Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 678438 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7160 on: July 13, 2015, 08:58:23 AM »
Re-reading (for I know not whatth time) Evelyn Waugh's Decline & Fall.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7161 on: July 13, 2015, 12:09:16 PM »
Re-reading (for I know not whatth time) Evelyn Waugh's Decline & Fall.

Waugh was a wonderful author and I do not think that his works lose anything with a re-read. Enjoy.....again.
The ability to talk comes with knowledge. The ability to listen comes with wisdom.

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7162 on: July 15, 2015, 01:09:17 PM »
Thumbprint, translation of Wachtmeister Studer
Friedrich Glauser

Offline Gordo

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7163 on: July 15, 2015, 03:28:23 PM »
Tonight I have started this one:



... translated into Spanish:



Physical book, not Kindle.

It's a thick book of more than 1,000 pages in which I was interested after watching an Andrew Solomon's TED talk titled "Love, no matter what":

https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_love_no_matter_what

It's one of the most moving and deep talks that I have heard the last time.

So much that I bought and started this book about parents and children being a single man without children!  :)
Musica lætitiæ comes medicina dolorum
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Offline Alberich

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7164 on: July 17, 2015, 02:38:12 AM »
I reread A Tale of Two Cities.  That was a favorite back in high school, it still holds up but is not my favorite Dickens novel by far anymore.  I guess my problem is that it doesn't have enough of the Dickensian humor and quirky characters, and everything is too black and white.

Sorry for bringing up such an old quote but this roused my interest since I am going to re read tale of two cities one of these days. I never saw tale of two cities as that black and white, since a) the villainess of the novel, Madame Defarge, has one hell of an freudian excuse, even though her bloodthirstiness is still alarming. And b) The author clearly has grudging admiration towards her, praising her intellect, firmness, beauty and dedication to her cause. She is kind of Lady Macbeth of Dickens's oeuvre, having certain type of grandness about her. This quote from the book in particular seems pretty clear admiration to me (horror inducing admiration but still):

"There were many women at that time, upon whom the time laid a dreadfully disfiguring hand; but, there was not one among them more to be dreaded than this ruthless woman, now taking her way along the streets. Of a strong and fearless character, of shrewd sense and readiness, of great determination, of that kind of beauty which not only seems to impart to its possessor firmness and animosity, but to strike into others an instinctive recognition of those qualities; the troubled time would have heaved her up, under any circumstances."

There is also Gaspard (who murders certain heartless Marquis who run over his son and mocked his grief by tossing him a gold coin as compensation) and repenting grave robber Jerry Cruncher. Dickens clearly intends us to see Sydney Carton as a flawed character because of his wasted life, but much like Pip in Great Expectations, he never does anything bad. And he actually commits the most noble act in the book. It is interesting how Dickens invites sympathy for the oppressed but is alarmed when the oppressed become oppressors themselves.

I agree though about the lack of humor. Other than Jerry Cruncher's antics, this book doesn't have that much of comedy. However, I think it brings refreshing change, differing from his earlier satirical works.

Now reading: William Berger, Wagner without fear. Very enjoyable, similar to his Verdi with a vengeance. By the way, this book's full title (Wagner without fear: learning to love - and even enjoy - opera's most demanding genius) reminds me of Dr Strangelove. Possibly intentional?



« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 02:58:24 AM by Alberich »
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Bogey

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7165 on: July 17, 2015, 03:26:29 AM »
Sorry for bringing up such an old quote but this roused my interest since I am going to re read tale of two cities one of these days. I never saw tale of two cities as that black and white, since a) the villainess of the novel, Madame Defarge, has one hell of an freudian excuse, even though her bloodthirstiness is still alarming. And b) The author clearly has grudging admiration towards her, praising her intellect, firmness, beauty and dedication to her cause. She is kind of Lady Macbeth of Dickens's oeuvre, having certain type of grandness about her. This quote from the book in particular seems pretty clear admiration to me (horror inducing admiration but still):

"There were many women at that time, upon whom the time laid a dreadfully disfiguring hand; but, there was not one among them more to be dreaded than this ruthless woman, now taking her way along the streets. Of a strong and fearless character, of shrewd sense and readiness, of great determination, of that kind of beauty which not only seems to impart to its possessor firmness and animosity, but to strike into others an instinctive recognition of those qualities; the troubled time would have heaved her up, under any circumstances."

