction would not let him live a real life as it exposed him to art and literature to such an extent that he became unfit to live in a world of coarse reality. Is he a victim, then? ...more
Too many rants for my liking and too egotistical. Frank McCourt is an excellent writer and I really enjoyed 'Angela's Ashes' when I read it 10 years aToo many rants for my liking and too egotistical. Frank McCourt is an excellent writer and I really enjoyed 'Angela's Ashes' when I read it 10 years ago but in Teacher Man he comes across as excessively resentful and full of self-pity. He does not miss any chance of laying one on university professors, repeatedly alleging that their workload is very low and and they get all the skirt given the free time at their disposal. They utilise this free time chasing young female students. This is a very uncomfortable truth, Mr McCourt, and you don't put this thing on paper just like that! The fact remains that the schools in the so-called developed world are far less productive and functional than the schools in the so-called developing or even third world countries whereas with the university system, the equation is diametrically opposite. McCourt's hard-working teachers (5 classes a day!!!) are still producing semi-literate louts in millions (in spite of the huge amounts of money spent on school education in these countries) whereas all those skirt-chasing professors produce scholars who lead the cutting edge of research and innovation. By their fruit you will know them.
That continuous moan about the miserable childhood in Ireland also became boring after a few pages. He did not live through the Potato Famine, did he?
The book does give an honest and frank picture of a career spent teaching in all sorts of schools in New York. He is honest about his mistakes which is a good thing in a biography that is closely linked to the central character's career. It paints an accurate picture of the state of schools. Still too self-conscious and self-centred to deserve anything more than 3 stars unfortunately. ...more
Reality TV or not, this book gives some ideas of the problems that are surrounding the American schools system in our time. Tony must have spent a verReality TV or not, this book gives some ideas of the problems that are surrounding the American schools system in our time. Tony must have spent a very stressful time in that Philadelphia high because every page is steeped in angst and feeling of helplessness in the face of above-mentioned problems. Glimpses of author's own personal problems are given in the back ground. Good book to direct attention towards the education system and its discontents....more