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text 2018-07-07 16:19
Reading progress update: I've read 48 out of 343 pages.
Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes

Oh, wow.  I'm only a few chapters in, but this is feeling mighty topical already -- even more so given that it's not historical fiction but was actually published in 1941 (note: it's set in the summer of 1939):

 

"'It is really very sad for a German to find how misjudged and abused his country is.  Of course, our enemies control the Press in foreign countries, and they have been very busy.  They have clever tongues.'

'Have they?  It is strange, isn't it, how criticism of Germany has grown even in countries which were once really very close to her.  I wonder how it could have happened.'"

(P. 25)

 

"'You are a very prejudiced person, I can see.  I suppose you will now lecture me gravely on the wickedness of Germany's claims to natural Lebensraum.  It is easy to talk when you have a large Empire.'

'On the contrary, Herr von Aschenhausen, I like to think of all people having their Lebensraum, whether they are Germans or Jews or Czechs or Poles.'

His voice grated.  He was really angry.  'It is just such thoughts as these which have weakened Britain.  In the last twenty-five years she could have established herself as ruler of the world.  Instead, she makes a Commonwealth out of an Empire, and they won't even fight to help her when she has to fight.  She leaves the riches of India untapped; she urges a representative government on Indians who were about to refuse it.  She alienates Italy with sanctions.  She weakens herself all the time and she thinks it is an improvement.'"

(P. 27)

 

"'Well, I suppose if a nation allows concentration camps, it will find it hard to believe that other people don't use similar methods.  Cheeer up, old girl, who cares what a lot of uncivilised people think anyway?  It's only the opinion of the civilised that really matters.'

'Yes, but it looks as if a lot of the civilised will be killed because they ignored the thoughts of the uncivilised.  Ignoring doesn't expose them, you know, Richard.'"

(P. 32)

 

"[...] And then bastards like von Aschenhausen come along all smiles and bows.  And wonder why people are not enthusiastic about them.  They blackmailed us with bombers one year, and go back on the agreement they had extorted out of us, and then expect to be welcomed as friends.  All within nine months."

(P. 33)

 

"There's nothing like self-pity for thoroughly dissipating a man.  And when a nation indulges in that luxury it finds itself with a dictator.  Wrongs and injustices come in at the door and reason flies out of the window.  It's a solution which does not flatter the human race."

(P. 43)

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review 2018-02-04 16:59
Parallelwelten / Parallel Worlds
Schilf: Roman - Juli Zeh
Dark Matter - Juli Zeh

Intelligent und frech: Das Buch wird als "Physikerkrimi" vermarktet, aber das trifft es meines Erachtens nicht wirklich; tatsächlich ist dies die alte Geschichte von Faust und Mephisto im Gewand zweier Freunde, die sich als Physikstudenten kennengelernt haben und später im Leben verschiedene Wege gegangen sind, sowohl persönlich als auch fachlich -- wobei Mephisto den Faust nicht nur menschlich beherrschen, sondern gleichzeitig auch fachlich überflügeln will. Dies alles ist eigentlich bereits auf den ersten Seiten ziemlich eindeutig angelegt, so dass mich nicht jede "Zwischenentwicklung" des Buches überraschte; aber das sollte sie wohl auch nicht unbedingt (ohnehin wäre es zu kurz gesprungen, Krimi hier als "whodunnit" zu verstehen). Auch der dem Buch unterliegende strafrechtliche Ansatz mag zwar in der Theorie stimmen, hätte aber in der harten Justizwirklichkeit wohl sehr anders ausgesehen (da merkt man dann doch, dass Frau Zeh zwar Jura studiert, aber niemals praktiziert hat, und dass ihr Schwerpunkt das Völkerrecht und nicht das Strafrecht ist) -- ohnehin fand ich die beiden Physiker und ihren Streit um die Existenz und Nachweisbarkeit von Parallelwelten interessanter als den Kommissar, der dem Buch seinen Namen gegeben hat, sowie seine nur begrenzt sympathische Kollegin. Das Ende der Geschichte ist allerdings in seiner Boshaftigkeit ein sehr gezielter Tritt in die Magengrube ... und nicht nur diejenige der Charaktere.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Witty and irreverent: This book is marketed as a "physician crime novel", but that, in my opinion, is slightly off the mark -- actually, this is the age-old tale of Dr. Faustus and Mephistotopheles, dressed up as the story of two friends who first met in university, studying physics, but later chose different paths both in their lives and their careers; with Mephistopheles seeking not only to dominate Faustus as a human being but also to one-up him professionally.  All of this is fairly obvious pretty much right from the book's very first pages, as a result of which not everyone of the story's twists came as a real surprise to me; but I'm not sure this was even intended (and anyway, to read this book as a "whodunnit" would be seriously short-changing it).  The specific concept of criminal law underlying this story may have been rendered faithfully as it stands in theory, but its actual application in the harsh real-life practice of criminal justice would have looked decidedly differently (this is where you can tell that although Ms. Zeh hold a law degree she never actually practiced, and her focus in university was on public international law rather than on criminal law) -- and anyway, I found myself caring much more for the two physicists and their dispute over the existence and verifiability of parallel worlds than for the police inspector whose name is also that of this book's German title ("Schilf") and for his only marginally likeable female colleague.  The ending, however, is one well-aimed mean punch in the gut ... and not only that of the characters, either.

