Why Read the Classics? by Italo Calvino, Martin L. McLaughlin (translator)

 

Description: From the internationally-acclaimed author of some of this century’s most breathtakingly original novels comes this posthumous collection of thirty-six literary essays that will make any fortunate reader view the old classics in a dazzling new light.

Learn why Lara, not Zhivago, is the center of Pasternak’s masterpiece, Dr. Zhivago, and why Cyrano de Bergerac is the forerunner of modern-day science-fiction writers. Learn how many odysseys The Odyssey contains, and why Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories are a pinnacle of twentieth-century literature. From Ovid to Pavese, Xenophon to Dickens, Galileo to Gadda, Calvino covers the classics he has loved most with essays that are fresh, accessible, and wise. Why Read the Classics? firmly establishes Calvino among the rare likes of Nabokov, Borges, and Lawrence–writers whose criticism is as vibrant and unique as their groundbreaking fiction.

Opening: “In France they start to read Balzac at school, and judging by the number of editions in circulation people apparently continue to read him long after the end of their schooldays. But if there were an official survey on Balzac’s popularity in Italy, I am afraid he would figure very low down the list”

Calvino has some interesting points in each of the thirty-six essays, however this is really more for the serious lit-lovers. No doubt I shall reach for the relevent chapters when I get around to the books he discusses.So it’s a keeper for the reference library

Authoritarian Sociopathy: Toward a Renegade Psychological Experiment by Davi Barker

bookshelves: essays, nonfiction, summer-2014, fraudio, anarchy, psychology, boo-scary, bullies, casual-violence, games-people-play, gardening, gulp, how-to, lifestyles-deathstyles, mental-health, ouch, politics, published-2014, rid-the-world-of-tyrants, totalitarian

Read from July 14 to 21, 2014

 

Description: Numerous studies have shown us that those given authority are more likely to lie, cheat and steal, while also being harsher in their judgments of others for doing these same things. Science tells us people with power feel less compassion for the suffering of others.

Previous experiments also show us that those who are obedient to authority are capable of the worst forms of murder, and tolerant of the worst forms of abuse. They will even chastise those of us who resist corrupt authority. They become facilitators of evil, believing that obedience to authority absolves them of personal responsibility.

This is the fifth draft of a renegade psychological experiment on authoritarian sociopathy, specifically on police brutality. We aim to show the world beyond a shadow of a doubt, that power corrupts absolutely, and corrupt authority deserves no obedience.

Interesting front about plagiarism being about love, and who wants love policed. Hmmm

Stamford experiment just got worse
Milgram experiment
– Government has the monopoly of violence in a designated area

Nothing new here, really. Refresh yourselves with the videos linked to above so you don’t forget how we can all act like either laboratory rats or merciless tyrants.

Just the two hazard signs as rating

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ― Aristotle, Metaphysics

The Changing Forest: Life in the Forest of Dean Today by Dennis Potter

bookshelves: published-1962, summer-2014, forest, fradio, nonfiction, autobiography-memoir, essays, politics

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 07 to 13, 2014

 

R4x

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007jndk

Description: Dennis Potter was born and brought up in the Forest of Dean, a place he described as a heart-shaped place between two rivers, somehow slightly cut off from the rest of England. This book, first published in 1962, is Potter’s personal study of that small area – its people, traditions, ceromonies and institutions – at a time of profound cultural and social change. He describes the fabric of a world whose old ways are yielding to the new: the collieries closing, the chapels emptying, the local clubs and brass bands harder to sustain. He asks whether the gains of modernity have, for the individuals and society he evokes, been worth the loss.

Episode 1: Revisiting his birthplace, Dennis Potter found the Forest of Dean in a state of profound uncertainty. Read by Robert Glenister.

Episode 2: No job for life: For the Forest of Dean’s coal-mining community, pit closures in 1961 sparked traumatic change.

Episode 3: Empty Pews: In 1961, the old Chapel religion of the Forest of Dean was losing its grip on the local community.

Episode 4: Out With the Old: he Forest of Dean elders remembered the past, while the young embraced what was new.

Episode 5: A Time of Tension: Change can breed insecurity or opportunity. For Forest of Dean locals in 1961, it sparked tension.

Goodrich Castle

Clearwell Caves and the Royal Forest of Dean Iron Mining Museum

The Music: There’s a Land Between Two Rivers – FOREST OF DEAN MALE VOICE CHOIR

Dennis Potter resigned from his post as a trainee with the BBC because he was writing this book with political bias, making a conflict of interest.

Used to spend alternate weekends at the Christchurch, Berry Hill camping site (every other w/e at Port Eynon campsite, The Gower)so I love the place. I’m sure that my repeated visits set the need for a forest vista deep into my psyche. How sad to see that Christchurch is now closed to tents, it has become a lodge site: the changing forest comes into play once more.

Trivia – Jimmy Young was born and bred in Cinderford

Utopia by Thomas More

bookshelves: published-1516, summer-2014, essays, nonfiction, gutenberg-project, e-book

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Literature of the English Country House
Read on June 08, 2014


Read here

Angry exhortation against all land-grabbers who leave little to nothing for villeins to grow their food:

‘They enclose all in pastures; they throw down houses; they pluck down towns and leave nothing standing but only the church to make of it a sheep-house. And as though you lost no small quantity of ground by forests, chases, lands and parks, those good holy men turn all dwelling places and all glebe-land into desolation and wilderness.’

I would have grabbed my pitch-fork too.

Quick angry essay (134 pages) along Platonic ‘Republic’ lines. Thomas More was the key counselor of King Henry VIII of England, who was tried for treason and beheaded in 1535.

The Legs of Izolda Morgan by Bruno Jasieński

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, essays, poland, politics, art-forms, philosophy, war, satire, translation

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: biblioklept
Read from May 16 to June 05, 2014

 

Description: Considered the enfant terrible of the Polish avant-garde, lauded by critics and scorned by the public, Bruno Jasieński suddenly declared the end of Futurism in Poland soon after his short “novel” The Legs of Izolda Morgan, appeared in 1923. An extraordinary example of Futurist prose, this fantastic tale explores how the machine has supplanted the human while the human body is disaggregated into fetishized constituent parts. As one of the central texts in Jasieński’s oeuvre, it is situated between two seminal manifestoes and the important essay “Polish Futurism,” which signaled the movement’s end in the context of its confused reception in Poland, the towering influence of Mayakovsky, and what set it apart from the futurisms in Italy and Russia. The condensed story “Keys” shows Jasieński’s turn toward satire to lambaste the pervasive hypocrisies of powerful institutions, and this is further developed in the two longer grotesques from his time in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Translated into English from the Russian for the first time, these two late stories expose the nefarious absurdity of racial persecution and warmongering and the lengths social and political structures will go to underpin them.

1: To the Polish Nation: A Manifesto on the Immediate Futurization of Life Krakow April 20th 1921

Stanisław Brzozowski, 1878-1911. A Polish philosopher, writer, publicist, literary and theatre critic. He is considered to be one of the most important Polish philosophers of all time and is known for his concept of the ‘philosophy of labour’.

Wawel Hill

Stanisław Przybyszewski,1868–1927. A Polish novelist, dramatist, and poet of the decadent naturalistic school. In 1896 he was arrested in Berlin for the murder of his common-law wife Martha, but released after it was determined that she had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

2: Nife in the Gutt: 2nd Phuturist Pamflet Essay Krakow 1921.

3: Exposé Essay

4: The Legs of Izolda Morgan
Well, this is quite a grotesque Luddite story. The villain of the piece is machinery and the opposition is the human body, which can be deconsructed to suit the fetish of another.

5: Polish Furturism: An Accounting Essay

6: Keys Opens out with a 600 year old weather-beaten crucifix hanging in a niche near a vestible entrance.

7: The Nose: Satire on Nazi Eugenics.

