The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

 

Description: In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps–a community devoted exclusively to sickness–as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death.

Total Duration: 2:18:04

Olwen Wymark’s BBC R4 dramatisation, first broadcast 2001:

Paul Schofield (narrator)
Robert Whitelock (Hans Castorp)
Clive Merrison (Settembrini)
Sian Thomas (Clavdia)
Simon Ludders (Joachim)
John Hartley (Dr Behrens)
Norman Rodway (Peeperkorn)
Rhodri Hugh (Naphta)
Richard Elfyn (Dr Krokowski)
Christine Pritchard (Frau Stohr)
Directed by Alison Hindell, with music by Colin Sell

Schatzalp Davos

Not sure what I thought this story was going to be like, however I have come away satisfied. Mann makes the reader perform emotional somersaults, at times this is stanley-blade morose then quickly the mood changes to satire. I really did not like the blizzard scene.

In the bigger picture, this is another way to view the mentality in Europe circa 1914 – how weird! The music.

Overall, from this superb BBC production, I come away with three Hans Castor(p)s

Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky

 

rosado mp3 on the road.

Description: Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone.

Picnicers from SPAAAAAAACE!

Our poor human ego takes rather a pounding with the idea here. So insignificant are we that an alien ship stops off on planet for a minimal amount of time and fails to announce arrival. Same sort of discourtesy that anyone of us shows the ants etc. when we take out the ACME red-checkered picnic cloth over their pitch and squash the grass, drop our crumbs and wrappers, take a dump behind a bush.

There is a film loosely based on this book: Stalker (1979)

Three gold spheres as rating:

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

The Private Journals of Edvard Munch: We Are Flames Which Pour Out of the Earth by Edvard Munch

Recommended for: Don, Laura, Susanna, Fionnuala
Read on May 29, 2014

Watch the Full Film (3:32:03)

La Belle Epoch Norwegian style.

From wiki: Hans Henrik Jæger (2 September 1854, Drammen, Norway – 8 February 1910, Oslo) was a Norwegian writer, philosopher and anarchist political activist who was part of the Oslo (then Kristiania) based bohemian group Kristianiabohêmen. He was prosecuted for his book Fra Kristiania-bohêmen and convicted to 60 days’ imprisonment in a supreme court ruling in 1886. He and other bohemians tried to live by the nine commandments Jæger had formulated in the Fra Kristiania-bohêmen.

The following year, he was forced to flee Norway. He had been sentenced to 150 more days in prison after the Norwegian government learned that he had sent 300 copies of Fra Kristiania-bohêmen to Sweden under the auspices of a volume of Christmas stories. He was a friend of Edvard Munch, and was the subject of one of Munch’s paintings.

And so to Paris…

And now Berlin, where he meets up with August Strindberg

Dagny Juel-Przybyszewska (8 June 1867 – 5 June 1901) was a Norwegian writer, famous for her liaisons with various prominent artists, and for the dramatic circumstances of her death. She was the model for some of Edvard Munch’s paintings. She had relationships with Munch and briefly with August Strindberg. In 1893, she married the Polish writer Stanisław Przybyszewski. Together they had two children. She was shot by a young lover in a hotel room in Tbilisi in 1901, three days before her thirty-fourth birthday. See also The Legs of Izolda Morgan

How I feel for you, Munch, what with your poor health and existential angst.

The Search for the Panchen Lama by Isabel Hilton

bookshelves: spring-2014, hardback, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, tibet, lifestyles-deathstyles, nonfiction, politics, philosophy, biography, buddhism, religion, history, journalism, published-1999

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Karen Witzler
Read from May 11 to 28, 2014

 

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima

Withdrawn from Huntingdon Library.

Opening: Choekyi Gyaltsen, more widely known as the tenth reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, died on a freezing night in January 1989 in his own monastery of Tashilhunpo, in Tibet.

