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

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The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

 

Description: Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors who came to the islands were financially and culturally progressive one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the states largest landowners. But now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control 10-year-old Scottie has a smart-ass attitude and a desperate need for attention and 17-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. His thrill-seeking and high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat racing accident, and will soon be taken off life support. The King family can hardly picture life without their charismatic mother, but as they come to terms with this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them and spurs them into surprising actions.

Jonathan Davis narrates.

Book before film.

LATER: No film for me, it would ruin this story in the mind’s eye. The Descendants is not 5* perfect, however it is pretty darn fantastic debut, and so well read by Davis. I have internal film of all the family members, and that, right there, shows how finely wrought Hemmings has crafted them.

My one-liner sum up is this: Mr King, father to Valley Girls, new millenium style, has to grow thick skin in order to keep his family together in the aftermath of tragedy and amidst revelations of disloyalty.

Four and a half Hawaiian Islands

Death and the King’s Horseman: A Play by Wole Soyinka

bookshelves: nobel-laureate, play-dramatisation, radio-3, published-1975, afr-nigeria, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer, summer-2014, tragedy, colonial-overlords

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 12 to 14, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0495nrm

Description: In celebration of Wole Soyinka’s 80th birthday, a drama based on a real event in 1940s Nigeria. A colonial district officer intervenes to prevent a local man committing ritual suicide

Death And The King’s Horseman is considered to be Professor Soyinka’s greatest play. In awarding Soyinka the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, the Swedish Academy drew special attention to Death and the King’s Horseman as evidence of his talent for combining Yoruban and European culture into a unique kind of poetic drama.
Composer and Musical director, Juwon Ogungbe.

Fab production this, what with all the choruses, poetic prose, and the mention of buttocks cannot help but endear. Yet take away all the flippery and one is left with a very sad sacrificial tale that is not on its own is it! Sati in India is a parallel – then the Viking warriors were oft joined by their very much alive wives, not to mention Chinese and Egyptians.

From wiki: In the play, the result for the community is catastrophic, as the breaking of the ritual means the disruption of the cosmic order of the universe and thus the well-being and future of the collectivity is in doubt. The community blames Elesin as much as Pilkings, accusing him of being too attached to the earth to fulfill his spiritual obligations. Events lead to tragedy when Elesin’s son, Olunde, who has returned to Nigeria from studying medicine in Europe, takes on the responsibility of his father and commits ritual suicide in his place so as to restore the honour of his family and the order of the universe. Consequently, Elesin kills himself, condemning his soul to a degraded existence in the next world. In addition, the dialogue of the native suggests that this may have been insufficient and that the world is now “adrift in the void”.

Another Nigerian playwright, Duro Ladipo, had already written a play in the Yoruba language based on this incident, called Oba waja (The King is Dead)

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.

My Tibetan Childhood: When Ice Shattered Stone by Naktsang Nulo, Angus Cargill (Translation)

bookshelves: e-book, net-galley, translation, tibet, nonfiction, autobiography-memoir, history, spring-2014, buddhism, bullies, casual-violence, censorship, colonial-overlords, families, gangsters, ipad, lifestyles-deathstyles, ouch, politics, rid-the-world-of-tyrants, true-grime, published-2007, racism, religion, bucolic-or-pastoral, execution, superstitions, tragedy, war

Read from May 08 to 11, 2014


Translation provided by Angus Carghill and Sonam Lhamo

Including a foreword by The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

Description: In My Tibetan Chldhood, Naktsang Nulo recalls his life in Tibet’s Amdo region during the 1950s. From the perspective of himself at age ten, he describes his upbringing as a nomad on Tibet’s eastern plateau. He depicts pilgrimages to monasteries, including a 1500-mile horseback expedition his family made to and from Lhasa. A year or so later, they attempted that same journey as they fled from advancing Chinese troops. Naktsang’s father joined and was killed in the little-known 1958 Amdo rebellion against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the armed branch of the Chinese Communist Party. During the next year, the author and his brother were imprisoned in a camp where, after the onset of famine, very few children survived.

The real significance of this episodic narrative is the way it shows, through the eyes of a child, the suppressed histories of China’s invasion of Tibet. The author’s matter-of-fact accounts cast the atrocities that he relays in stark relief. Remarkably, Naktsang lived to tell his tale. His book was published in 2007 in China, where it was a bestseller before the Chinese government banned it in 2010. It is the most reprinted modern Tibetan literary work. This translation makes a fascinating if painful period of modern Tibetan history accessible in English.

The author and his brother in Chinese clothing at their first government school.

Opening to the Prelude: It was hot at noon that day. We were making our way wearily across a river when we heard guns firing repeatedly from up ahead. We had no idea what was going on, but we were all frightened. Everyone dismounted except for me. Some Tibetan gazelles, startled when they saw us, sprinted to the top of a mountain. I rode over and looked down to the road beneath. It was a Chinese military column, so long that you couldn’t see the beginning or the end of it. They were on horseback.

This autobiography opens out with Nulo’s early memories when there were many battles between the tent peoples, or nomads, on the grassy plains: one chiefdom or clan against another, and retributions sought. Another hazard was the nightime roving of armed bandits.

