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review 2018-05-30 09:56
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

"Comme Guillaume l'avait déjà dit, il est toujours préférable que celui qui nous inspire la peur ait plus peur que nous."

"Or donc, si je comprends bien, vous faites, et vous savez pourquoi vous faites, mais vous ne savez pas pourquoi vous savez que vous savez ce que vous faites?"

"Guillaume, au contraire, riait seulement quand il disait des choses sérieuses, et il gardait tout son sérieux quand censément il plaisantait."

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review 2018-01-27 11:00
War and Peace in Classical Japan: The Heiké Story by Yoshikawa Eiji
The Heike Story: A Modern Translation of the Classic Tale of Love and War (Tuttle Classics) - Fuki Wooyenaka Uramatsu,Kenkichi Sugimoto,Kenichi Sugimoto,Eiji Yoshikawa

Japanese literature has a lot to offer although little is available in English translation. One of the great writers known also in the western hemisphere is Yoshikawa Eiji.

 

The Heiké Story is an epic story of war and peace with sentimental sidesteps – set in Classical Japan and based on true events as well as characters! Well, not as epic and colourful as the Japanese original must be because the translator took it upon himself to decide which plotlines and details might be interesting for western readers. Despite all, the life story of Heita Kiyomori is an intriguing novel that makes the classical "Tale of the Heike" accessible to modern readers.

 

Please click here to read my long review on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany!

 

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2017-10-19 17:01
Tomato Soup is Lava: "Time Ages in a Hurry" by Antonio Tabucchi, Antonio Romani (Translation)
Time Ages in a Hurry - Antonio Tabucchi,Martha Cooley,antonio romani

Tabucchi’s notion of time (e.g., aging) is a weird one. I grew up thinking it didn't really exist, that it was just something us humans invented as a measurement, like cm or mm. But I also used to think tomato soup was lava. Time is the only God, because it behaves in exactly the way any self-respecting God should: it continues to do its thing utterly dependably, and ignores everything else. The problem, I think, is that our scientific knowledge of time is so limited that in any discussion, we can't avoid drifting into metaphysics, which doesn't really add to the discussion. Regarding "time" as an entity, I feel we are like a caveman looking at the Mona Lisa and wondering how it was done what it could mean. We simply don't understand the extent of what we're looking at, and, like every generation, fall into the familiar trap that, because we are the here-and-now, we are the cleverest there's ever been, so we KNOW the answer, when, in fact, we're not much smarter than all the thousands of generations before us. The generations who follow us will behave in exactly the same way.

 

 

If you're into Aging and the Notion of Time in particular, read on.

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review 2017-10-13 22:54
Literaryness Made Easy: "The Edge of the Horizon" by Antonio Tabucchi, Tim Parks (Translator)
The Edge of the Horizon - Antonio Tabucchi

Of course it's the old "can you teach talent" argument, isn't it? That's the meaty question, the puzzler of substantial length and girth that needs to be grabbed firmly with both hands. What produces worse writing? People striking off alone, with nobody to tell them to stop and their critics being self-selected (because you see a lot of that online in fandom communities) or people going to study creative writing and, much like Larkin claims parents do, getting fucked up by their teachers' preferences? Books aren't quite the same as music, there's less chances for an obviously wrong note that doesn't fit; even a single poorly. Chosen word in a 50,000 word novel is often far less jarring in the grand scheme of things than a G# when you expect a G in a 10-minute concerto. As they say, even Homer nods. Of course if you open a book and it begins "It was the best of times, it was the best of times", then there's a problem. And "bad" is just a really broad term. A book might be beautifully written but completely morally repellant, and I'd call that bad; it might have a thrilling plot but contain nothing but dull clichés and poor imagery and I'd call it bad. I'd even call a book bad if it was great for three quarters of its length and then had an awful ending. All these different “badnesses” are forgivable by different people to different degrees; I'd be more kind to a book which just had a bit of a flat ending to a book that thoroughly endorsed objectivism as a moral philosophy as its sole Daseinszweck. I'd be more forgiving of something that used cliché and well-worn archetypes with brio and enthusiasm and a little inventiveness than something that tries so hard to not be formulaic it feels like a schoolchild told they can't use "got, nice or went".

 

 

If you're into "Literaryness", read on.

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review 2017-08-31 15:27
The Emptiness of Literature: "Requiem - A Hallucination" by Antonio Tabucchi, Margaret Jull Costa (translator)
Requiem: A Hallucination - Antonio Tabucchi,Margaret Jull Costa

“Were someone to ask me why I wrote this story in Portuguese, I would answer simply that a story like this could only be written in Portuguese; it's as simple as that. But there is something else that needs explaining. Strictly speaking, a Requiem should be written in Latin, at least that's what tradition prescribes. Unfortunately, I don't think I'd be up to it in Latin. I realised though that I couldn't write a Requiem in my own language and I that I required a different language, one that was for me A PLACE OF AFFECTION AND REFLECTION”.

 

In “Requiem” by Antonio Tabucchi

 

Affection and reflection: with these two words, Tabucchi defined his book better than any reviewer would be able to. "Requiem" is a small masterpiece of contemporary literature, from which one can only complain about one thing: it ends too soon for those who are taking delight in it. It's a very subjective thing, but when you read something that impresses you as language, regardless of its meaning, that seems to be so perfectly expressed that no one could have written it better, that makes you want to telephone a friend at 4AM and read it aloud, then you're probably reading a great prose stylist. I also pay attention to a writer's ability to create interesting, appropriate and original metaphors, similes, etc. A few top off-the-top-of-my-head's examples of what I would call great prose stylists, really the greatest of the great, and they’d be Shakespeare, Proust, Walter Pater, Frank Kermode, Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall”, Faulkner, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” and “To the Lighthouse”, William H. Gass, William T. Vollmann, Cormac McCarthy, John Donne in his sermons (which are enjoyable purely as prose), and many, many others. Again, it's all very subjective, and everyone who cares about this stuff probably has a different list. Hell, I would have a different list if I made it two minutes from now... Having said that, let me fanboy on Tabucchi as hard as I can, and on “Requiem” in particular. This is a tribute to the dead, a fictional Tadeus (the narrator’S best friend), Isabel (his lover), and Fernando Pessoa. But it is also a tribute to a city almost dead, the old Lisbon that the Europeanization of Portugal had been destroying. Tabucchi is passionate about ancient Lisbon and describes it with affection for the all 12 hours during which the main character goes out in search of his ghosts. On the last Sunday of July, the anonymous narrator is reading "The Book of Disquiet" by Fernando Pessoa under a mulberry tree in a farm in Azeitão, when he suddenly finds himself at the Lisbon dock waiting for the "dude" with whom he realizes he suddenly had a scheduled appointment. The "dude" is Fernando Pessoa. While trying to figure out how to fulfill his commitment to the poet, the narrator wanders through an almost deserted Lisbon (people have been refreshing themselves on the beaches), following clues that lead him to the Museum of Ancient Art, the House of Alentejo, the Cemetery of Pleasures, Brasileira do Chiado Café and other traditional points of my Lisbon.

 

If you're into European Literature, read on.

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