Lilisin in 2023!

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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Lilisin in 2023!

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 20, 9:34 pm

Welcome to another reading year!

Last year was a year of experimentation and transition. My Japanese book club with a goal of reading one Japanese language book per month was a huge success and we ended up reading 10 books in Japanese last year! We only skipped one month because one member was falling behind and we abandoned the December pick because it was too difficult for our reading level.

However, because we read a lot in Japanese, and because I didn't want to mess up this momentum, I read less in English and French, and since I read slower in Japanese, that prevented me from reading more books last year. Of course, quantity is never the goal, but there are so many wonderful books that I want to get to that of course I don't want those to be left behind. Also, because it was a book club I was in, not all the books were my choice and we had to limit ourselves to reading capabilities, so many of the books chosen were not books I would typically read which meant, not less quality per-se, but less in my field of interest.

This year we have decided to continue the book club but to allow for more personal reading we will be having one month off every quarter leading to a goal of 9 books read this year for the club. We will also be attempting to up the difficulty level and page count.

As for personal reading I would like to read through my TBR pile this year. I have officially filled up my bookcases and so there is no need for me to look elsewhere for books. I will be focusing on a lot of the translated contemporary Japanese reads and the Penguin Classics and French classics I own.

I have high hopes for this year and am expecting it to be a strong one!

Books read in 2023:
1) Joseph Sheridan le Fanu : Uncle Silas
2) Emile Zola : Son excellence Eugene Rougon
3) Keisuke Hada : La Vie du bon côté (Scrap and Build)
4) Yuko Tsushima : Woman Running in the Mountains
5) Cao Xuequin : The Story of the Stone - Volume 5
6) Princess Der Ling : Two Years in the Forbidden City
7) Leo Tolstoy : Anna Karenina
8) Robert Macfarlane : The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot *abandoned
9) John Wyndham : The Midwich Cuckoos
10) Jules Verne : Le phare du bout du monde (Lighthouse at the End of the World)
11) Aki Shimazaki : Fuki-no-tô: L'ombre du chardon
12) Aki Shimazaki : Maïmaï: L'ombre du chardon
13) Pierre Corneille : Le Cid
14) S. C. Gwynne : Empire of the Summer Moon
15) Jules Verne : De la Terre à la Lune (From the Earth to the Moon)
16) Charlotte Bronte : Shirley
17) Emile Zola : La Curee (The Kill)
18) Amélie Nothomb : Premier Sang (First Blood)
19) Cédric Gras : Alpinistes de Mao (Mao's Alpinists)
20) Jules Verne : Autour de la lune (Round the Moon)
21) Nella Larsen : Passing
22) Shi Dan : Mémoires d'un eunuque dans la cité interdite (Memoirs of a Eunuch in the Forbidden City)
23) Shinsuke Numata : La Pêche au toc dans le Tôhoku
24) Bram Stoker : Dracula
25) Keyi Sheng : Un paradis
26) Robert Louis Stevenson : Treasure Island
27) Ira Ishida : Call-Boy
28) Shusaku Endo : Le Dernier souper et autres nouvelles

Books read in 2022 - 2021 - 2020 - 2019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

tammikuu 8, 10:16 pm

Hello, Lilisin--nice spooky start to the reading year.

tammikuu 8, 10:43 pm

Yay! glad to see your thread up! Hope you enjoyed your vacation! Look forward to following along as always and picking up your recommendations. Envious of your book club, sounds like so much fun to being a group really improving your language skills like that.

tammikuu 9, 7:44 am

I hope you had a great vacation, and I look forward to following along again this year. Because of Paul's Asian Reading Challenge last year, I read eight books by Japanese authors last year (in English, of course). That's a record for me.

tammikuu 9, 3:31 pm

Everything Japanese is new to me. So looking forward to your posts on Japanese lit. Happy New Year.

tammikuu 10, 6:35 am

>2 LolaWalser: A different way for me to start the year than usual but I think it was the perfect time for reading it!

>3 stretch: I had an amazing vacation exploring the north of Japan. It was a struggle to go back to work this morning because of it! Yes, being able to progress in reading Japanese has been wonderful. Looking forward to improving even more this year!

>4 labfs39: It was a great vacation, thank you! Eight books, wow! That makes me really happy to hear!

>5 dchaikin: That's how I feel about your threads: Everything is new to me! Thank you and happy new year to you as well.

tammikuu 11, 2:25 am

Let's practice writing reviews close to the reading end date, shall we?

1) Joseph Sheridan le Fanu : Uncle Silas

The tale of our young protagonist who comes to live under the protection of her Uncle Silas, a man who was ostracized by society when he was accused of murder. The family has split into two as to whether he is innocent or guilty, and it is up to our protagonist to figure out the truth within the arguments, the rumors, the paranoia, and manipulation from both sides.

A fun tale and journey that suffers only due to the problem of having a strong, rational, and calm modern woman as a reader. The protagonist's weak nature becomes insufferable at many points when she continuously ignores warning signs due to not taking time to actually think about them. I never asked her to play detective but the author has a tendency to have her be careful with one side but not the other which creates quite the convenience for the plot. It's almost like when you watch a tv show where one character says "I have to tell you something important" then the other character replies with basically "no time now to listen to your 5 second explanation that will save us hours of trouble! I must be going!". It becomes frustrating to read as it happens over and over again. I read the book in only four days due to a lot of train travel during my vacation and I wonder if this feature of the book was accentuated by the short reading span. Although I also wonder if I might not have slumped through the book if I had let the book take longer than a week to read. Hard to say.

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the book. I did, quite. I even gave it 4 stars out of 5. But while the tension was fun, the character was so weak, that I just couldn't help be annoyed by her. For example I much preferred Woman in White and My Cousin Rachel as great examples of books that have lots of tension where the characters aren't perfect and have weak moments, but at least use reasonable thought even if they sometimes end up being incorrect.

Still a recommended read though.

tammikuu 11, 7:03 am

Hello! Glad you had a good holiday and got some reading done on the trains.

I love this from your review: "A fun tale and journey that suffers only due to the problem of having a strong, rational, and calm modern woman as a reader."

tammikuu 12, 3:27 am

Having just posted my list of Japanese reads in the "Beauty of Lists" thread, I thought I'd take the time to record the French books I've read. Which isn't that much actually considering that I am French. I have read some major works though and you can see that I'm a big Jules Verne fan. I'm collecting all of Verne's adventure books and am leisurely having fun reading through them. I also own all of the Zola Rougon-Macquart cycle so am set up to read all of those as well. However, there is much missing and much needs to be read. Fortunately I will be pulling mostly from my TBR pile this year and as a result I think there will be many an addition to this list.

Multiple books read by single French author:
Jules Verne : Face au drapeau; L'étoile du Sud; Vingt mille lieues sous les mers; The Mysterious Island; La Chasse au météore; Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine; Voyage au centre de la terre; Un drame en Livonie; Les Indes noires; Robur Le Conquérant
Emile Zola : La Fortune des Rougon; Pot-Bouille; Le Ventre de Paris; Au bonheur des dames; Thérèse Raquin
Alexandre Dumas : Les Trois mousquetaires; Le Vicomte de Bragelonne; Le Comte de Monte-Cristo; La Reine Margot; Le Meneur de Loups
Victor Hugo : L'Homme qui rit; Le Dernier Jour d'un condamné; Notre-Dame de Paris; Les Misérables
Marguerite Duras : L'amant; L'Amant de la Chine du Nord; Un barrage contre le Pacifique
Jean-Marie Gustave le Clézio : L'Africain; Peuple du ciel, suivi de 'Les Bergers"
René Frégni : Où se perdent les hommes; On ne s'endort jamais seul; Elle danse dans le noir; Tu tomberas avec la nuit
Romain Gary : Les Racines Du Ciel; Les cerfs-volants
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry : Le Petit Prince; Vol de nuit
Sandrine Collette : Juste après la vague; Nothing But Dust
Honoré de Balzac : Le Père Goriot; Le Colonel Chabert
Emmanuel Carrère : La Classe de neige; L'Adversaire
Henri Troyat : La Neige en deuil; La Tête Sur Les Épaules
Colette : Chéri; Gigi

Only one book read by French author:
Edmond Rostand : Cyrano de Bergerac
Patrick Modiano : Rue des boutiques obscures
Tonino Bénacquista : Quelqu'un d'autre
Albert Camus : L'Etranger
Jean Meckert : Les Coups
Sébastien Japrisot : Un long dimanche de fiançailles
Celine Curiol : Voice Over
Guy de Maupassant : Une vie
Raymond Hesse : Vauriens, voleurs, assassins
Jeanne Benameur : Les Demeurées

Total books: 57 books

tammikuu 12, 11:52 am

I'm glad to see you here again this year! And also, "I have officially filled up my bookcases and so there is no need for me to look elsewhere for books." I love this and if I said this aloud around anyone who knows me, they would laugh themselves silly. I admire your restraint.

tammikuu 12, 10:59 pm

>9 lilisin: another lovely list! You've read some great stuff.

tammikuu 25, 2:10 am

I have finished the second book in Zola's Rougon-Macquart series. Despite having read a few of these books already (the ones in the middle mostly) I have decided to go back and read the series in suggested reading order (and I'll be reading them in the original French). I read the first book in 2021 and am only now reading the second book. I have promised myself that I will be more diligent about reading these in a timely manner.

