Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 1003849 times)

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Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10360 on: December 30, 2020, 12:19:48 AM »
Bryson must have written about 50 books on as many completely unrelated subjects. The only one I read was A Walk in the Woods, which I greatly enjoyed.

A Walk In The Woods would be my favorite of his travel books. Around about 2000 i read everything he'd written up to that point and thought his work was Mother Tongue. Since then I'd have to add that his book on Shakespeare was unexpectedly excellent. But I'll read anything he does. Only the one on Australia was an actual letdown.

Offline LKB

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10361 on: December 31, 2020, 01:25:43 PM »
Blue Water Sailor, by Don Sheppard.

An account of life as a mustang posted on a USN destroyer, ca. 1960. Quite enjoyable, and fairly revealing.

 $:),

LKB
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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10362 on: December 31, 2020, 03:24:06 PM »
I've just started Honoré de Balzac's Père Goriot yesterday; I'm about a third of the way into it. So far, so good. Such great characters, including the city of Paris, a character itself. I can see how Dostoevsky was influenced by some of these themes as well as Balzac's style of writing.

Online Brian

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10363 on: January 01, 2021, 09:09:57 AM »
A Walk In The Woods would be my favorite of his travel books. Around about 2000 i read everything he'd written up to that point and thought his work was Mother Tongue. Since then I'd have to add that his book on Shakespeare was unexpectedly excellent. But I'll read anything he does. Only the one on Australia was an actual letdown.

I haven't read any Bryson in 5-7 years but at the time my favorite of his travel books was The Lost Continent, where he travels around America's rural small towns. It seems to be unpopular because it's more caustic and ruthless than his other travel books, which are kinder and more generous in their descriptions of the locals. Wonder how that book stands up now.

Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10364 on: January 01, 2021, 11:14:48 AM »
I've just started Honoré de Balzac's Père Goriot yesterday; I'm about a third of the way into it. So far, so good. Such great characters, including the city of Paris, a character itself. I can see how Dostoevsky was influenced by some of these themes as well as Balzac's style of writing.

I've long been intending to read Pére Goriot. I much prefer Balzac to Proust. I wonder why Marcel Proust who wrote In search of lost time in 20th century, was so steeped in victorian-like hypocrisy that he needed to disguise the lovemaking scene of two lesbians while Balzac wrote about lesbian relations rightfully without any kind of shame and openly almost 100 years earlier in La fille aux yeux d'or. And yes, there is an "openly" homosexual character of Charlus in Proust but I take it this to be once again an implication of Proust's sexist views towards women. And I believe Charlus is referred to specifically as "aberrant", not homosexual.

Must seek out Pére Goriot at some point. I've heard it's very much like King Lear (not that I'm a huge fan of that work).

Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10365 on: January 01, 2021, 12:29:25 PM »
Finished fairly recently the third part of Mann's Joseph tetralogy. Liked it quite a bit, the characterization of Mut-em-enet was superb. My progress was much slower than with the first and second parts however. It may take some time before I'll start the last part, since I am moving out and it stresses me quite a bit.

Offline André

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10366 on: January 01, 2021, 01:13:35 PM »
Indeed, Mut-em-enet is quite the character. But so is her husband in his own way, an imposing yet highly fragile man. The way he rewards the two quarrelling small persons at the end is priceless. It reminds me of Sarastro similarly treating Monastatos in The Magic Flute. And the story of Joseph’s watch in the Cretan loggia is also a great piece of writing.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10367 on: January 01, 2021, 02:36:18 PM »
I've long been intending to read Pére Goriot. I much prefer Balzac to Proust. I wonder why Marcel Proust who wrote In search of lost time in 20th century, was so steeped in victorian-like hypocrisy that he needed to disguise the lovemaking scene of two lesbians while Balzac wrote about lesbian relations rightfully without any kind of shame and openly almost 100 years earlier in La fille aux yeux d'or. And yes, there is an "openly" homosexual character of Charlus in Proust but I take it this to be once again an implication of Proust's sexist views towards women. And I believe Charlus is referred to specifically as "aberrant", not homosexual.

Must seek out Pére Goriot at some point. I've heard it's very much like King Lear (not that I'm a huge fan of that work).

Are you sure they were making love?

It’s  important to the ideas in the book that we’re never clear what they’re actually doing. If you read the scene in Du Côté de Chez Swann carefully you’ll see that it’s at least suggested that the two women know they’re being watched and are staging the thing as a sort of joke to wind him up. And (though I haven’t checked this for about 20 years) I think there’s a moment much later on, in Albertine Disparue maybe, when he’s pretty well finished with Albertine, that Gilberte comes to see him and they discuss what he saw through the window in terms which make it unclear what was really going on. This is Proust’s point -  unknowability.

I should add that there’s plenty of explicit lesbian sexuality in the book. I’m sure that  Proust didn’t feel the need to hide it. Think of that scene where the women’s tits go hard when they dance with each other, or, better, Charles Morel seducing young girls and then passing them on to Albertine to finish off. But it may be true that all the women who have lesbian sex also have straight sex - while it’s hard to imagine Charlus with a woman.

I’ll just add that the whole scene seems weird to me, but maybe I’m really sexually naive. Have you ever had S&M sex by getting your partner to break a photo of their dad? I mean, it doesn’t sound very hardcore to me - but I’m not a lesbian.