There is also Gaspard (who murders certain heartless Marquis who run over his son and mocked his grief by tossing him a gold coin as compensation) and repenting grave robber Jerry Cruncher. Dickens clearly intends us to see Sydney Carton as a flawed character because of his wasted life, but much like Pip in Great Expectations, he never does anything bad. And he actually commits the most noble act in the book. It is interesting how Dickens invites sympathy for the oppressed but is alarmed when the oppressed become oppressors themselves.

I agree though about the lack of humor. Other than Jerry Cruncher's antics, this book doesn't have that much of comedy. However, I think it brings refreshing change, differing from his earlier satirical works.


Incredible book.  As far as the character Sydney Carton, I did not know Dickens "had it in him" to to put together such a complex character.  Most of the time he has many characters to fill many roles.  I would like to delve into the reviews of this as it came out in its weekly installments and how it was perceived by the general public. 
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7166 on: July 17, 2015, 03:30:21 AM »
I need to finish Pickwick, so that I can re-read Tale of Two Cities  ;)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Alberich

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7167 on: July 17, 2015, 03:58:17 AM »
Incredible book.  As far as the character Sydney Carton, I did not know Dickens "had it in him" to to put together such a complex character.  Most of the time he has many characters to fill many roles.  I would like to delve into the reviews of this as it came out in its weekly installments and how it was perceived by the general public.

It is often said that in this book Dickens focused more on plot than in characterization but I actually find characters much stronger than the plot since the only reason Sydney Carton is able to make his magnificent rescue of Darnay at the end is the unbelievable coincidence that they just happen to run into Miss Pross's long lost evil brother, whom Carton can blackmail. Plot was never Dickens's strongest point but damn, that's almost on Nickleby level of poor plot handling.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Bogey

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7168 on: July 17, 2015, 03:59:38 AM »
I need to finish Pickwick, so that I can re-read Tale of Two Cities  ;)

With caution, Karl.  You never know what someone might be knitting. ;)
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Bogey

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7169 on: July 17, 2015, 04:01:46 AM »
It is often said that in this book Dickens focused more on plot than in characterization but I actually find characters much stronger than the plot since the only reason Sydney Carton is able to make his magnificent rescue of Darnay at the end is the unbelievable coincidence that they just happen to run into Miss Pross's long lost evil brother, whom Carton can blackmail. Plot was never Dickens's strongest point but damn, that's almost on Nickleby level of poor plot handling.

Oh, how correct you are.  There always seems to be large coincidental moments that one has to give into for the story to move along.  These I do not mind as the frosting on the cake takes care of these turns for me. :)
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7170 on: July 17, 2015, 05:31:26 AM »
I have just started to read Nickolas Niclelby....


The ability to talk comes with knowledge. The ability to listen comes with wisdom.

Offline Bogey

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7171 on: July 17, 2015, 06:02:44 AM »
I have just started to read Nickolas Niclelby....




I enjoyed that one.  I have others I like more, but glad to have it on the shelf.
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7172 on: July 17, 2015, 06:03:00 AM »
This weekend, I'm fixin' again to watch Chas Sturridge's film of Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust.

Why mention that here?  Because of Sir Alec Guinness's character, Mr Todd, who likes to have someone to read Dickens with . . . .
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Alberich

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7173 on: July 17, 2015, 06:55:49 AM »
I have just started to read Nickolas Niclelby....




Good book but I prefer Oliver Twist, Old curiosity shop and Barnaby rudge, when it comes to his early works. Old curiosity shop is a very special book to me in a way that although I recognize it's flaws, even it's major major flaws and diabetes-tasting sentimentalism surrounding Little Nell... I am unable to hate it. I love it. Even the sentimental parts. It's one of my guilty pleasures. Barnaby Rudge may not anymore be my favorite Dickens book, but it most certainly is IMO his most underrated one. It seems Barnaby's neglect arouses mainly from the fact that it didn't sell that good when it was first published and ultimately its bad reputation led to several people just skipping it, thinking it's not worth reading.