I have also decided that there is already so much out there about these books that I'm not even going to attempt to summarize them myself. Nor will I be trying to do "reviews". After all, this thread, while fun to share with others, is at its base primarily a journal meant to mark my reading life for myself. So instead, I will be posting the wikipedia summaries with full spoilers so as I have a way to remember and mark what I've read.

After all, these books by Zola are, I feel, more about the journey than the plot. You could even say that I don't even know why these books are so good and so interesting. I don't think I could ever persuade someone to read this series by Zola if they weren't already curious about it. Zola's strength comes from taking the ordinary and bringing it to life in a manner that you feel like you are living in a documentary for the time it takes to turn the pages to the very last page. His characters are intriguing and his ability to set up a scene while juggling all the various characters is fascinating. I know I'm missing out by not being too familiar with the historical moments going on in the background -- especially with this book which is all about the political manoeverings going about during Napoleon's reign - but even so I'm entranced. That is Zola's mesmerizing ability to bring anyone into his world.

And so my Zola journey begins/continues/makes some progress.

2) Emile Zola : Son excellence Eugene Rougon

The novel opens in 1856 with Rougon's career at a low ebb. In conflict with the Emperor over an inheritance claim involving a relative of the Empress, Rougon resigns from his position as premier of the Corps législatif before he can be dismissed. This puts the plans and dreams of Rougon's friends in limbo, as they are counting on his political influence to win various personal favors. His greatest ally and his greatest adversary is Clorinde Balbi, an Italian woman of dubious background and devious intent. Clorinde desires power as much as Rougon does but, because she is a woman, she is forced to act behind the scenes. Rougon refuses to marry her because he believes two such dominant personalities would inevitably destroy each other. Instead, he encourages her to marry M. Delestang, a man of great wealth who can easily be wheedled, while he himself takes a respectable nonentity of a wife who will not hinder his ambition.

Rougon learns of an assassination plot against the Emperor, but decides to do nothing about it. In consequence, after the attempt is made (the Orsini incident of 1858), the Emperor makes him Minister of the Interior with power to maintain peace and national security at any cost. Rougon uses this as an opportunity to punish his political adversaries, deport anti-imperialists by the hundreds, and reward his loyal friends with honors, commissions, and political appointments. Through his influence, Delestang is made Minister of Agriculture and Commerce.

As Rougon's power expands, however, his cronies begin to desert him despite his fulfilling their personal requests. They feel that he has not done enough for them and what he has done either has not been good enough or has had consequences so disastrous as to be no help at all. Moreover, they consider him ungrateful, given all the work they claim to have done to have him reinstated as Minister. Eventually, Rougon is involved in several great scandals based on the favors he has shown to his inner circle.

At the center of all this conflict is Clorinde. As Rougon's power has grown, so has hers, until she has influence at the highest level and on an international scale, including as the Emperor's mistress. Now having the upper hand, she is able to punish Rougon for his refusal to marry her. To silence political and personal opposition, Rougon decides to submit his resignation to the Emperor, confident that it will not be accepted. However, it is accepted, and Delestang is made Minister of the Interior, the implication being that both actions are founded on Clorinde’s authority over the Emperor.

The novel ends in 1862. The Emperor has returned Rougon to service as Minister without Portfolio, giving him unprecedented powers in the wake of Italian unification. Ostensibly, the appointment is meant to reconfigure the country on less imperialistic, more liberal lines, but in reality Rougon has a free hand to crush resistance, curtail opposition, and control the press.

tammikuu 25, 2:23 am

And because I never actually talked about my having read the first book when I read it I will post the summary here for my own purposes.

Emile Zola : La Fortune des Rougon

After a stirring opening on the eve of the coup d'état, involving an idealistic young village couple joining up with the republican militia in the middle of the night, Zola then spends the next few chapters going back in time to pre-Revolutionary Provence, and proceeds to lay the foundations for the entire Rougon-Macquart cycle. The fictional town of Plassans is established as the setting for the novel and described in intimate detail, and then we are introduced to the eccentric heroine Adelaide Fouque, later known as "Tante Dide", who becomes the common ancestor for both the Rougon and Macquart families. Her legitimate son from her short marriage to her late husband, a labourer named Rougon who worked on Dide's land, is forced to grow up alongside two illegitimate children — a boy and a girl — from Dide's later romance with the smuggler, poacher and alcoholic Macquart, while the ageing Dide slides further and further into a state of mental illness and borderline senile dementia.

The narrative continues along double lines, following both "branches" of the family. We see Pierre Rougon (the legitimate son) in his attempts to disinherit his Macquart half-siblings, his marriage to Felicité Puech, the voraciously ambitious daughter of a local merchant, and their continued failure to establish the fortune, fame and renown they seek, despite their greed and relatively comfortable lifestyles. Approaching old age, the Rougon couple finally admit defeat and settle, crushed, into their lower middle class destinies, until by a remarkable stroke of luck their eldest son Eugène reports from Paris that he has some news that they might find interesting. Eugène has become one of the closest allies of the future Emperor Napoleon III and informs his parents that a coup is imminent. Having been effectively given insider information about which side to back in the coming revolution, the Rougons then make a series of seemingly bold moves to show their loyal and steadfast support for Napoleon III, winning the admiration of the most influential people in the town, mostly royalists who are themselves afraid of showing too much commitment for fear of backing the "wrong horse" and losing their standing and fortune.

The narrative then switches over to the Macquart side of the family, whose grim working-class struggles to survive are juxtaposed keenly with the Rougons' seemingly trivial quest for greater wealth and influence in genteel drawing-room society. Descended from a drunken ne'er-do-well and a madwoman, Zola effectively predestines the Macquarts to lives of toil and misery.

A third branch of the family, the Mourets, descended from Macquart and Dide's daughter, are then introduced before the novel's focus is brought back to the "present", the night of the coup, via a quite brilliantly told love story. The idealistic but naïve Silvère Mouret falls madly in love with the innocent Miette Chantegreil, and after a long courtship they decide to join up with the republicans to fight the coup. The rest of the novel then picks up from where the opening chapter left off, and from then on is basically a dual narrative telling the story of the old Rougon couple and their increasingly Machiavellian machinations to get themselves into a position of fortune and respect in Plassans, juxtaposed with Silvère and Miette's continuing love story and the doomed republican militia's disastrous attempt to take the town back. Eventually, the Rougons exploit their half-brother Antoine Macquart into inadvertently helping crush the republican threat, and they achieve their life's ambition, fortune and favour. For Silvère and Miette, who committed themselves so completely to a doomed cause, there can be no such happy ending and Zola wisely leaves their half of the story at a bleak dead end.

tammikuu 25, 7:32 am

>12 lilisin: Zola's strength comes from taking the ordinary and bringing it to life in a manner that you feel like you are living in a documentary for the time it takes to turn the pages to the very last page. His characters are intriguing and his ability to set up a scene while juggling all the various characters is fascinating.

Nice. Congrats on finishing no. 2!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 3:40 am

Anna Karenina: Part 1

I find myself reading Anna Karenina again. Well, kind of again. Let me explain.

I had once started reading this book for the first time about 5 years ago. It was the beginning of rainy season and I didn't want to carry around a book and risk it getting damaged. So I downloaded the Constance Garnet translation from Project Gutenberg and put it on my phone with the intention of reading it during my commute. At just 10 minutes each way, I didn't expect to get very far and the ebook is 740 pages. But I found myself speeding through the book as it was so enchanting and engaging. I was really enjoying myself.

And then rainy season ended and I started riding my bike to work instead. In fact, riding my bike to work was so enjoyable that I switched to making that my commuting method instead of the train. And with that I lost the ability to read on my phone. So at about page 500 or so out of 740 I stopped reading Anna Karenina.

It has bothered me ever since. I know how the book ends so technically I didn't need to read to the end to discover what happens. But still, I was enjoying the book and I wanted to finish it. So last week during a slow period at work I tried reading where I left off and it wasn't working. So I decided to start at the beginning again.

And now I've read Part 1 and want to paste some passages of interest to me.

Ch3, 7/740
Stepan Arkadyevitch had not chosen his political opinions or his views; these political opinions and views had come to him of themselves, just as he did not choose the shapes of his hat and coat, but simply took those that were being worn. And for him, living in a certain society—owing to the need, ordinarily developed at years of discretion, for some degree of mental activity—to have views was just as indispensable as to have a hat.

Ch11, 39/740
Levin: there are women and there are … I’ve never seen exquisite fallen beings, and I never shall see them, but such creatures as that painted Frenchwoman at the counter with the ringlets are vermin to my mind, and all fallen women are the same

Ch25, 81/740
Nikolay Levin went on talking:
You know that capital oppresses the laborer. the laborers with us, the peasants, bear all the burden of labor, and are so placed that however much they work they can’t escape from their position of beasts of burden. All the profits of labor, on which they might improve their position, and gain leisure for themselves, and after that education, all the surplus values are taken from them by the capitalists. And society’s so constituted that the harder they work, the greater the profit of the merchants and landowners, while they stay beasts of burden to the end.. And that state of things must be changed," he finished up, and he looked questioningly at his brother.