Written from the memory and onto the page, My Tibetan Childhood is a straight forward and compelling look at old Tibetan customs being smashed to pieces under the Chinese wrecking-ball. There are no hysterics here, nothing mawkish to clutch at pearls and weep into embroidered hankies about – the plain facts are too awful for that sort of pantomime. Just a plain recounting through a young man’s eyes.

Pranks, adventures, superstitions and some tears before bedtime: the story of youth everywhere. It was enjoyiable to read about Nulo’s young escapades and the hazards that life on the grassy plateau threw at him. However, as the Chinese troops come nearer the read becomes darker and infinitely vicious and some parts are tough to read.

This is an important book, one of the defining reads that makes one want to say ‘if you haven’t read this, then we have little in common.’

Sky burial details, murder and torture may disturb, not least because the words are unembellished, however the squeamish can quickly skim over the facts.

The Northeastern part of Amdo was where our author was born. Today, The Han-Chinese is a majority in the eastern part of Qinghai and the provincial capital Xining.

A Tibetan Intellectual, Naktsang Nulo, Shares His Thoughts on Self-Immolations in Tibet (from Jan 2013)

About the author: Naktsang Nulo (born in 1949) worked as an official in the Chinese government, serving as a primary school teacher, police officer, judge, prison governor, and county leader in Qinghai province, China, before retiring in 1993. Angus Cargill was formerly a Lecturer in the Department of Tibetan Language and Literature at Minzu University of China, Beijing.

Trivia: Coral plays a great part in Tibetan culture. It must be that at one time Tibet must have been covered with ocean.

“With little comment or condemnation, [My Tibetan Childhood] records the price paid in lives and lifestyles by the author’s family and community for their incorporation into modern China. . . . In many senses, it is a naive story, the chronicle of a world seen through a child’s eyes. But to readers within Tibet, it was a revelation. It told of epochal events that had rarely if ever been described before in print.”— Robert Barnett, from the introduction.

“As Naktsang tells it, the 1950s were a time of tremendous change: violence, war, exile, survival, and life and death defined so much of the everyday in Amdo and indeed across much of the Tibetan plateau. Told from the perspective of a child, his tale takes us into the complex and at times violent world of Tibetan clans and chiefs. We travel with him and experience the dangers faced on the road: bandits, soldiers, ferocious storms and cold fronts, and hungry wolves. . . . [And we] learn much of the violence that accompanied the ‘peaceful liberation’ of Amdo and the subsequent ‘reforms’ in the late 1950s.”—Ralph A. Litzinger, from the foreword.

Crossposted:
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Angels of the Universe by Einar Már Guðmundsson

bookshelves: film-only, tbr-busting-2014, spring-2014, dodgy-narrator, amusing, iceland, mental-health, published-1993, under-1000-ratings, translation, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, slit-yer-wrists-gloomy, suicide, tragedy

Read from April 25, 2013 to May 04, 2014

 

Universums änglar (2000)”Englar alheimsins” (original title)

Description: Born on the day Iceland joined NATO, this novel’s unstable narrator worries this and other incidental phenomena into a highly complex, hilarious, and tragic cosmology. More interested in David Bowie and the Beatles than the Nordic sagas that shape the lives of the working-class peoples of Reykjavik, Paul retreats into his own fantastic, schizophrenic, painful world. His madness springs from bits of reality and brighter strikes of insanity. Out-of-work and aimless, tormented by bouts of drinking and ferocious tantrums, Paul walks Reykjavik’s streets scaring his family lusting after women, recounting petty humiliations, and imagining the forces that both guide and haunt him. Paul’s behaviors lead him to Klepp, a psychiatric hospital outside Reykjavik where he plays out his days in therapy and frantic conversation with its resident patients. Sparsely inhabited, Klepp tends to a variety of disturbed people creating comedic havoc.

Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters

bookshelves: film-only, published-1995, spring-2014, biography, cambridgeshire, britain-england, nonfiction, washyourmouthout-language, amusing, betrayal, bullies, casual-violence, gulp, lifestyles-deathstyles, medical-eew, newtome-author, ouch, recreational-drugs, sleazy, slit-yer-wrists-gloomy, suicide, tbr-busting-2014, tragedy

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: MBP
Read on May 03, 2014

 

Description: In this extraordinary book, Alexander Masters has created a moving portrait of a troubled man, an unlikely friendship, and a desperate world few ever see. A gripping who-done-it journey back in time, it begins with Masters meeting a drunken Stuart lying on a sidewalk in Cambridge, England, and leads through layers of hell…back through crimes and misdemeanors, prison and homelessness, suicide attempts, violence, drugs, juvenile halls and special schools–to expose the smiling, gregarious thirteen-year-old boy who was Stuart before his long, sprawling, dangerous fall.

Shocking, inspiring, and hilarious by turns, Stuart: A Life Backwards is a writer’s quest to give voice to a man who, beneath his forbidding exterior, has a message for us all: that every life–even the most chaotic and disreputable–is a story worthy of being told.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the author, Alexander Masters.

The Music: You’re Gorgeous – Babybird

Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum

The Style Council – Head Start for Happiness

cliff richard sings Here Comes Summer

The Jam ~ Eton Rifles