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review 2018-09-07 16:20
I fiori blu - Raymond Queneau,I. Calvino

Buttate bussole e orologi, ché in questo viaggio non servono. Prendete invece una medaglia e osservatene le facce.


Il duca d’Auge sogna d’essere Cidrolin che sonnecchia nel barcone ormeggiato sulla Senna.

Cidrolin sogna d’essere il duca d’Auge.

Le vicende del duca si compiono con salti temporali di 175 anni, partendo dal 1264. Quelle di Cidrolin si svolgono nell’anno 1964.

Il duca e Cidrolin non potrebbero essere più diversi. L’uno feroce, senza scrupoli, sanguinario, l’altro sempre un po’ annebbiato, imbevuto di ”pernod” (essenza di finocchio); ridipinge lo steccato che qualcuno di notte riempie di scritte infamanti e poi si occupa della sua attività preferita: dormire. Sognare. Sulla sua chiatta, il suo barcone, la sua Arca.

Per conoscere le vicende del duca si deve attendere che Cidrolin s’addormenti, per seguire il sonnacchioso Cidrolin s’aspetterà che dorma il duca.  

S’incontreranno. Nel 1964. Sull’Arca.

Il diluvio non è solo d’acqua.


I fiori blu è gioco fra sogno e realtà, fra vite che scorrono e cavalli che parlano. È viaggio in tondo al tempo e allo spazio, è succedersi di citazioni e metafore. È sfida, divertimento, baraonda entusiasmante. È fantasmagoria linguistica.  

È faccenda contorta fin là, dove dal fango sbocciano piccoli fiori blu.



Anche le marce più oscure hanno una fine. Il Duca disse:

- Eccoci qua.

Si fermò. L’abate Riphinte l’imitò:

- Dove credete che siamo arriva-ti? - chiese il Duca.

- Nelle tenebre.

- E cosa vedremo?

- Poco o niente.



Salite sulla torre e poi lasciatevi andare. O cadere. Nel sogno, s’intende!

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review 2018-08-20 07:40
Dracula: Prince of Many Faces by Radu R. Florescu & Raymond T. McNally
Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times - Raymond T. McNally,Radu Florescu

TITLE:  Dracula:  Prince of Many Faces (His Life & His Times)


AUTHORS:  Radu R. Florescu & Raymond T. McNally




FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  9780316286565



From the blurb:

"Dracula: Prince of Many Faces reveals the extraordinary life and times of the infamous Vlad Dracula of Romania (1431-1476), nicknamed the Impaler.  Dreaded by his enemies, emulated by later rulers like Ivan the Terrible, honored by his countrymen even today, Vlad Dracula was surely one of the most intriguing figures to have stalked the corridors of European and Asian capitals in the fifteenth century.


Vlad Dracula aslo served as the inspiration for Bram stoker's classic vampire tale.  However, as this biography proves, "the real Dracula is far more interesting than the fictional vampire created by Bram Stoker" (Houston Chronicle).  Covering Vlad Dracula's entire life and subsequent legend, this book includes "a fascinating chapter on the mystery of Dracula's empty grave" (New York Time Book Review)."



Florescue and McNally have written a a biography about Vlad the Impaler that is interesting, rich in detail, even-handed and circumspect.  The book does a wonderful job of weaving together Dracula's personal life and ambitions with the cultural, social, political and military realities of the time.  The authors also manage to separate fact from speculation without ruining the flow of the narrative.  They were also at pains to separate the myth from the man.  The book also examines Bram Stoker's Dracula novel in light of the real Dracula and his country.  Dracula:  Prince of Many Faces examines who Dracula was to various people - his family, his countrymen, the neighbouring states and his Ottoman enemies. Overall, this is one of the better biographies I have enjoyed.


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review 2018-04-13 03:24
Precursor to "the Blitz"
The Sky on Fire: The First Battle of Britain, 1917-1918 - Raymond H. Fredette,Tom D. Crouch

Today the Battle of Britain has become an indelible part of the British historical identity, one with which nearly every Briton is familiar on some level. In the process, however, the air battles between the British and the Germans often obscure the fact that the air campaign was hardly unprecedented even in British history. For during the last two years of the war, the German Luftstreitkräfte launched a bombing campaign of London and the Home Counties, one which Raymond Fredette argues was a forerunner for the more famous sequel nearly a quarter of a century later.


To demonstrate this, Fredette charts both the development of the German’s air campaign and the British response to it. As he describes it, the German campaign was a product of evolving technology, namely the improvement in German aircraft design. With British air defense forces increasingly successful in their efforts to shoot down the zeppelins used in Germany’s initial bombing campaign, the Germans turned to large biplane bombers as a means to strike their enemy across the channel. Though the flights were generally small and the damage they inflicted had a negligible impact on Britain militarily, they elicited a response out of all proportion to their effect. Numerous guns and fighters were diverted from other missions to provide for the defense of London, which proved a considerable challenge as the bombers proved to be much more difficult targets to locate (let alone shoot down) than the ponderous zeppelins. Yet it was the weather and the turn of the larger war against the Germans that doomed the campaign, as by the summer of 1918 the bombers were diverted to support the doomed offensive on the Western Front, having nevertheless established a precedent that would be followed by others.


Though Fredette draws primarily from contemporary news reports and other published accounts for his information, he uses this information to good effect. As a career air force officer he infuses his narrative with a professional’s understanding of the challenges the pilots and their superiors faced in both mounting and responding to the bombing campaign. Written with a sense of the dramatic, his book provides an engaging narrative of the “first battle of Britain,” one that makes a good case for its underappreciated significance to the history of strategic air warfare.

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review 2018-03-24 18:07
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler creates Philip Marlowe
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler

I wanted to read Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe series, but I was worried that I might be too influenced by 50 years of watching movies. I was concerned that I might keep picturing Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, but once I started the novel, the characterization is so well done that my worry now seems silly. Not only are the characters well-written, the novel itself is a joy. It's self-assured yet manages to be surprising. Despite modern sensibilities I felt far less put off by the depictions of women and minorities than I have been in some other literature (though it's important to remember the time in which it was written,) and just as I've come to expect from this era's literature - everyone drinks a lot (that's not a good thing, but it is true.) Even knowing how this story was going to unfold, I was drawn in by the crime, characters and setting, and I could picture every step Marlowe took. There are "broads" and "dames" but the books feel less tawdry than the label "noir" does. I had planned on working my way through the series, but the tone wears a bit thin if I read too much without throwing another book or type of book in the mix. so I've only gotten through two books so far. That's fine - unlike the characters and their liquor, I will savor each one slowly, imbibing over time.

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review 2018-03-23 15:38
Elements of the Philosophy of Right - Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,Allen W. Wood,Raymond Geuss

Hegel's most comprehensive examination of ethics and moral philosophy. He counters von Haller's assertion that natural law and the right of the mightiest are sufficient to ground society. Rather than the despotic or  ochlocracist view, Hegel maintains that the rule of law depends on people participating equally (more or less) in moral commitments, property rights, the legal system, and politics without unfairly interfering with each other. 

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