Ch26, 85/740
Levin's thinking:
Then, too, his brother’s talk of communism, which he had treated so lightly at the time, now made him think. He considered a revolution in economic conditions nonsense. But he always felt the injustice of his own abundance in comparison with the poverty of the peasants, and now he determined that so as to feel quite in the right, though he had worked hard and lived by no means luxuriously before, he would now work still harder, and would allow himself even less luxury.

Ch26, 86/740
All these traces of his life seemed to clutch him, and to say to him (Levin): "No, you’re not going to get away from us, and you’re not going to be different, but you’re going to be the same as you’ve always been; with doubts, everlasting dissatisfaction with yourself, vain efforts to amend, and falls, and everlasting expectation, of a happiness which you won’t get, and which isn’t possible for you."

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 9, 5:22 am

Anna Karenina: Part 2

I have finished part 2 and continue to enjoy rereading what I had already before. 20 pages per day is an excellent pace I find to keep totally intrigued by the plot but not get bogged down in all the emotions of sadness and lament. Levin continues to be my favorite character despite his classism and other issues.

To recap Part 1, which I failed to do in the previous post, we were introduced to all the main characters and their relations to each other:

Count Alexey Krillovitch Vronsky
Alexey Alexandrovitch Karenin + Anna Arkadyevna = Seryozha (son)
Stiva - Anna (siblings)
Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch Oblonsky (Stiva) + Darya Alexandrovna (Dolly)
Darya - Kitty Schterbasky - Prince Schterbasky - Natalie (siblings)
Konstantin Dmitrievitch Levin - Sergey Ivanovitch Konishev - Nikolai Levin (brothers)

Stiva and his wife Dolly are having marital problems due to Stiva's affair with the governess. Anna comes in to visit to repair their marriage and accidentally invites the eye of Vronsky, who was initially pursuing Dolly's sister, Kitty, for "shits and giggles" more or less. Vronsky drops Kitty for Anna, which in turn leaves Kitty in devastation as she turned down the marriage proposal of Levin, as she expected a proposal from Vronsky instead. Now Kitty is left with zero suitors and Levin goes back to the countryside to be an unexpected bachelor. Unhappiness everywhere! Foreshadowing in part 1 outlines the entire plot of the novel henceforth.

In Part 2, Kitty is ill from love-sickness and is off to Europe to regain her spirts with her mother. She meets a certain Madame Stahl and Varenka and becomes fascinated by their way of life until her father ruins the fun when he reveals that Madame Stahl is a fraud. But Kitty is at least feeling better now. Anna and Alexey begin their affair, Anna immediately becomes pregnant, and reveals her pregnancy to Vronsky on the day of the races. Vronsky falls off the horse, Anna is devastated by this event, and she reveals her affair to Alexey. Alexey, incapable of communicating his true feelings remains stoic and tells Anna to hold still until he figures out a means in which to keep his honor. Levin accepts his new life without a wife and finds comfort in the countryside where he is determined to show the peasants how things are done.

Ch4, 117/740
He (Vronsky) was very well aware that he ran no risk of being ridiculous in the eyes of Betsy or any other fashionable people. He was very well aware that in their eyes the position of an unsuccessful lover of a girl, or of any woman free to marry, might be ridiculous. But the position of a man pursuing a married woman, and, regardless of everything, staking his life on drawing her into adultery, has something fine and grand about it, and can never be ridiculous

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 17, 3:48 am

Anna Karenina: Part 3

I have now finished part 3 and I remember how engrossing this part was as it heavily features Levin and his desparate fight with the peasants, which I find incredibly fascinating and also endearing and I sympathize with his efforts. It reminds me of when I was a substitute teacher, wanting to save "the children" from their own fates (I was teaching in schools with quite low education standards) and it was frustrating seeing the students sticking sticks in their own bike wheels. To not do that was so obvious to me but the students couldn't see it, wouldn't see it, and it was a great level of stress to me. In any case, time to recap part 3.

In Part 3 Levin fights with the peasants trying to develop the best strategy for efficient farming, ignoring Kitty who is visiting the region, and sent into inner turmoil upon seeing his brother's physical state. He then decides to leave to Europe to study farming methods abroad. Meanwhile, Alexy Alexandrovitch waves their son in front of Anna when he tells her that he will not divorce her and fully expects her to stop her affair and continue to the play the wife role as expected per society.

Ch1, 215/740
It made him (Levin) uncomfortable, and it positively annoyed him to see his brother’s attitude to the country. To Konstantin Levin the country was the background of life, that is of pleasures, endeavors, labor. To Sergey Ivanovitch the country meant on one hand rest from work, on the other a valuable antidote to the corrupt influences of town, which he took with satisfaction and a sense of its utility. To Konstantin Levin the country was good first because it afforded a field for labor, of the usefulness of which there could be no doubt. To Sergey Ivanovitch the country was particularly good, because there it was possible and fittng to do nothing. Moreover, Sergey Ivanovitch’s attitude to the peasants rather piqued Konstantin. Sergey Ivanovitch used to say that he knew and liked the peasantry, and he often talked to the peasants, which he knew how to do without affectation or condescension, and from every such conversation he would deduce general conclusions in favor of the peasantry and in confirmation of his knowing them. Konstantin Levin did not like such an atttude to the peasants. To Konstantin the peasant was simply the chief partner in their common labor, and in spite of all the respect and the love, almost like that of kinship, he had for the peasant -- sucked in probably, as he said himself, with the milk of his peasant nurse -- still as a fellow-worker with him, while sometimes enthusiastic over the vigor, gentleness, and justice of these men, he was very often, when their common labors called for other qualities, exasperated with the peasant for his carelessness, lack of method, drunkenness, and lying. If he had been asked whether he liked or didn’t like the peasants, Konstantin Levin would have been absolutely at a loss what to reply. He liked and did not like the peasants, just as he liked and did not like men in general. Of course, being a good-hearted man, he liked men rather than he disliked them, and so too with the peasants. But like or dislike "the people" as something apart he could not, not only because he lived with "the people," and all his interests were bound up with theirs, but also because he regarded himself as a part of "the people," did not see any special qualities or failings distinguishing himself and "the people," and could not contrast himself with them. Moreover, although he had lived so long in the closest relations with the peasants, as farmer and arbitrator, and what was more, as adviser (the peasants trusted him, and for thirty miles round they would come to ask his advice), he had no definite views of "the people," and would have been as much at a loss to answer the question whether he knew "the people" as the question whether he liked them. For him to say he knew the peasantry would have been the same as to say he knew men. He was continually watching and getting to know people of all sorts, and among them peasants, whom he regarded as good and interesting people, and he was continually observing new points in them, altering his former views of them and forming new ones. With Sergey Ivanovitch it was quite the contrary. Just as he liked and praised a country life in comparison with the life he did not like, so too he liked the peasantry in contradistinction to the class of men he did not like, and so too he knew the peasantry as something distinct from and opposed to men generally. In his methodical brain there were distinctly formulated certain aspects of peasant life, deduced partly from that life itself, but chiefly from contrast with other modes of life. He never changed his opinion of the peasantry and his sympathetic attitude towards them.

Ch13, 253/740
He experienced the sensations of a man who has had a tooth out after suffering long from toothache. After a fearful agony and a sense of something huge, bigger than the head itself, being torn out of his jaw, the sufferer, hardly able to believe in his own good luck, feels all at once that what has so long poisoned his existence and enchained his attention, exists no longer, and that he can live and think again, and take interest in other things besides his tooth. This feeling Alexey Alexandrovitch was experiencing. The agony had been strange and terrible, but now it was over; he felt that he could live again and think of something other than his wife.

Ch13, 256/740
"I (Alexey Alexandrovitch) cannot be unhappy, but neither she nor he ought to be happy." The feeling of jealousy, which had tortured him during the period of uncertainty, had passed away at the instant when the tooth had been with agony extracted by his wife's words. But that feeling had been replaced by another, the desire, not merely that she should not be triumphant, but that she should get due punishment for her crime. He did not acknowledge this feeling, but at the bottom of his heart he longed for her to suffer for having destroyed his peace of mind -- his honor.

Ch21, 283/740
"And here’s my (Serpuhovskoy; friend of Vronsky) opinion for you (Vronsky). Women are the chief stumbling block in a man’s career. It’s hard to love a woman and do anything. There’s only one way of having love conveniently without its being a hindrance -- that’s marriage. Yes, just as you can only carry a fardeau and do something with your hands, when the fardeau is tied on your back, and that’s marriage. And that’s what I felt when I was married. My hands were suddenly set free. But to drag that fardeau about with you without marriage, your hands will always be so full that you can do nothing."