Btw, I am also reading Dombey, this time in English, and I don't know if the earlier chapters were better than I remembered than when I first read it in finnish... but I like this book now a lot more. Then again, I have still 4/5 of English Dombey to go. The rich language Dickens uses doesn't always translate that well, that's one of the reasons Martin Chuzzlewit has never been translated in my language. Try translating Sarah Gamp's language, now there's a challenge. Chuzzlewit is actually one of the few Dickens novels I still haven't read, others including that goddamn Pickwick, Bleak House and Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens also has many other fictional or non-fictional works of high quality. His letters in particular are very interesting to read. When a certain Jewish person Eliza Davis protested against Dickens's portrayal of Fagin in Oliver Twist, Dickens makes so good counterarguments that I am quite frankly amazed. Even though Fagin was a product of greatly prejudiced mind, he certainly knew how to stand his ground. Of course Eliza Davis then annihilates him in her reply letter with even more insightful arguments.


And finally, I am also reading this:


"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7174 on: July 17, 2015, 08:45:11 AM »
Good book but I prefer Oliver Twist, Old curiosity shop and Barnaby rudge, when it comes to his early works. Old curiosity shop is a very special book to me in a way that although I recognize it's flaws, even it's major major flaws and diabetes-tasting sentimentalism surrounding Little Nell... I am unable to hate it. I love it. Even the sentimental parts. It's one of my guilty pleasures. Barnaby Rudge may not anymore be my favorite Dickens book, but it most certainly is IMO his most underrated one. It seems Barnaby's neglect arouses mainly from the fact that it didn't sell that good when it was first published and ultimately its bad reputation led to several people just skipping it, thinking it's not worth reading.

Btw, I am also reading Dombey, this time in English, and I don't know if the earlier chapters were better than I remembered than when I first read it in finnish... but I like this book now a lot more. Then again, I have still 4/5 of English Dombey to go. The rich language Dickens uses doesn't always translate that well, that's one of the reasons Martin Chuzzlewit has never been translated in my language. Try translating Sarah Gamp's language, now there's a challenge. Chuzzlewit is actually one of the few Dickens novels I still haven't read, others including that goddamn Pickwick, Bleak House and Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens also has many other fictional or non-fictional works of high quality. His letters in particular are very interesting to read. When a certain Jewish person Eliza Davis protested against Dickens's portrayal of Fagin in Oliver Twist, Dickens makes so good counterarguments that I am quite frankly amazed. Even though Fagin was a product of greatly prejudiced mind, he certainly knew how to stand his ground. Of course Eliza Davis then annihilates him in her reply letter with even more insightful arguments.


I had just read Oliver Twist last month. That is a wonderful book to read; great characters and a good strong plot.
I had never thought of the difficulties of translating Dickes. How would the humour, wit and irony of Pickwick Papers translate?!?!
The ability to talk comes with knowledge. The ability to listen comes with wisdom.

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Offline Todd

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7176 on: July 18, 2015, 03:54:20 PM »




Reagan: The Life, by HW Brands.  I needed me a Reagan bio sans fictional characters (Edmund Morris), and I didn't want to undertake Lou Cannon's two volumes just yet, so HW Brands' new one volume bio seemed a good choice.  I enjoyed Brands' bios of Jackson and FDR, and as in those two books, his writing style is clear, cogent, and makes for lickety split fast reading.  I'm in the first presidential term now, and if the work is not a heavy duty scholarly take (call it “scholarly light”), it contains details I did not know until now.  Brands appears to like Reagan, though he also acknowledges flaws, though not enough for Reagan-haters, no doubt.  The book also definitely makes me want to read detailed, unbiased bios of some hired hands, namely James Baker and George Schultz, even more than before, though they may not be available during my lifetime.  Anyway, getting a refresher in the Gipper's style and approach, and reading some of his earlier letters and speeches, makes it all the more obvious how some current day conservatives who aspire to assume his mantle are nothing more than political chipmunks.

The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7177 on: July 19, 2015, 04:44:30 AM »
Hey!  The chipmunks don't appreciate that remark!  0:)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7178 on: July 21, 2015, 08:13:40 AM »
California’s Anti-GMO Hysteria

Quote from: Henry Miller
The push to require labeling of genetically modified (GM) or genetically engineered (GE) food is one of those causes that sounds worthy — like “protect the Delta smelt” or “save the snail darter” — until you actually learn a little about them.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Ken B

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #7179 on: July 21, 2015, 10:40:44 AM »
California’s Anti-GMO Hysteria
Imagine we are being watched by aliens, who decide,before shipping us off as slave labor,  to cull the herd of dolts and dimwits. They'd want a way for the dolts and dimwits to identify themselves, right?

Thus are this story and the Trump boomlet explained.