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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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review 2017-08-31 10:52
The Power of Certain Narratives: "Pereira Declares" by Antonio Tabucchi, Patrick Creagh (translator)
Pereira Declares: A Testimony - Antonio Tabucchi,Patrick Creagh

“[…] but I feel I must tell you that originally, we were Lusitanians, and then came the Romans and the Celts, and then came the Arabs, so what sort of race are we Portuguese in a position to celebrate? The Portuguese Race, replied the editor-in-chief, and I am sorry to say Pereira, that I don’t like the tone of your objection, we are Portuguese, we discovered the world, we achieved the greatest feats of navigation the world over, and when we did this, in the 16thcentury, we were already Portuguese, that is what we are and that is what you are to celebrate, Pereira.”

 

In “Pereira Declares” by Antonio Tabucchi.

 

I read this in a Portuguese translation from the Italian more than ten years ago, if memory serves me right, I haven't come across anything quite like it and I still have a place in my heart for portly, perspiring Pereira with his omelets and his quiet, but subversive, decency. This time, this wonderful translation by Patrick Creagh just made my day.

 

In a narrative that does not want a puzzle, Tabucchi uses a very similar resource to the one used by Isaac Bashevis Singer: that of telling alien stories supposedly collected from conversations with real people, and not hiding it in the book's writing. “Pereira Declares” is a book that walks slowly, seeking to situate the scenario through which the characters walk, without extending the descriptions but worried to leave the reader with significant details about the characters, as, for example, the custom of Pereira to take Lemonades and the same path every day.

 

 

If you're into European Literature, read on.

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review 2017-04-08 10:38
My Inner Vision of Italy: "The Brewer of Preston" by Andrea Camilleri
The Brewer of Preston: A Novel - Andrea Camilleri,Stephen Sartarelli

As with cinema, when I’m reading something like a Camilleri novel, it’s always possible to discuss its heightened reality. You concentrate life, as one does in theater. The proscenium arch for film is its syntax. Some thoughts arise, like when discussing reality. Imagine you ask someone who is talking about another person, "What are you doing?" They answer, "Well, I'm trying to tell you this and that, etc.” But you look at them and say, "No...What are you doing?" They get somewhat thrown, or agitated, or confused. Eventually lines are drawn. It's such a simple question. But it is really asking for you to really meditate or think about what this whole process of communication is really up to. What rules are being followed...what political system of exchange is really going on? What part of this is really a card shuffling act? What shifts of power are taking place in this exchange? What are you keeping me from noticing? What is being depended on? The question is simple, but the reality of the exchange is buried. There may not be words to describe the real chemistry of the exchange, and there may be issues about the decimation of personality inherent in the query.

 

If you're into Italian Literature, read on.

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review 2016-06-30 14:32
Zeno's Conscience - Italo Svevo,William Weaver

Du même coup, le chagrin que j'éprouvais de ne pas savoir si j'étais essentiellement bon s'atténua. Il me semblait que j'avais résolu un angoissant problème: nous ne sommes ni bons ni méchants, et il y a bien d'autres choses encore que nous ne sommes pas. La bonté est une lumière qui n'éclaire que par instants et de furtives clartés le fond obscur de l'âme humaine. Une flamme s'allume, nous brûle et s'éteint. (Je l'avais sentie en moi, tôt ou tard elle reviendrait.) Mais dans le temps qu'elle nous éclaire, nous pouvons choisir la direction que nous continuerons à suivre dans l'obscurité. C'est pourquoi il nous est toujours possible de faire preuve de bonté, et c'est là ce qui importe. Quand la lumière reviendrait, j'en soutiendrais l'éclat sans surprise ni éblouissement. Pour le moment, j'avais soufflé dessus: je n'en avais pas besoin. Ma résolution prise, je resterais dans la bonne route.

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review 2016-05-28 11:00
A Woman Longing for Peace: The Church of Solitude by Grazia Deledda
Church of Solitude the - Grazia Deledda,E. Ann Matter
La chiesa della solitudine - Grazia Deledda

So here's a classical novel dealing with a very serious topic. This time it's breast cancer. Its author is the Nobel laureate in Literature of 1926 who suffered from breast cancer herself. She died in 1936, the same year when the novel was published.

 

However, The Church of Solitude isn't just the author's attempt to cope with her own fate. Far from it! Like all this writer's novels it offers a very interesting as well as first-rate portrait of rural life on Sardinia, Italy, during the 1930s. Moreover, its plot surrounding a female protagonist who suffers from breast cancer and who longs for nothing but peace and quiet so she tries her best to keep at bay her suitors is touching as well as gripping. I enjoyed the read and hope that the novel will be to your taste too!

 

If you'd like to know about this novel by Italian Nobel laureate, please click here to read my review on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany or you can find its duplicate here  Read the Nobels.

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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