Tashilhunpo Monastery བཀྲ་ཤིས་ལྷུན་པོ་ོ་, Shigatse, Tibet

Page 18: ‘The Potala was built by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, the first of the Gelugpa hierarchs to assume secular power. His accession as King of Tibet in the seventeenth century had brought a measure of peace to a country riven for more than a hundred years by sectarian warfare.’

Firstly a thank you to Karen for for bringing this book to my attention.

This lengthy history is very interesting, however it is written in a non-linear way, making it hard to keep the facts straight. I especially enjoy that Ms Hilton recognises this growing Western trend of Dr. Martin wearing maroon-cloaked accolytes hanging on the robes of the court in exile. Example on Page 6: ‘The hotel* is the chief exhibition room for what the Dalai Lama’s brother, Tenzin Choegyal, later called the Shangri-La Syndrome – Westerners who are seeking answers to a variety of personal questions by means of the Tibetan Cause.’

*Hotel Tibet, Dharamsala

Overall though, this is not a book I would recommend other than to those with more than a passing interest, as the lay-out of information is too haphazard. One thing I did learn, and it is an important point, the young lad I spied overhead at Yonghegong must have been Gyaincain Norbu. So for that learning point alone this book has been useful.

TRIVIA

Bon or Bön also Bonism or Benism (Chinese: 苯教, Běnjiào) is the term for the religious tradition or sect of Tibet more accurately called Yungdrung Bon today.

Zezhol Monastery of the Tibetan Bon Religion at Dengqen County of Qamdo prefecture

The Tibetan Book of Proportions

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)

Professor Andersen’s Night by Dag Solstad

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, paper-read, hardback, midlife-crisis, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, norway, spring-2013, bellybutton-mining, re-visit-2014, re-read, published-1996, spring-2014, under-500-ratings, oslo, trondheim, newtome-author, feckless-procrastination, food-glorious-food, lit-crit, politics, philosophy

Read from April 26, 2013 to May 06, 2014


First time around I abandoned this but I have been persuaded to give it another try: REBOOT 2014:

Description: An existential murder story. A master of Norwegian literature critiques contemporary society with wry wit.

It is Christmas Eve, and 55-year-old Professor Pål Andersen is alone, drinking coffee and cognac in his living room. Lost in thought, he looks out of the window and sees a man strangle a woman in the apartment across the street.

Professor Andersen fails to report the crime. The days pass, and he becomes paralysed by indecision. Desperate for respite, the professor sets off to a local sushi bar, only to find himself face to face with the murderer.

Professor Andersen’s Night is an unsettling yet highly entertaining novel of apathy, rebellion and morality. In flinty prose, Solstad presents an uncomfortable question: would we, like his cerebral protagonist, do nothing?

Discarded from Tower Hamlets Libraries
Translation by Agnes Scott Langeland

Opening: It was Christmas Eve and Professor Andersen had a Christmas tree in the living room. He stared at it. ‘Well, I must say,’ he thought.

Trondheim Cathedral

A wooly, waffley story of three parts: politics and dinner; dither and literary criticism; then sushi with philosophy for dessert.

At least I made it to the end this time, however I do feel that Solstad is not the writer for me.

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf by Gaito Gazdanov

bookshelves: books-with-a-passport, published-1950, slavic, translation, books-about-books-and-book-shops, under-500-ratings, philosophy, giftee, hardback, paper-read, spring-2014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Don
Read from April 24 to May 06, 2014


to look into/hunt down Book with a passport coming from ·Karen·
HUZZAH! Thanks oh kind one.

1950 Hardcover with a Bookbarn Books, Glastonbury and Wells sticker inside the front cover. Translated from the Russian by Nicholas Wreden.

Description: On a searing hot day in 1919, a young Russian soldier shoots another in self-defence. As the other man lies dying, the young soldier takes his horse and rides away. Years later, as a grown man in Paris whose life is still haunted by the murder he committed all that time ago, he comes across a story by a writer calling himself “Alexander Wolf”, which recounts in astonishing detail the events of that day in 1919 from the dying victim’s point of view. As he attempts to find the elusive writer, the narrator becomes involved in a series of strange encounters that lead him to question life, death and his own identity.