Ch24, 291/740
The sort of farming he (Levin was carrying on was nothing but a cruel and stubborn struggle between him and the laborers, in which there was on one side -- his side -- a continual intense effort to change everything to a pattern he considered better; on the other side, the natural order of things. And in this struggle he saw that with immense expenditure of force on his side, and with no effort or even intention on the other side, all that was attained was that the work did not go to the liking of either side, and that splendid tools, splendid cattle and land were spoiled with no good to anyone.

He was struggling for every farthing of his share (and he could not help it, for he had only to relax his efforts, and he would not have had the money to pay his laborers’ wages), while they were only struggling to be able to do their work easily and agreeably, that is to say, as they were used to doing it. It was for his interests that every laborer should work as hard as possible, and that while doing so he should keep his wits about him, so as to try not to break the winnowing machines, the horse rakes, the thrashing machines, that he should attend to what he was doing. What the laborer wanted was to work as pleasantly as possible, with rests, and above all, carelessly and heedlessly, without thinking.

All they wanted was to work merrily and carelessly, and his interests were not only remote and incomprehensible to them, but fatally opposed to their most just claims.

Ch26, 299/740
"I hear a very interesting conversation," he (Levin) added, and walked to the other end of the table, where Sviazhsky was sitting with the two gentlemen of the neighborhood. Sviazhsky was sitting sideways, with one elbow on the table, and a cup in one hand, while with the other hand he gathered up his beard, held it to his nose and let it drop again, as though he were smelling it.

Ch27, 300/740
"The only gain is that I (gentleman talking with Levin) live in my own house, neither bought nor hired. Besides, one keeps hoping the people will learn sense. Though, instead of that, you’d never believe it -- the drunkenness, the immorality! They keep chopping and changing their bits of land. Not a sight of a horse or a cow. The peasant’s dying of hunger, but just go and take him on as a laborer, he’ll do his best to do you a mischief, and then bring you up before the justice of the peace."

Ch28, 306/740
"But I (Sviazhsky, friend of Levin) really don’t know what it is you are surprised at. The people are at such a low stage of rational and moral development, that it’s obvious they’re bound to oppose everything that’s strange to them. In Europe, a rational system answers because the people are educated; it follows that we must educate the people -- that’s all."

Ch29, 309/740
On beginning to talk to the peasants about it, and making a proposition to cede them the land on new terms, he (Levin) came into collision with the same great difficulty that they were so much absorbed by the current work of the day, that they had not time to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed scheme.

Another difficulty lay in the invincible disbelief of the peasant that a landowner's object could be anything else than a desire to squeeze all he could out of them. They were firmly convinced that his real aim (whatever he might say to them) would always be in what he did not say to them. And they themselves, in giving their opinion, said a great deal but never said what was their real object.

Moreover (Levin felt that the irascible landowner had been right) the peasants made their first and unalterable condition of any agreement whatever that they should not be forced to any new methods of tillage of any kind, nor to use new implements. They agreed that the modern plough ploughed better, that the scarifier did the work more quickly, but they found thousands of reasons that made it out of the question for them to use either of them; and though he had accepted the conviction that he would have to lower the standard of cultivation, he felt sorry to give up improved methods, the advantages of which were so obvious. But in spite of all these difficulties he got his way, and by autumn the system was working, or at least so it seemed to him.

helmikuu 21, 1:12 am

Anna Karenina: Part 4

As with my first reading of Anna Karenina I am holding a steady pace! Again, I do think 20 pages per day or one part per week is perfect as any more and I think the characters would exhaust me a bit. Today, to finish part 4 I read 50 pages and even though I have plenty of reading time left I shall leave AK to the side and pick up part 5 tomorrow. I truly felt for Anna's husband this part and despite always looking with a side eye 32 year old Levin's "love" for 18 year old Kitty, I look forward to seeing her and Levin's new life in the countryside. There will be much to adapt to. Also, I think somewhere during part 5 is where I stopped reading the first time around so I will soon be entering unread territory.

When Anna and Vronsky continue seeing each other, Karenin consults with a lawyer about obtaining a divorce. During the time period, a divorce in Russia could only be requested by the innocent party in an affair and required either that the guilty party confessed or that the guilty party be discovered in the act of adultery. Karenin forces Anna to hand over some of Vronsky's love letters, which the lawyer deems insufficient as proof of the affair. Stiva and Dolly argue against Karenin's drive for a divorce.

Karenin changes his plans after hearing that Anna is dying after the difficult birth of her daughter, Annie. At her bedside, Karenin forgives Vronsky. However, Vronsky, embarrassed by Karenin's magnanimity, unsuccessfully attempts suicide by shooting himself. As Anna recovers, she finds that she cannot bear living with Karenin despite his forgiveness and his attachment to Annie. When she hears that Vronsky is about to leave for a military posting in Tashkent, she becomes desperate. Anna and Vronsky reunite and flee to Italy, leaving behind Seryozha and Karenin's offer of divorce.

Meanwhile, Stiva acts as a matchmaker with Levin: he arranges a meeting between him and Kitty, which results in their reconciliation and engagement.

Ch3, 325/740
He (Vronsky) looked at her (Anna) as a man looks at a faded flower he has gathered, with difficulty recognizing in it the beauty for which he picked and ruined it. And in spite of this he felt that then, when his love was stronger, he could, if he had greatly wished it, have torn that love out of his heart; but now, when as at that moment it seemed to him he felt no love for her, he knew that what bound him to her could not be broken.

Ch10, 351/740
The government obviously is guided by abstract considerations, and remains indifferent to the influence its measures may exercise. The education of women, for instance, would naturally be regarded as likely to be harmful, but the government opens schools and universities for women." And the conversation at once passed to the new subject of the education of women. Alexey Alexandrovitch expressed the idea that the education of women is apt to be confounded with the emancipation of women, and that it is only so that it can be considered dangerous.
"I consider, on the contrary, that the two questions are inseparably connected together," said Pestsov; "it is a vicious circle. Woman is deprived of rights from lack of education, and the lack of education results from the absence of rights. We must not forget that the subjection of women is so complete, and dates from such ages back that we are often unwilling to recognize the gulf that separates them from us," said he.

maaliskuu 6, 3:47 am

Anna Karenina: Part 5

Turns out I have read part 5 before. I calculated that I stopped reading AK last time after having read about 70% of it. Oops!

Vronsky and Anna are abroad in Italy: Vronsky bored, Anna innocently presuming his enjoyment of their togetherness. Vronsky tries to pick up painting, a former pasttime of is, on the encouragement of Anna but hsi lack of artistic ability and Vronsky's anxiousness to dip back into his former life ends their time in Italy and they head back to Russia.

Upon returning to Russia, Vronsky is able to take up his old life again as usual but Anna is confronted with a society that doesn't accept her and doesn't want her. She manages to see her son, Seryozha, on his birthday for a brief moment, despite the attempt by her husband's "new friend", Countess Lidia Ivanovna, to interfere, having told Seryozha that his mother is dead.

Upon an unpleasant theatre experience where Anna is brushed off by former friends, she and Vronsky leave the city once again.

In the meantime Levin and Kitty have started their new married life. Kitty elects to skip their honeymoon and jump directly into her wifely duties. Levin hates her constant need to be with him because lo and behold she has a personality and he needs his alone time to maintain his former bachelor life. But her "neediness" proves useful when she lovingly takes care of his dying brother, Nikolai. Levin grows a little as a man as he starts to love her more now. Nikolai dies. Kitty is pregnant.

Ch8, 417/740
The thought of the harm caused to her (Anna) husband aroused in her a feeling like repulsion, and akin to what a drowning man might feel who has shaken off another man clinging to him. That man did drown. It was an evil action, of course, but it was the sole means of escape, and better not to brood over these fearful facts.

Ch8, 419/740
Vronsky, meanwhile, in spite of the complete realization of what he had so long desired, was not perfectly happy. He soon felt that the realization of his desires gave him no more than a grain of sand out of the mountain of happiness he had expected. It showed him the mistake men make in picturing to themselves happiness as the realization of their desires. For a time after joining his life to hers, and putting on civilian dress, he had felt all the delight of freedom in general of which he had known nothing before, and of freedom in his love, and he was content, but not for long. He was soon aware that there was springing up in his heart a desire for desires--ennui. Without conscious intention he began to clutch at every passing caprice, taking it for a desire and an object.

Ch9, 421/740
"When he (Mihailov, as explained by Golenishtchev, friend of Vronsky) got into the academy and made his reputation he tried, as he's no fool, to educate himself. And he turned to what seemed to him the very source of culture--the magazines. In old times, you see, a man who wanted to educate himself--a Frenchman, for instance--would have set to work to study all the classics and theologians and tragedians and historiaris and philosophers, and, you know, all the intellectual work that came in his way. But in our day he goes straight for the literature of negation, very quickly assimilates all the extracts of the science of negation, and he's ready. And that's not all--twenty years ago he would have found in that literature traces of conflict with authorities, with the creeds of the ages; he would have perceived from this conflict that there was something else; but now he comes at once upon a literature in which the old creeds do not even furnish matter for discussion, but it is stated baldly that there is nothing else -- evolution, natural selection, struggle for existence--and that's all."

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 10, 3:01 am

Anna Karenina: Part 6

I have finally reached fresh content that I haven't read before. Only two more parts to go!

FULL SPOILERS BELOW (Copy and Pasted from Wikipedia)
Dolly, her children, and her mother, the Princess Shcherbatskaya, spend the summer with Kostya and Kitty. The couple's life is simple and unaffected, although Kostya is uneasy at the "invasion" of so many Shcherbatskys. He becomes extremely jealous when one of the visitors, Veslovsky, flirts openly with the pregnant Kitty. Kostya tries to overcome his jealousy, and briefly succeeds during a hunt with Veslovsky and Oblonsky, but eventually succumbs to his feelings and asks Veslovsky to leave. Veslovsky immediately goes to stay with Anna and Vronsky at their nearby estate.

When Dolly visits Anna, she is struck by the difference between Kostya and Kitty's aristocratic-yet-simple home life and Vronsky's overtly luxurious and lavish country estate. She is also unable to keep pace with Anna's fashionable dresses or Vronsky's extravagant spending on a hospital he is building. In addition, all is not quite well with Anna and Vronsky. Dolly notices Anna's anxious behaviour and her uncomfortable flirtations with Veslovsky. Vronsky makes an emotional request to Dolly, asking her to convince Anna to divorce Karenin so that the two might marry and live normally.

Anna has become intensely jealous of Vronsky and cannot bear when he leaves her, even for short excursions. When Vronsky leaves for several days of provincial elections, Anna becomes convinced that she must marry him to prevent him from leaving her. After Anna writes to Karenin again seeking a divorce, she and Vronsky leave the countryside for Moscow.

Ch16, 546/740
"And they attack Anna. What for? am I any better? I have, anyway, a husband I love not as I should like to love him, still I do love him, while Anna never loved hers. How is she to blame? She wants to live. God has put that in our hearts. Very likely I should have done the same. Even to this day I don't feel sure I did right in listening to her at that terrible time when she came to me in Moscow. I ought then to have cast off my husband and have begun my life fresh. I might have loved and have been loved in reality. And is it any better as it is? I don't respect him. He's necessary to me," she thought about her husband, "and I put up with him. Is that any better? At that time I could still have been admired, I had beauty left me still," Darya Alexandrovna pursued her thoughts.

Ch25, 577/740
Anna devoted just as much care to her appearance when they had no visitors, and she did a great deal of reading, both of novels and of what serious literature was in fashion. She ordered all the books that were praised in the foreign papers and reviews she received, and read them with that concentrated attention which is only given to what is read in seclusion. Moreover, every subject that was of interest to Vronsky, she studied in books and special journals, so that he often went straight to her with questions relating to agriculture or architecture, sometimes even with questions relating to horse-breeding or sport. He was amazed at her knowledge, her memory, and at first was disposed to doubt it, to ask for confirmation of her facts; and she would find what he asked for in some book, and show it to him.

maaliskuu 10, 3:39 am

You’re making good progress!

maaliskuu 11, 8:06 am

>21 wandering_star:

Yes, about 20-25 pages a day during the week has been the perfect pace and surprisingly shows how quickly you can read a book with just a little bit of consistency even with a low page count!

maaliskuu 11, 8:17 am

8) Robert Macfarlane : The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot *abandoned

While reading Anna Karenina I was trying to read this nonfiction which I have decided today to abandon after 100 pages (out of 364) as it is not the book I hoped it would be when I purchased it. I found this book after a google search for the best travelogues and this was consistently on the best of lists. (I think I will stop looking up best of lists after a couple failures: for example, the best novella list I found where I didn't like any of the books that were recommended.)

The blurb was incredibly intriguing which is why I went ahead with the internet recommendation:
Following the tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast ancient network of routes criss-crossing the British Isles and beyond, Robert Macfarlane discovers a lost world -- a landscape of the feet and the mind, of pilgrimage and ritual, of stories and ghosts; above all, of the places and journeys which inspire and inhabit our imaginations.

My issue with this book is that it's not personal enough. I was hoping for MacFarlane to embark on a long walking journey through the British Isles and have him discover these wonderful paths for us, and to share the beauty he explores while sharing his exploits.

But it feels more like a history of path-exploring itself with mostly references to the work of other people, only barely interspersed with his own journeys, that aren't presented in any linear fashion. When he does talk about himself it's full of wit and a fun bit of humor and we definitely see his sense of adventure, as well as his fairly stupid dismissal of any concept of preparation and self-preservation.

But I wanted more of that and didn't get it. I found my eyes skimming through all the other bits to get to his parts but even then it ended up not being enough to keep my attention. Pity.

Also, a couple of maps would have been a much needed addition to this book as there is nothing to help us locate him.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 11, 8:40 am

6) Princess Der Ling : Two Years in the Forbidden City

This is a memoir written by Princess der Ling, Empress Dowager's Cixi's favorite lady-in waiting. I read this now because last year I read the wonderful memoir, Empress Dowager Cixi about the empress, by Jung Chang, and so this provided a perfect companionship piece to solidify parts of what I had read in the memoir. This memoir is less about the political inclinations of the empress but instead presents you an insight on court life, primarily at the Summer Palace, during the two years that Der Ling was by the empress's side.

The most interesting aspect is the fact that Der Ling, despite being Chinese, actually spent much time abroad, primarily in Paris, as her father was a diplomat working there. This made her a very favorable additional to the court as the empress used her as a way to manage and direct any foreigners that might visit the palace. Her foreign upbringing also gave her a unique perspective on court life that aided both the empress, but also gives us a wonderful insight as to the comings-and-goings.

Some of my favorite passages are when Der Ling shows the lack of critical thinking skills from the purely Chinese other ladies-in-waiting.

Soon after Li Lien Ying had gone, two court ladies, daughters of Prince Ching, came in and asked the eunuchs who were attending us if we could speak Chinese, which we thought a great joke. I was the first one to speak, and told them of course we could speak our own language, although we knew several others. They were very much surprised and said: "Oh! how funny, they can talk the language as well as we do." We in turn were very much surprised to find such ignorant people in the Imperial Palace and concluded that their opportunities for acquiring knowledge were very limited.


This day to me was a medley of brilliant impressions. I was a great novelty among these exclusive Court ladies, brought up rigidly apart from foreign life and customs, and I was subjected to a rapid fire of questions. I soon found that these women were the same as others the world over in point of curiosity and love of gossip. The fourth daughter of Prince Ching (Sze Gurgur), a young widow and a strikingly handsome woman, spoke to me.

"Were you brought up in Europe and educated?" she asked. "I am told that when people go to that country and drink the water there, they quickly forget their own country. Did you really study to acquire all those languages or was it drinking the water that gave them to you?" I mentioned that I met her brother, Prince Tsai Chen, in Paris on his way to London for the coronation of King Edward, and that we should have liked to have gone also, as my father had a special invitation, but were prevented from doing so by his urgent duties in Paris in settling the Yunnan question, to which the Princess replied: "Is there a king in England? I had thought that our Empress Dowager was Queen of the world."

Glad to see these types of questions have existed since the dawn of time. (As a foreigner in Japan I have been asked if there are mountains in America, if we have a winter, if we have a spring. A coworker asked me if all foreigners don't drink alcohol after seeing that I, a foreigner, at a sample size of one, was not drinking alcohol. I of course have also heard many Americans ask super ignorant questions about countries abroad.)

My only critique is something that was brought up by Jung Chang. The whole reason Jung Chang wrote her memoir was to give credit to and present the Empress in a different light, not as the "dragon-lady who almost destroyed China" but as a woman who actually revolutionized and modernized China but admittedly made a huge mistake with the Boxer Rebellion. However the blurb to the back of the book immediately mentions that quote and Graham Earnshaw writes an incredibly negative foreword of how the empress is only responsible for the decline of China and nothing else but in his last paragraph he gives us the chance to make our own judgement as "it is really for you, the reader, to take your own view". Of course, not before he spent several pages inserting his negative bias.

A must read for anyone interested in this time period and is curious about the inner workings of the Chinese court while looking at two fascinating women.

maaliskuu 11, 10:37 am

>24 lilisin: I have had Empress Dowager Cixi unread on my shelves for ages. Now I want to read it and Two Years in the Forbidden City both as they seem to pair exceedingly well.

maaliskuu 12, 8:03 pm

>25 labfs39:

I have one more nonfiction book about this subject which is a memoir from the point of a view of a eunuque at the palace. After that I will need to look for another part of China's history to read about.

maaliskuu 14, 7:38 am

>26 lilisin: Have you travelled in China, Lilisin?

huhtikuu 12, 4:10 am

Anna Karenina: Part 7

I spent 5 days in Seoul and then work picked up so I wasn't able to read for a bit but I have now finished part 7.

In Moscow due to Kitty's pregnancy, Levin is finally able to put way his jealous past upon meeting Vronsky and see Vronsky as an equal. He also finally makes the aquaintance of Anna and is mesmerized by her. Fortunately he and Kitty end their trip to Moscow shortly after that and their child is born.

Anna succumbs to the most terrible disease, female paranoia that feeds on jealousy and leads to the most poisonous thoughts imaginable. She feels very little feeling to her own daughter, instead mothering an orphaned English girl, and resents Vronsky for losing her son. She also resents Vronsky ability to remain in society while she has been abandonned by it. She questions how a woman as charming as her, who can so easily seduce a man like Levin and with her intelligence, can lose the love of Vronsky. In truth, Vronsky very much still loves her but she is blinded by the jealousy acting as a thorn in both their sides.

With Karenin's denial of a divorce, and as a means of revenge towards Vronsky, a last attempt to call his attention, she throws herself under the rails of a train and dies.

Ch13, 630/740
And I (Anna) can’t write again. I can do nothing, can begin nothing, can alter nothing; I hold myself in, I wait, inventing amusements for myself—the English family, writing, reading—but it’s all nothing but a sham, it’s all the same as morphine. He ought to feel for me.

Ch26, 672/740
All the most cruel words that a brutal man could say, he said to her in her imagination, and she could not forgive him for them, as though he had actually said them.

huhtikuu 12, 4:13 am

>27 labfs39:

I was able to make my first trip to China at a pivotal time: Christmas, 2019. I remember my mother asking if we should be concerned about the virus going around to which I replied "what virus?". Thankfully we made it out before chaos ensued. We had a wonderful week of visiting Shanghai and nearby Suzhou, the "Venice of China". I really hope I can visit China again as I really loved it and there is so much more I would love to see. I only fear future visa issues as we sort of broke some of the rules of our visa: 1) not all of our hotels registered our information as they were supposed to, 2) Suzhou might have been out of the reach of where we were allowed to travel.

huhtikuu 12, 5:57 pm

>29 lilisin: I'm so glad you got out before things got hinky. China is such a big country, with so many climate regions and cultures, that it would be hard to narrow down an itinerary in one visit. I hope you are able to return.

huhtikuu 12, 8:03 pm

>29 lilisin: Wait, Chinese visas specify where you can go inside of the country?

huhtikuu 13, 2:49 am

>29 lilisin: How did you like Suzhou? I've wanted to go there ever since reading Vie et passion d'un gastronome chinois by Lu Wenfu... My daughter visited the town in her tour of China in 2018 (?) and it was very busy and touristy.

huhtikuu 13, 3:16 am

>31 AnnieMod:
We used a specific type of visa called the 144 hr transit visa which allows you to bypass going to an embassy. However, it comes with certain rules and requirements attached such as hotels registering your info, and limiting where you can go. It was a very convenient visa to use and I would recommend it.

>32 Dilara86:
We quite liked Suzhou. I can see how it could be very touristy, particularly during the summer, but as we went in the dead of winter we didn't have the problem of overtourism and we were able to appreciate all the sights and the beautiful museum and gardens. Finding places to eat (and eat actual good food) was the only issue that hassled us.

huhtikuu 13, 9:18 am

>33 lilisin: Oh good! Although it is a shame food was an issue.

heinäkuu 24, 1:59 am

I haven't been posting about my reading 'cause despite reading some good stuff, I don't feel like putting in the effort.

But I do have a book haul I don't mind talking about. I wasn't planning on buying books this year (I've only purchased 3 and already read one of those). And even while in France, I spent a week and a half in the countryside so I still hadn't bought any books (no bookstore around). But then I had 2 days in Paris and that's when I bought a bunch of books. The first day I had only bought some Jules Verne books from the bouquinistes to add to my collection, as I was searching for "Round the Moon" as that is the sequel of "From the Earth to the Moon" which I had just read. I went into a few bookstores but nothing was jumping out on me.

But on the second day I went into two bookstores with a much better organizational system and better table layouts and suddenly I felt inspired to read everything! So this is my final haul: 21 books. Which is not really good as I've only read 15 books so far this year. Never buy more than you read! Well, guess that means I need to read at least 6 more books this year. Well, 8, fi you count the two books I mentioned hearly.

The book haul!

Cédric Gras : Alpinistes de Mao
- this one sounds amaaaazing; a nonfiction about two men Mao sent to conquer Mt. Everest even though they had never hiked a mountain before in their lives

Machado de Assis : L'Aliéniste
- A light bulb went off in my head and I thought there must be more translations of this author available in French! And lo and behold there are!

Tsering Dondrup : Tempête rouge
- A Tibetan novel that looks at the Chinese ousting of the Tibetans which will be a nice pairing with the nonfiction Eat the Buddha which I read a few years ago about the same topic

Keyi Sheng : Un paradis
- feminist Chinese novel that sounds like it will be horrific to read

Victor Hugo : Lucrèce Borgia
- wanted to try a play by Hugo

Repeat authors:
Shūsaku Endōo: Le Dernier souper et autres nouvelles
Kenzaburo Oe : Seventeen
Amélie Nothomb : Premier Sang
Henri Troyat : Le Geste d'Ève
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio : Le Chercheur d'or

François-René de Chateaubriand : Mémoires d'outre-tombe, tome 1,2,3
- this was my only in the moment purchase as it was the entire 3 volumes for only 10euro so despite another Chateaubriand sitting on my shelf unread, I got these too

My Jules Verne haul:
Jules Verne : Le docteur Ox
Jules Verne : Autour de la lune
Jules Verne : Hier et demain
Jules Verne : Le château des Carpathes
Jules Verne : Hector Servadac

Marguerite Yourcenar : L'Oeuvre au noir
- on idea what this is about but had to trade in a just purchased Verne book (didn't realize I had picked up a more modern edition that I am looking for) so I traded the Verne for this as it was the same price and I know how famous this author despite never having read their works

tr. André Lévy : Fleur en fiole d'or : Jin Ping Mei Cihua, tome 1,2
- been wanting to take this Chinese classic home with me for a while and knew we owned it but couldn't find it. Found it!

heinäkuu 24, 7:38 am

>35 lilisin: What finds! Thank you for sharing—I love virtual book hauls nearly as much as my own.

heinäkuu 24, 2:01 pm

I am also a big fan of Jules Verne. I collect the Le Livre de Poche editions and love the illustrations.I have started L'Ille Mystérieuse but at over 800 pages it is a bit of a doorstop

heinäkuu 24, 6:55 pm

>36 labfs39:
So do I!

>37 baswood:
Yes, same. I collect the old Livre de Poche editions as well where the picture wraps around to the back cover and there is no synopsis. This way I go in completely blind and can really live in the adventure! I've read L'ile mysterieuse but in English and back when I was in elementary school so I plan on buying it in French at some point and rereading it. I buy about 6 Verne books every time I go back to France but this one hasn't made it onto the pile yet. I did however buy 20000 Leagues and Journey to the Center -- books I've already read but own in the white Folio editions) -- in the older edition to make my collection cohesive. I typically don't rebuy books just to match collections but I feel this one is a worthy exception.

elokuu 3, 4:03 am

18) Amélie Nothomb : Premier Sang

I went ahead and immediately read Premier Sang. I always say that Nothomb is at her best when she writes semi-autobiographically, and while this book isn't about her, but instead about her father, the book works. It doesn't have the self-deprecating humor she usually includes but the Nothomb humor is still present. Her characters feel much more alive and real than usual and it made for a pleasant read. One of her better works.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 3, 4:18 am

I am collecting Jules Verne's Voyages Extraordinaires adventure novels and thought it'd be fun to share the list of all the books in the series. (Taken from wiki). Especially since I just recently came back from France with more Verne in my hands (in a particular edition I love from the 1960s) I wanted to check to see which books I own now. Those books will be in bold.

Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1863)
Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras (The Adventures of Captain Hatteras, 1866)
Voyage au centre de la Terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864, revised 1867)
De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865)
Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (In Search of the Castaways, 1867–68)
Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, 1869–70)
Autour de la lune (Around The Moon, 1870)
Une ville flottante (A Floating City, 1871)
Aventures de trois Russes et de trois Anglais (The Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians in South Africa, 1872)
Le Pays des fourrures (The Fur Country, 1873)
Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days, 1873)
L'Île mystérieuse (The Mysterious Island, 1874–75)
Le Chancellor (The Survivors of the Chancellor, 1875)
Michel Strogoff (Michael Strogoff, 1876)
Hector Servadac (Off on a Comet, 1877)
Les Indes noires (The Child of the Cavern, 1877)
Un capitaine de quinze ans (Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen, 1878)
Les Cinq Cents Millions de la Bégum (The Begum's Millions, 1879)
Les Tribulations d'un chinois en Chine (Tribulations of a Chinaman in China, 1879)
La Maison à vapeur (The Steam House, 1880)
La Jangada (Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon, 1881)
L'École des Robinsons (Godfrey Morgan, 1882)
Le Rayon vert (The Green Ray, 1882)
Kéraban-le-têtu (Kéraban the Inflexible, 1883)
L'Étoile du sud (The Vanished Diamond, 1884)
L'Archipel en feu (The Archipelago on Fire, 1884)
Mathias Sandorf (Mathias Sandorf, 1885)
Un billet de loterie (The Lottery Ticket, 1886)
Robur-le-Conquérant (Robur the Conqueror, 1886)
Nord contre Sud (North Against South, 1887)
Le Chemin de France (The Flight to France, 1887)
Deux Ans de vacances (Two Years' Vacation, 1888)
Famille-sans-nom (Family Without a Name, 1889)
Sans dessus dessous (The Purchase of the North Pole, 1889)
César Cascabel (César Cascabel, 1890)
Mistress Branican (Mistress Branican, 1891)
Le Château des Carpathes (Carpathian Castle, 1892)
Claudius Bombarnac (Claudius Bombarnac, 1892)
P’tit-Bonhomme (Foundling Mick, 1893)
Mirifiques Aventures de Maître Antifer (Captain Antifer, 1894)
L'Île à hélice (Propeller Island, 1895)
Face au drapeau (Facing the Flag, 1896)
Clovis Dardentor (Clovis Dardentor, 1896)
Le Sphinx des glaces (An Antarctic Mystery, 1897)
Le Superbe Orénoque (The Mighty Orinoco, 1898)
Le Testament d'un excentrique (The Will of an Eccentric, 1899)
Seconde Patrie (The Castaways of the Flag, 1900)
Le Village aérien (The Village in the Treetops, 1901)
Les Histoires de Jean-Marie Cabidoulin (The Sea Serpent, 1901)
Les Frères Kip (The Kip Brothers, 1902)
Bourses de voyage (Travel Scholarships, 1903)
Un drame en Livonie (A Drama in Livonia, 1904)
Maître du monde (Master of the World, 1904)
L'Invasion de la mer (Invasion of the Sea, 1905)

The posthumous additions to the series:
Le Phare du bout du monde (Lighthouse at the End of the World, 1905)
Le Volcan d’or (The Golden Volcano, 1906)
L’Agence Thompson and Co (The Thompson Travel Agency, 1907)
La Chasse au météore (The Chase of the Golden Meteor, 1908)
Le Pilote du Danube (The Danube Pilot, 1908)
Les Naufragés du "Jonathan" (The Survivors of the "Jonathan", 1909)
Le Secret de Wilhelm Storitz (The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz, 1910)
L’Étonnante Aventure de la mission Barsac (The Barsac Mission, 1919)

Short stories in the series (The Voyages series includes two short story collections and seven individual short stories that accompanied one of the novels in the series.).
The short story collections are:
Le Docteur Ox (Doctor Ox, 1874)
Hier et Demain (Yesterday and Tomorrow, 1910) (posthumous, with stories completed or modified by Michel Verne)

And the individual short stories:
Les Forceurs de blocus (The Blockade Runners, published with A Floating City, 1871)
Martin Paz (Martin Paz, published with The Survivors of the Chancellor, 1875)
Un drame au Mexique (A Drama in Mexico, published with Michael Strogoff, 1876)
Les révoltés de la Bounty (The Mutineers of the Bounty, published with The Begum's Millions, 1879)
Dix heures en chasse (Ten Hours Hunting, published with The Green Ray, 1882)
Frritt-Flacc (Frritt-Flacc, published with The Lottery Ticket, 1886)
Gil Braltar (Gil Braltar, published with The Flight to France, 1887)

elokuu 3, 7:02 am

Nice haul! I've just added Tempête rouge to my wishlist...

elokuu 3, 3:48 pm

>40 lilisin:

The list seems to be missing Paris au XXe siècle, unless there is some special reason it isn't included... It was a fairly recent discovery, so another posthumous publication.

elokuu 3, 7:56 pm

>42 LolaWalser:

Looking it up it seems it was his first book but it wasn't picked up by an editor so it wouldn't be a posthumous publication in the sense that the wiki describes those books as incomplete manuscripts completed by his son post his death. This book would just be an unreleased manuscript and I feel comfortable not including it in the Aventures series. I'd be happy to own it but wouldn't include it (myself) in this list.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 4, 4:45 am

Continuing my Zola project having now completed the third book in the recommended reading order. I'm thinking reading 3 Zola's a year would be a good pace to read the entire series. I'll try to do that.

17) Emile Zola : La Curee (The Kill)

The book opens with scenes of astonishing opulence, beginning with Renée and Maxime lazing in a luxurious horse-drawn carriage, very slowly leaving a Parisian park (the Bois de Boulogne) in the 19th century-equivalent of a traffic jam. It is made clear very early on that these are staggeringly wealthy characters not subject to the cares faced by the public; they arrive at their mansion and spend hours being dressed by their servants prior to hosting a banquet attended by some of the richest people in Paris. There seems to be almost no continuity between this scene and the end of the previous novel, until the second chapter begins and Zola reveals that this opulent scene takes place almost fourteen years later. Zola then rewinds time to pick up the story practically minutes after La Fortune des Rougon ended.

Following Eugene Rougon's rise to political power in Paris in La Fortune, his younger brother Aristide, featured in the first novel as a talentless journalist, a comic character unable to commit himself unequivocally to the imperial cause and thus left out in the cold when the rewards were being handed out, decides to follow Eugene to Paris to help himself to the wealth and power he now believes to be his birthright. Eugene promises to help Aristide achieve these things on the condition that he stay out of his way and change his surname to avoid the possibility of bad publicity from Aristide's escapades rubbing off on Eugene and damaging his political chances. Aristide chooses the surname Saccard and Eugene gets him a seemingly mundane job at the city planning permission office. The renamed Saccard soon realises that, far from the disappointment he thought the job would be, he is actually in a position to gain insider information on the houses and other buildings that are to be demolished to build Paris's bold new system of boulevards. Knowing that the owners of these properties ordered to be demolished by the city government were compensated handsomely, Saccard contrives to borrow money in order to buy up these properties before their status becomes public and then make massive profits.

Saccard is at first unable to get the money to make his initial investments but then his wife falls victim to a terminal illness. Even while she lies dying in the next room, Saccard (in a brilliant scene of breathtaking callousness) is already making arrangements to marry rich girl Renée, who is pregnant and whose family wishes to avoid scandal by offering a huge dowry to any man who will marry her and claim the baby as his own (the baby dieing at birth). Saccard accepts and his career in speculation is born. He sends his youngest daughter back home to Plassans and packs his older son Maxime off to a Parisian boarding school; we meet Maxime again when he leaves school several years later and meets his new stepmother Renée, who is at least seven years older.

The flashback complete, the rest of the novel takes place after Saccard has made his fortune, against the backdrop of his luxurious mansion and his profligacy and is concerned with a three-cornered plot of sexual and political intrigue. Renée and Maxime begin a semi-incestuous love affair. Saccard is trying to get Renée to part with the deeds to her family home, which would be worth millions but which she refuses to give up. The novel continues in this vein, until Renee signs off the deeds to her family home to Saccard after her and Maxime's affair ends, then she succumbs to meningitis a year later and dies.

syyskuu 20, 11:47 pm

11) Aki Shimazaki : Fuki-no-tô: L'ombre du chardon
12) Aki Shimazaki : Maïmaï: L'ombre du chardon

I finally finished the last of Aki Shimazaki's series: L'ombre du chardon, a series title that makes sense when you read the books, although I must admit I've forgotten what that meaning was now. Although the whole series can, I believe, be read in any order, the publication order is as follows, and it is the order in which I read the series.

Azami ; Hozuki ; Suisen ; Fuki-no-tô ; Maïmaï

Although a Japanese author, Shimazaki lives in Canada and writes in French. These have been translated in neither English or Japanese. Also, despite being written in French, as these books were written by a Jpn author, take place in Japan, and have Jpn themes to them, I categorize the books as Jpn literature.

My review of the first few books can be found here although to resume the gist of the series as a whole. We follow a different protagonist in each book of the series where all the characters are connected in some way. Each book is about 120 pages short and they are very quick to read. I quite enjoyed the series as it gives you the ability to follow through with the characters like you don't get the opportunity to do with other books. What happened to the side character once any interaction with the protagonist was stopped? Well, with this series you get to find out. And it's a lovely way to read through the life story of a group of people.

However, I found the three first books stronger than the last two. The last two, in particular, Fuki-no-to, become almost laughably unrealistic and it's hard to believe the coincidences. To spoil the plot: In Fuki-no-to we follow the wife of the man who started off the series, as she comes to terms with her husband's infidelity. Fortunately a woman from her past shows up, the wife discovers she's a lesbian and they live happily ever after. The book just ignores all the difficulties that can arise from discovering your sexuality and leaving your family to create a happy-go-lucky ending for the wife. I just couldn't not find that fairly preposterous.

Following, with Maimai, we follow the son of the mistress who has now grown up to be an artist. His mother dies (the mother-son relationship was beautifully rendered), and decides to open a gallery while continuing to live with his grandmother. Then one day a former grade school friend shows up again and they begin a romantic relationship. We know that this girl is his half-sister so the sex scene was obviously horrifying to read. And then, we are left with him finding out about their relations and yet not telling her, so we are left with the idea that he never tells her and continues to sleep with his sister.

So really strange ending to the series but I'm still looking forward to reading the other series I have on hand (which I've read is a stronger series).

syyskuu 21, 3:21 am

24) Bram Stoker : Dracula

Needing a new book to read via e-book I thought this might be grab my attention and well, it most certainly did! What a fantastic ride this was! I was absolutely hooked from the first 30 pages and just couldn't put the book down. What was supposed to be an at work where I sneak in a paragraph here or a page there became my everywhere read because I just had to know what happened next. The suspense, the tension, the legitimately frightening horror! I loved every bit.