« Last Edit: January 01, 2021, 02:43:08 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10368 on: January 01, 2021, 05:25:29 PM »
Not currently reading Dante, but have a few Dante-related books buried it may be time to put near the top of the pile:

Italy begins year of Dante anniversary events with virtual Uffizi exhibition


currently reading this, having not yet been able to find a copy of Absolute Friends:


Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10369 on: January 02, 2021, 07:44:52 AM »
Are you sure they were making love?

It’s  important to the ideas in the book that we’re never clear what they’re actually doing. If you read the scene in Du Côté de Chez Swann carefully you’ll see that it’s at least suggested that the two women know they’re being watched and are staging the thing as a sort of joke to wind him up. And (though I haven’t checked this for about 20 years) I think there’s a moment much later on, in Albertine Disparue maybe, when he’s pretty well finished with Albertine, that Gilberte comes to see him and they discuss what he saw through the window in terms which make it unclear what was really going on. This is Proust’s point -  unknowability.

I should add that there’s plenty of explicit lesbian sexuality in the book. I’m sure that  Proust didn’t feel the need to hide it. Think of that scene where the women’s tits go hard when they dance with each other, or, better, Charles Morel seducing young girls and then passing them on to Albertine to finish off. But it may be true that all the women who have lesbian sex also have straight sex - while it’s hard to imagine Charlus with a woman.

I’ll just add that the whole scene seems weird to me, but maybe I’m really sexually naive. Have you ever had S&M sex by getting your partner to break a photo of their dad? I mean, it doesn’t sound very hardcore to me - but I’m not a lesbian.

A very good point. I may assume too much. I guess it is mainly Balzac's writing style which makes me prefer him to Proust. Sometimes Proust's sentences are so long (I swear there are some length of an entire page!) that I forget how they started when I get to the end. Although since memory is a very important part of In search of lost time, this may be very fitting, no?

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10370 on: January 02, 2021, 11:11:38 AM »
Kiss of the Spider Woman, by Argentine writer Manuel Puig.
A friendship between a transsexual avoiding a real-world and a socialist revolutionary in Argentina.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2021, 11:26:36 AM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10371 on: January 02, 2021, 11:29:04 AM »
A very good point. I may assume too much. I guess it is mainly Balzac's writing style which makes me prefer him to Proust. Sometimes Proust's sentences are so long (I swear there are some length of an entire page!) that I forget how they started when I get to the end. Although since memory is a very important part of In search of lost time, this may be very fitting, no?

There's a great musicality to his way of handling French which may not come across in translation -- the long sentences in French are mostly fine if you read aloud!
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10372 on: January 04, 2021, 03:40:45 AM »
I've long been intending to read Pére Goriot. I much prefer Balzac to Proust. I wonder why Marcel Proust who wrote In search of lost time in 20th century, was so steeped in victorian-like hypocrisy that he needed to disguise the lovemaking scene of two lesbians while Balzac wrote about lesbian relations rightfully without any kind of shame and openly almost 100 years earlier in La fille aux yeux d'or. And yes, there is an "openly" homosexual character of Charlus in Proust but I take it this to be once again an implication of Proust's sexist views towards women. And I believe Charlus is referred to specifically as "aberrant", not homosexual.

Must seek out Pére Goriot at some point. I've heard it's very much like King Lear (not that I'm a huge fan of that work).

No comment on Proust; I've read nothing of his. What other Balzac have you read? I'm trying to decide where to go next.

Online Biffo

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10373 on: January 04, 2021, 04:40:05 AM »
No comment on Proust; I've read nothing of his. What other Balzac have you read? I'm trying to decide where to go next.

Lost Illusions follows on from Pere Goriot more or less chronologically; It has a different protagonist but Rastignac and Vautrin both reappear.

Offline steve ridgway

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10374 on: January 04, 2021, 08:45:40 AM »
Dr. Lee Know - Mitochondria and the Future of Medicine.

“Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation” - Wernher von Braun

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10375 on: January 04, 2021, 03:39:46 PM »
Lost Illusions follows on from Pere Goriot more or less chronologically; It has a different protagonist but Rastignac and Vautrin both reappear.

Damn long though. But this is the one I was looking at for next. I'll have to see if I can track down a cheap copy.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10376 on: January 05, 2021, 06:22:15 AM »
Dr. Lee Know - Mitochondria and the Future of Medicine.

Looks very interesting. I need to get a copy.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10377 on: January 07, 2021, 04:08:02 PM »
The Gambler, Dostoevsky.
FD wrote the fine novella under a strict deadline to pay off gambling debts. Because of the time constraint, he dictated the story to a stenographer, who would become his wife later.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10378 on: January 07, 2021, 04:21:59 PM »
The Gambler, Dostoevsky.
FD wrote the fine novella under a strict deadline to pay off gambling debts. Because of the time constraint, he dictated the story to a stenographer, who would become his wife later.

Never read that one. I'm interested now, I'll have to check it out.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10379 on: January 07, 2021, 04:46:26 PM »
Never read that one. I'm interested now, I'll have to check it out.

Please do so at your convenience. This could possibly be the most entertaining work by FD. Just like his other novels, the personal characters in the novella are well-defined, contrasting, and realistic. I like the grandma in the story.

Ed. Of course, P composed the music for the operatic adaptation of the novella.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2021, 05:07:32 PM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »