Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 901246 times)

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Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9660 on: February 07, 2020, 09:12:58 AM »
First approach to the work of Claude Simon, with Le jardin des plantes.


I had meant to read some Simon for years, but kept putting it off. Then, last summer, a reference to Le jardin des plantes (by now, I don’t even remember where  :-[), made me order the first volume of his collected works in the Pléiade edition. When I got it, the peculiar page lay-out of this work appeared daunting to me, and I kept postponing reading it. It’s about time now... Voyons.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2020, 10:43:33 AM by ritter »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9661 on: February 08, 2020, 10:10:49 AM »
Le Jardin des Plantes is a late  one, maybe the last, and it contains references to previous novels. In fact it was the first one I read too.
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Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9662 on: February 10, 2020, 08:48:21 AM »
Le Jardin des Plantes is a late  one, maybe the last, and it contains references to previous novels. In fact it was the first one I read too.
Yep. I now remember that the book was mentioned in some article on modern painting, as apparently it tells - in a humorous tone - the first private performance of Picasso's Le désir attrapé par la queue in occupied Paris (I haven't reached that point yet, as I couldn't much advance with reading this weekend).

Fortunately, the Pléaide edition is profusely annotated, so any reference to anything (obscure as it may be) is explained with a wealth of background information. These Pléaides are absolute jewels, a summit in the art of publishing.  :)
« Last Edit: February 10, 2020, 10:31:42 AM by ritter »
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Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9663 on: February 10, 2020, 10:52:19 AM »
currently:



a second reading, after discussing it with someone last weekend and remembering all my favorite parts


also on the go:


Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9664 on: February 17, 2020, 11:39:35 PM »
1/4 through Moby Dick, but finished this in the meantime:



and finding it as good as I'd heard and can easily see how it became a model for the books that followed it, it retains its power even though being much imitated

Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9665 on: February 18, 2020, 06:48:59 AM »
Moby Dick is amazing book! I would also recommend from Melville Mardi, unfortunately it has never been thought of nearly as highly as Moby Dick, perhaps because the story evolves from ordinary adventure into allegorical one rather suddenly.

Offline T. D.

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9666 on: February 19, 2020, 05:11:34 PM »

Don't read much poetry, but this one appealed to me.

Offline steve ridgway

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9667 on: February 19, 2020, 09:59:52 PM »

Don't read much poetry, but this one appealed to me.

I like the title in connection with the photo of Jupiter but that is enough poetry for me :-\.

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9668 on: February 21, 2020, 03:53:18 PM »
Moby Dick is amazing book! I would also recommend from Melville Mardi, unfortunately it has never been thought of nearly as highly as Moby Dick, perhaps because the story evolves from ordinary adventure into allegorical one rather suddenly.

Thanks for that. Next time I see a copy of Mardi I'll grab it.

The reread of Moby Dick has been put on hold as I've recently started Orlando Figes A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, and am finding it every bit as good as its reputation




Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9669 on: February 22, 2020, 02:04:54 AM »
I wont be reading it immediately, but at a secocondhand bookshop today I picked up a copy of Mary Chestnut's Diary, and in the store opened it to this entry:

"The Yankees, since the war has begun, have discovered it is to free slaves that they are fighting. So their case is noble.  They also expect to make the war pay. They think we belong to them. We have been good milk cows - milked by the tariff, or skimmed,. We let them have all all of our hard earnings. We bear the ban of slavery; they get the money. Cotton pays everybody who handles it, sells it, manufactures it, but rarely pays the man who grows it. Second hand the Yankees recieve the wages of slavery. They grew rich. We grew poor. The reciever is as bad as the thief. "

(entry for July 8th, 1862 - page 175)



Ken Burns quoted her extensively in his Civil War series, but I don't remember hearing that one
« Last Edit: February 22, 2020, 02:08:50 AM by SimonNZ »

Offline Baron Scarpia

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9670 on: February 27, 2020, 12:50:34 AM »
Mansfield Park, Jane Austin. Her most innovative novel, in which a play within the novel sows the seeds of the family's undoing. Ultimately found myself uninterested in the mores and customs of English landed aristocracy. The poor relation, Fanny, becomes the hero of the story due to her submissiveness, desire to be useful to her superiors and deferential character. I found her insufferable, and thought that the supposedly subversive "Miss Crawford" was the most interesting and attractive character in the book.

What I mainly learned there are authors such as Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Faulkner, Hawthorne, Morrison, Attwood who give me great pleasure from re-reading, but Austin is not in this category.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2020, 01:00:54 AM by Baron Scarpia »

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9671 on: February 27, 2020, 12:56:10 AM »
I've read very little Atwood. Which of hers have you enjoyed rereading?

Offline Baron Scarpia

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9672 on: February 27, 2020, 12:59:53 AM »
I've read very little Atwood. Which of hers have you enjoyed rereading?

I'm not a huge fan of her dystopian fiction. The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace are her great works, in my opinion.

Online JBS

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9673 on: February 27, 2020, 08:10:46 AM »
Mansfield Park, Jane Austin. Her most innovative novel, in which a play within the novel sows the seeds of the family's undoing. Ultimately found myself uninterested in the mores and customs of English landed aristocracy. The poor relation, Fanny, becomes the hero of the story due to her submissiveness, desire to be useful to her superiors and deferential character. I found her insufferable, and thought that the supposedly subversive "Miss Crawford" was the most interesting and attractive character in the book.

What I mainly learned there are authors such as Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Faulkner, Hawthorne, Morrison, Attwood who give me great pleasure from re-reading, but Austin is not in this category.

That was my feeling the first time I read MP.  It took me two more rereadings to catch onto all the nuances that belie the surface appearances. Mary and Henry Crawford are indeed attractive, but are so lacking in a moral core that they become evil without even realizing it. Fanny's outward submissiveness masks an inner determination to not have any man if she can't get the man she wants.

The Austen book I don't reread is Pride and Prejudice.

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Offline Baron Scarpia

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9674 on: February 27, 2020, 10:04:27 AM »
That was my feeling the first time I read MP.  It took me two more rereadings to catch onto all the nuances that belie the surface appearances. Mary and Henry Crawford are indeed attractive, but are so lacking in a moral core that they become evil without even realizing it. Fanny's outward submissiveness masks an inner determination to not have any man if she can't get the man she wants.

What you are describing are the surface appearances. I wouldn't say that the Crawfords lack a moral code. I would say they have some good intentions but are so much seduced by the wealth and ease that comes to them by default that they lack the moral strength to carry it out.

If I give Austin credit, it would be in the real nuances the belie the surface appearance. Elizabeth's "unacceptable" cynical comments about the clergy are totally justified. Henry Crawford's courtship of Fanny is interrupted when he must go out collecting rents from tenants on his vast land holdings. What is worse, his his profligate antics, or the fact that he is a slumlord whose wealth is sucked from a vast host of impoverished tenants? Things get out of hand when Sir Thomas must travel to Antigua to get his affairs in order. What was he doing there? Antigua at the time was a British colony which employed enslaved labor to produce sugar cane. Probably he was clearing out the indigenous slaves and importing African slaves, which were much more effective. That's what was going on in Antigua at the time. Upon finding out about his daughters fling with Henry, Sir Thomas exiles her from the family and sequesters her at a remote location with the hated Mrs Norris. So the "honorable" sir Thomas is a slave master and human trafficker who renounces his own daughter to avoid "embarrassment" to his neighborhood.

The book is an inditement of the despicable exploitation that supports the landed gentry in England. Now that I think of it, I'm starting to like the book better.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2020, 10:09:04 AM by Baron Scarpia »

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9675 on: February 27, 2020, 10:15:18 AM »
Re-reading Jan Potocki's The Manuscript Found at Saragossa, which, back in the deeps of Time, our Cato recommended. Although very different in content to Tom Jones, I enjoy it in a roughly similar way.
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Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9676 on: February 27, 2020, 12:35:14 PM »
Re-reading Jan Potocki's The Manuscript Found at Saragossa, which, back in the deeps of Time, our Cato recommended. Although very different in content to Tom Jones, I enjoy it in a roughly similar way.
That’s one book I love...I first read it after seeing a clever stage adaptation by Francisco Nieva here in Madrid some 20  years ago. Potocki’s technique of “a story within a story within a story” (almost ad infinitum) is fascinating, and the text is very evocative and atmospheric. The 1965 Polish film adaptation by Wojciech Has did little for me, but a French TV miniseries directed by Philippe Ducrest (La duchesse d’Avila, from 1968) had its merits.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9677 on: February 27, 2020, 02:20:39 PM »
The story within a story with so much levels of nesting that one loses count is an exaggeration of a technique already common in the Arabian Nights. It's been several years that I read it but I loved the Potocki and highly recommend it. Not sure how it could really work as a film. While it's not really about books (like Neverending Story or Name of the Rose with famous movie adaptations I rather disliked, partly for the reason that a movie cannot capture the "bookishness") the mentioned narrative technique does not seem to lend itself to film.
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Offline Brian

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9678 on: March 02, 2020, 12:39:08 PM »
So the "honorable" sir Thomas is a slave master and human trafficker who renounces his own daughter to avoid "embarrassment" to his neighborhood.

The book is an inditement of the despicable exploitation that supports the landed gentry in England. Now that I think of it, I'm starting to like the book better.

Exactly. I just re-read Mansfield Park in January, and the thing that's a struggle is that it's just a vicious read. I'd skim over a paragraph thinking it would be boring descriptions of party planning, then my eye would catch onto a word like a fish hook, and I'd go back and discover that Austen was just seething with sarcasm. Mansfield Park is about as genteel as a knife fight. The fact of slavery hovers over everything Sir Thomas touches - and another thing, too, especially with Fanny's beau, the absolute buffoonery and uselessness of the Church of England on moral issues like slavery. Fanny and Edmund are a uniquely loserly pair of "heroes"; they wind up together because they are useless to anyone else. I don't think Austen had much love for them at all.

The enormous and lengthy subplot about staging the play was - even after I pulled up the play's Wiki and read the scandalous plot summary - not interesting.

EDIT: In her fascinating and highly recommendable (if occasionally far-fetched - but in a quite thought-provoking way) book, "Jane Austen, the Secret Radical," Helena Kelly points out that Mansfield Park received almost no reviews and comment after its publication, and even a column late in Austen's life celebrating her body of work omitted it. The general consensus has been that it's because of the book's weakness; but Kelly, and based on some comments in letters possibly Austen herself, believed it was because of the anti-Church agenda hidden behind Edmund.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2020, 12:44:09 PM by Brian »

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #9679 on: March 03, 2020, 02:13:57 PM »
finished a couple of quickies:



That How Golf Explains Trump book was actually better written and more substantial than the mere chuckle that the reviews and excerpts indicated. It starts with his petty cheating on the course, but goes on to detail shady purchases, vulgar makeovers, false advertising and claims, all the stiffed contractors and insulted locals, and ends by detailing where foreign policy aligns with his golf property interests. Some of the info was familiar but quite a bit was actually fresh. Its actually a well constructed psychological portrait by someone who knew him well and had access to many others who knew or know him well. No kidding: highly recommended.