Written in the form of memoirs, telegrams, newspaper clippings, letters, etc... we are constantly pushed forward with the plot and no angle is left undiscovered. So many memorable and terrifying scenes: the boat scene, Lucy, the asylum, the final chase, and of course, Jonathan Harker's initial encounter with Dracula himself.

I can now say that all adaptations of Dracula and of the Dracula character are subpar and nothing compares to this original work. Absolutely loved it!

26) Robert Louis Stevenson : Treasure Island

After the high adventure that was Dracula I decided to continue along that same vein and picked up this famous pirate romp. I had fun with this one and although it's not as thrilling as Dracula, it was certainly still a fun page turner what with its amazing characters and adventure. Told mostly from the point of view of a young lad, Jim, (he relinguishes some parts to the testimony of his companions so that they can plug in the holes in the story) we start the story with his meeting of the frightening Captain at his familiy's inn. One by one the Captain's former companions come in and when the Captain is killed Jim must flee, but not without taking with him a map, which he will discover is the map to the Captain's famous bidden treasure.

We follow the story as Jim, and the doctor who helped him, band a crew together to sail to Treasure Island. But of course, being a tale of pirates, bucanneers and gold, havoc awaits as the legendary one-legged Long John Silver makes his appearance!

What a romp this was and it was fantastic finally meeting all these legendary characters. With so much color to the story and dialogue, it was a wonderful few days of reading.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 21, 3:45 am

10) Jules Verne : Le phare du bout du monde (Lighthouse at the End of the World)

Published posthumously, and most likely not written entirely by Verne, this book lands on the adventure side of Verne's writing; the science limited just to the idea of a lighhouse being built in new territory: the tip of Argentina.

Vasquez, Moriz, and Felipe, are three men deployed to man the new lighthouse at the end of the world. They are ready to spend months taking notes on their experience as they wait until their relief is to come in months to come. However, a group of bandits led by Kongre that have been trapped in the area have eyes on the lighthouse's reserves and have plans to hijack the returning ship for their escape.

The story follows the same lines as so many of these simlar stories but it is just so peaceful to read Verne that the predictability was not a destractor. Because, in any other book, this lighthouse plot would probably only be a few pages long and would be only a single foil to a more elusive plan, but in Verne's hands we get a detailed look at a scary (for the lighthouse keepers) event.

Not the best Verne but still good silly fun.

15) Jules Verne : De la Terre à la Lune (From the Earth to the Moon)
20) Jules Verne : Autour de la lune (Round the Moon)

And then the famous duology of shooting passengers up to the moon, and their need to return to Earth after failing to land on the Moon.

I must admit I wanted more from this famous story as a whole, but I loved many parts of the story, although I admit I liked book 1 better than book 2, finding book 2 actually boring and needing to skim about a hundred pages of Verne just writing the distance between every single crater on the moon.

Book one takes us through every step: from the decision to shoot a bullet towards the moon, the planning stages, the setup stages, the final calculations, and then the sudden change from an unmanned vessel to a manned one! The first third with the description of Americans and their thirst for guns while also admiring technological advancements Americans make when it comes down to needing to shoot something was hilarious and I just loved reading that part. Verne has such a way of describing America that I can never get enough. The middle third with the science behind how to prepare what is necessary was actually a pleasure to read as Verne never plodded too long on one topic. And then of course the third part as it leads to a major cliffhanger was fun as well.

But book two! Oh book two! How boring were you! Hundreds of pages of descriptions of craters and mountains, and the distance between them and the text was a dry as the moon's surface. Not helped by the fact that to the modern reader who can google a picture of the moon in milliseconds, we know what is and is not on the moon. So I had to try and keep the idea of the reader at the time of publication who would have been so amazed at getting such a close look at the moon. But the characters, and Verne, just couldn't sell that excitement as he caught too caught up in, and bogged down by the science. Eventually I started skimming the pages letting my eyes look for dialogue between characters and plot progression of which there was none until suddently they had to start heading back to Earth.

All in all a bit of a disappointment as a whole but still a worthwhile experience in my Verne journey. Can't like them all!

syyskuu 21, 4:51 am

If you've noticed I'm trying to catch up on some old reviews, nice observation!

5) Cao Xuequin : The Story of the Stone (Dream of Red Chamber)- Volume 5

I never even mentioned I finished this glorious Chinese classic epic! Probably because I'm a little embarassed as I had read the first four volumes two (three?) years ago and despite having gobbled up those 1800 pages easily, those last 300 pages just sat there. Oops!

But what a fabulous read, following the peak splendor of a traditional aristocratic Chinese family of the time period, and it's subsequent downfall. The downfall is so subtle that you hardly notice it happening, much like the characters themselves. The richness of the setting, the characters, the story, everything was spectacular. I found myself much surprisingly loving the poetry club scenes best of all for I love all the manner in which these used poetry to play games. I felt for the characters who never wanted to play as they were too weak at the game. I feel for them because I would also be horrible at the game and would end up drunk under the table from losing every round.

As for the book's multiple titles, for me the book is very much the story of the stone, as we start the story with the stone and end the story with the stone and it's the legend of the stone that carries us through the story.

My only gripe I must add however is the random switch of translators in the middle of the Penguin Classics set. There is no mention of the switch, and no introduction of the new translator, but it was quite noticeable when Bao started calling his cousin "cuz" despite having been calling her "cousin" the entire first half of the book. Quite the glaring transition!

But what a wonderful read! Can't wait for my next Chinese classic. I already have the next two big ones on my physical TBR.

7) Leo Tolstoy : Anna Karenina

Although I posted all of the quotations I found interesting as I read through this book, I never actually made my final thoughts upon completing the book and I have to say that reading AK was a splendid experience. Reading 20-30 pages a day was the perfect pace allowing me to get properly immersed in each chunk I read without getting bogged down by the length of the book. Anna's emotions, while incredibly understandable, are very strong and relentless and they are obvious poison to her and the reader so spending any longer than 30 pages with her in a day would have been draining. I already have enough poision coming from my own thoughts so no way I could handle someone else's!

This was actually my sort of kind of second read of AK, having read about 2/3s of it the first time, leaving it behing only because I was reading it on my phone and lost the commute time that allowed me to read on the phone. Reading this a second time though showed me how many times you could read AK and get something out of it. Upon one reading, you can focus on the love story, another, the political backround of the political era, another, the social commentary of Russian classes, etc... Although both time I found myself equally in love with Levin's parts. I just love his interaction with the countryside and could relate with his efforts, whether politically correct (according to our modern viewpoint) or not. His efforts working with and against the "country folk" showed an extraordinary parallel to modern times that is well worth reflecting on. Combined for his poor backwards thinking about "a woman's place" he makes for a fascinating character.

Amongst the many fascinating characters, including AK herself. Losing herself to her poisonous thoughts, oh, how I wish I couldn't relate.
A truly wonderful read.

syyskuu 21, 7:23 am

I love reading your reviews, Lilisin. You make me want to read each one, even those you didn't like as much! I admire your ability to follow through on finishing reading projects. Your perseverance is admirable. I have to too many books with the tag "bookmark stuck."

syyskuu 21, 2:26 pm

I enjoyed reading your reviews and thoughts on Dracula and Treasure Island and I agree with you on Jules Vernes Moon rocket story. You are right in highlighting Verne's take on the young America - its optimism and thirst for knowledge comes across in that first book.

syyskuu 21, 2:43 pm

>48 lilisin: oh wow you have finished The Story of the Stone! I really need to get back to this. I love the way you describe the richness of the texture of their lives. On the change of translator, Penguin did this because there are theories that the final book was not written by Cao as there are stylistic differences in the writing. I'm surprised they didn't explain this though - I can understand why you would find it strange.

syyskuu 21, 7:51 pm

>49 labfs39:
I actually find I like writing the reviews when I can latch on something to talk about. I do miss it. Plus, having the reading log to look back on is rather nice. As for my reading projects, I wlll have no qualms stopping if I feel like it's necessary but that's not the case right now. And I can't say I have too many projects: Zola project and Verne project? Is that about it? And then just continuing to read Japanese literature. And no deadlines to anything either!

>50 baswood:
I have his Children of Captain Grant on my TBR so i'm looking forward to another trip to America under Verne's hand.

>51 wandering_star:
Penguin has a long introduction explaining the story behind the author and the book's publication, going through the multiple theories and Gao E's contribution. But that was written by the first translator and again, no mention of the upcoming switch to the second translator. Just seemed like a strange but important mistake.

syyskuu 22, 7:03 am

>52 lilisin: I counted reading all five volumes of The Story of the Stone a project too. It would be for me!

syyskuu 22, 8:09 am

>45 lilisin: That is such a unique publishing trajectory. Wonder why it has never been at least translated into Japanese. A cool concept for a series.

>46 lilisin: and >47 lilisin: What a fun series of adventures. I always found it remarkable how close the From the Earth to the Moon and Poe's short story he Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall follow the same logic but being written 30s apart how the technology for getting to the moon is so very different.