8: The Chief Culprit First World War story. There is a moment in this where the concept of those returning from hospital to the front were more often killed straight away. Are there stats to back this up? What is that saying about things? Could it be that the return to normality takes the stuffing out of the bravura needed to maintain edge at the frontline.

Thanks to Don for sharing this book with me via a kindle library loan, the second of such kind actions. I was pleased to have a stab at this, however a mixed bag garners mixed reception. I had little time for the essays however the short stories were interesting, especially the re-vamping of Gogol’s ‘The Nose’ into a frame of Nazi Eugenics against the Jews.

** Interesting link sent through from Miss M: Polish Cultural Institute

Walking by Henry David Thoreau

bookshelves: published-1862, e-book, gutenberg-project, essays, nonfiction, environmental-issues, romantacism

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from May 18 to 19, 2014


Read here

Opening: I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.

Thoreau expounds upon the art of sauntering. In the wilds I do the same, willy-wandering I call it, and usually have one mp3 earpiece on, leaving the other ear to take in the sounds (or lack thereof) of the forest. However, why do so many practice sauntering two abreast in the supermarkets, or five abreast on Oxford Street pavements – I ask yah!

Tend to like the idea of Thoreau more than I have actually enjoyed his fixated spouting, yet am quite sure nothing less than 3* would be worthy of our Wordsworth wannabe. (alliteration striven for *snerk*)

My choice of music

Tbilisi Unanchor Travel Guide – Weekend Break: Crown Jewel of the Caucasus

currently-reading, georgia, e-book, essays, spring-2014, journalism, nonfiction, published-2014, travel

Read on May 13, 2014

 

This is a short essay on Tbilisi available online here

Opening: Lermontov’s house is gone now. The foundations have crumbled in upon themselves; the mock-ups of the reconstruction are now covered in graffiti. There will never be any reconstruction. The restaurant called Pur Pur, with its Victorian lampshades and Friday night chanteuse, has closed down without warning. We trade black-market rumors about the reopening. Of course, we don’t know anything. In Tbilisi, nobody knows anything.

Tara Isabella Burton‘s travel writing and essays have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, The Paris Review Daily, The Atlantic, on the BBC, and more. In 2012 she received the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing. She has recently completed a novel set in Georgia.

Dylan Thomas by John Goodby

bookshelves: radio-3, britain-wales, lit-crit, poetry, essays, nonfiction, published-2001, under-10-ratings, fradio, spring-2014

Read from May 07 to 10, 2014


Dylan admires ……. the medieval Laugharne castle. The foreground shows the rear view of the wooden sculpture of Dylan Thomas set in the Millennium Garden

Recorded at the Laugharne Live Festival, in the grounds of Laugharne Castle, West Wales. Five leading writers and artists reflect on the ways in which they connect with one of Wales’s most famous cultural exports, Dylan Thomas.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042bk3l

Dylan Thomas Centenary

Episode 1: Professor John Goodby is one of the world’s most respected academic authorities on the poetry of Dylan Thomas. Using poems such as the radiant “In the White Giant’s Thigh”, “And death shall have no dominion” and “A Refusal to Mourn” he explores how the boundaries which Dylan Thomas crossed in both life and art have made it difficult for critics to pigeon-hole his legacy.

Episode 2: Andrew Davies reflects on the influence of Dylan Thomas on a child growing up in Wales in the 1950s, with aspirations to be a writer. A day trip to Rhossili beach and a Cornish pasty chimed with Davies’s role model’s account in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog”, but was this the gateway to a future as a poet?

Episode 3: The poet and writer Gwyneth Lewis, whose words are emblazoned over Wales Millennium Centre, takes a personal journey through the language of Dylan Thomas. She argues that to appreciate the work fully we must understand the poet’s rigorous practice and detailed knowledge of poetic history and tradition.

Millenium Centre

Episode 4: Linking up from New York, writer, poet and activist Kevin Powell looks at Dylan Thomas’s far-reaching influence on Black American writers, from his own introduction to Thomas’s words in the new poetry and spoken-word scene happening in New York in the early 90s, to the new wave of Black American artists inspired through hip-hop, spoken word and America’s oral tradition.

Episode 5: Poet and musician Twm Morys explores the links between Wales’s poetic heritage and Dylan Thomas’s writing. Drawing on memories of living in Thomas’s hometown of Swansea, he considers whether Thomas’s writing is universally acknowledged to represent the cultural landscape that nurtured its creation. [I loved this one]

Dylan Thomas reads After the Funeral (In Memory of Ann Jones)

Listen also to 120 mins from the Live Festival: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042bk3d

I have spent many a day on Rhossili and it is as beautiful, and as long, as described:

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

bookshelves: fraudio, winter-20122013, philosophy, china, spring-2014, re-visit-2014, re-read, e-book, essays

Read from February 07, 2013 to May 08, 2014

 

 photo short-stories1_zps8b6f4480.jpghttp://youtu.be/ksVgOSJ_Kv0

Opening:
”You see, Pooh,” I said, ”a lot of people don’t seem
to know what Taoism is … “
”Yes?” said Pooh, blinking his eyes.
“So that’s what this chapter is for-to explain
things a bit.”
”Oh, I see,” said Pooh.
“And the easiest way to do that would be for
us to go to China for a moment.”
“What?” said Pooh, his eyes wide open in
amazement. “Right now?”
“Of course. All we need to do is lean back,
relax, and there we are.”
“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

Page 39:

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie …

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fish can ‘t whistle and neither can I.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie …

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken, I don ‘t know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie …

Short and sweet like Pooh himself, however there is an undercurrent that I quite dislike. If one was to take this literally and follow the indicators, learning and action would be seen as irrelevant if not downright bad. Helpful doctrine if one lives in a repressed society where outward signs of the personality are discouraged and the hive community applauded. I would be more inclined to point youngsters toward the existential questions that arise in ANTZ (1998)

The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays

bookshelves: essays, fradio, published-2012, radio-4, spring-2014, nonfiction, lit-crit, books-about-books-and-book-shops

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from March 03 to 07, 2014

 

BOTW

Description: Highlights from an entertaining and idiosyncratic series of essays from James Wood, the leading literary critic of his generation. It’s a collection which ranges widely, from a loving analysis of Keith Moon’s drum technique to the intentions, gifts and limitations of some of our most celebrated modern novelists, including Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan.

 photo nonfiction_zps50e8dfae.jpg

1.THE FUN STUFF: HOMAGE TO KEITH MOON
Wood analyses the lost genius of Moon and his ability to create magic out of mayhem, relating this to his own experience of learning to play drums as a boy.

2. KAZUO ISHIGURO: NEVER LET ME GO: Wood considers a masterwork that melds sci-fi with literary fiction – a cloning story that ‘combines the fantastic and realistic till we can no longer separate them’.

3. MARILYNNE ROBINSON: Wood looks at the religious sensibility of the American author whose Pulitzer Prize winning Gilead was one of the most ‘unconventional…popular novels of recent times.’

4. CONTAINMENT: TRAUMA AND MANIPULATION IN IAN McEWAN: Wood admires and critiques the author of Atonement, Enduring Love and On Chesil Beach – ‘the great contemporary stager of traumatic contingency as it strikes ordinary lives’.

5. PACKING MY FATHER-IN-LAW’S LIBRARY: Wood describes disposing of his late father in law’s library, and considers whether our personal collections of books hide us more than reveal us to our descendants.

Abridged by Eileen Horne
Reader: TBA

Produced by Clive Brill
A Pacificus production for BBC Radio 4.

A whimsy, a ramble, and okay on in the background but did I learn anything WOW or did it have me convinced that this IS made of the fun stuff promised in the title?

Not at all.

I would be mildly furious if I had shelled out for this, however for those lit-crit luvvies it may be worth a go.

Listen Here

Crossposted:
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