Opening: Among all my recollections, among all the numberless sensations of my life, the memory of the lone murder I had committed weighed heaviest on my mind. From that moment on, I cannot remember a day which I have not regretted it.

A novella-sized novel about fate and pre-destination where I, in turn, was gripped, intrigued, bored, lost, then I guessed the twist in the lemon yet wanted to see how it would play out. Thoughout, there was this tweaky thing going on that never really turned into magical-realism but we were kept hovering over that threshold, and the main point of this story is that even if fate lets you off the hook of fate for a time, it will all play out as intended in the end. Personally, that philosophy on life doesn’t register, however it does make for a good story.

Gazdanov seems to me to be an emulator of Nabokov and/or Ouspensky, so if you like their goods you may well enjoy this.

BIG thanks to ·Karen· for posting this on to me, and the packet came with stamps on rather than boring franking marks, one of which was Rahel Hirsch:

Rahel Hirsch (September 15, 1870 – October 6, 1953) was a German doctor and professor at the Charité medical school in Berlin. In 1913 she became the first woman in the Kingdom of Prussia to be appointed a professor in medicine. (wiki sourced)

See! us readers learn something new everyday.
:O)

Send a message if you want me to pass on this book; kindness must never be stopped in its tracks.

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

bookshelves: autumn-2012, slavic, nonfiction, ouch, nobel-laureate, fraudio, epic-proportions, autobiography-memoir, boo-scary, bullies, execution, gangsters, holocaust-genocide, lifestyles-deathstyles, philosophy, politics, published-1958, racism, recreational-homicide, true-grime

Read from September 08 to October 28, 2012


blurb – The Gulag Archipelago is Solzhenitsyn’s attempt to compile a literary-historical record of the vast system of prisons and labour camps that came into being shortly after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in 1917 and that underwent an enormous expansion during the rule of Stalin from 1924 to 1953. Various sections of the three volumes describe the arrest, interrogation, conviction, transportation, and imprisonment of the Gulag’s victims by Soviet authorities over four decades. The work mingles historical exposition and Solzhenitsyn’s own autobiographical accounts with the voluminous personal testimony of other inmates that he collected and committed to memory during his imprisonment.Upon publication of the first volume of The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn was immediately attacked in the Soviet press. Despite the intense interest in his fate that was shown in the West, he was arrested and charged with treason on February 12, 1974, and was exiled from the Soviet Union the following day.

Map of the Gulags

Image: An abandoned guard tower in one of hundreds of gulags (prison camps) across the Soviet Union, remains as a symbol of profound human suffering. First instituted by Lenin to imprison priests, political opponents, and common criminals, Stalin was then responsible for sending 12-15 million people to these camps. The prisoners were used as forced labor to work on massive industrial projects. As more laborers were needed for bigger projects and those falling behind schedule, Stalin justified the arrests of more people to be sent to the gulags. Millions were executed in these camps or perished as they labored on massive modernization schemes. It is said of the Siberian railroad project that the work was never done, nothing was achieved and it went nowhere. (credit: Jonathan Lewis)

Gruelling yet important; shocks one to the very core. Some books are best left unrated.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

bookshelves: pirates-smugglers-wreckers, philosophy, zoology, seven-seas, winter-20112012

Read from January 02 to 03, 2012

Dedication – To Sophie, who has a quarter of a million pounds

Opening – ‘The best bit about being a pirate,’ said the pirate with gout, ‘is the looting.’

There be footnotes and a map – what more do you need to add to a humourous script about Darwin and pirates and Mr Bobo

Funniest moment – page 82. Luckily they were not having their climactic fight in the Prague Natural History Museum which is full of trilobites and not much else

*nods*

4* for me – others (not needing a humorous palate cleanser) will have to be guided by a 3*