 

Status update: 96 of 384 pages.

 

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text 2018-01-18 13:04
Reading progress update: I've read 96 out of 384 pages.
Schilf: Roman - Juli Zeh

 

Sebastian = Faust

 

Oskar = Mephisto, der Faust zugleich verführt und bei der Suche nach der absoluten Wahrheit überflügeln will -- er braucht jemand, den er besiegen kann.

 

Dass das Krankenhaus hinter der Entführung von Liam stecken soll, glaube ich keine Sekunde.  Das geht auf das Konto des Obermanipulators Oskar.  Geh zur Polizei, Sebastian.

 

Die Physik ist window dressing.  In Wirklichkeit geht es um ein schnödes Machtspiel.

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review 2017-01-10 12:59
The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season -- Bonus Entry
Der Weltensammler - Ilija Trojanow
Collector of Worlds, the - Ilija Trojanow

I blacked out my card on Dec. 19 using the "activity" entry for the Kwanzaa square, but since thereafter I did read a book set (partially) in Africa, too, here's my "bonus entry" post ... sorry for reporting in belatedly; blame it on BookLikes posting issues and a surfeit of things going on all at the same time in my life at present. :(

 

Not that it still seems to matter greatly to begin with, alas ... (sigh).

 

Der Weltensammler (The Collector of Worlds) is a novelized biography of 19th century polymath and explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who traveled widely in India, the Middle East and Africa, visiting Mecca (disguised as an Arab) and seeking -- partially successfully, though he didn't know it -- the source of the Nile (he did make it to Lake Victoria, but failed to confirm that the Nile actually does originate from there).  He is best remembered today for his translation of The 1001 Nights.

 

Interesting, though quite obviously largely fictitious insights into a fascinating life, and a voyage back through time to the Orient, Africa, and British Empire of the 19th century.

 

Snow Globes: Reads
Bells: Activities

Merken

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url 2016-12-15 12:16
BookRiot: Happy 200th Birthday, The Nutcracker!
The Nutcracker - E.T.A. Hoffmann,Maurice Sendak,Ralph Manheim

At this time each year, thousands of little Claras across the world pull their Victorian nightgowns over their heads, lace up their toe shoes, and prepare to take their place on stage in one of the most coveted roles for an aspiring ballet dancer. But the history of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet goes beyond twirling Sugar Plum Fairies and pirouetting Rat Kings.

The character we’ve come to know as Clara originally appeared in a story written by E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816, by the name Marie Stahlbaum. At a holiday party thirty-odd years later, the legendary Alexandre Dumas told his own version of Marie’s surreal fever dream at a party after being tied to a chair by some of his daughter’s friends who demanded they be told a story. The resulting version of Hoffman’s fairy tale was less dark and more suited to a young audience. That was the version that Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky adapted nearly 50 years later for a performance at the Russian Imperial Theatre.

The original performance sold out on opening night (December 18, 1892) and a holiday season has not since passed without a curtain rising on a gorgeous Christmas tree, in the midst of being decorated by the Stahlbaum family and their friends.

 

Happy 200th Birthday, The Nutcracker!:

Merken

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