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Tag Archives: Classics

Booked Out

After redeeming a Waterstones stamp card and claiming back all my amassed points, this book haul was cheap for its size, the entirety of which set me back a paltry £17.98, of which most was spent in second-hand bookshops.

BuckAndBooks

First off was a trip to the charity shops where I found a my first Virago – a publisher beloved by so many on here – and then a second, bookended by yet more recommendations and at the price it would have been silly not to.

FoodForThought

Visiting the wonderfully named Mrs Lofthouse’s Second Hand Book Emporium, I expected great things, but the above collection is sadly all I found, the fiction section in particular was deeply lacking in-depth to my mind.  I wanted to pick up more but there was little else of note and thus came away with quality instead of quantity. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 14/10/2016 in Essays, Fiction, Lists/Ephemera, Travel

 

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What to Read Next? The Eternal Question

BOOKS!!!

Poorly taken photo of a couple of my bookshelves.

I knew that eventually this day would come but it was always over the horizon and never a real worry, yet now that the day has finally arrived and I’ve reached total paralysis on choosing a book.  Now to delegate the hard work to you thoughtful and knowledgable people, your suggestions from this fine mass of literature for my next read will be much appreciated.  To make it more interesting, I will select an entry at random and the writer of said comment will get the grand old prize of a pleased nod from moi AND a sense of enormous well-being for your efforts.

  • Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell
  • Darkness at Noon – Arthur Koestler
  • The Bridge over the Drina – Ivo Andrić
  • 11.22.63 – Stephen King
  • The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut
  • Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  • Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages – R.W. Southern
  • Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens
  • Poor Folk – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Fortunes of the Rougons – Émile Zola
  • The Crystal World – J. G. Ballard
  • The Luzhin Defence – Vladimir Nabakov
  •  How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the F.A. Cup – J. L. Carr
  • The Gravedigger – Peter Grandbois
  • The Jewel in the Crown – Paul Scott
  • The Coup – John Updike
  • Maps for Lost Lovers – Nadeem Aslam
  • Literature and Evil – George Bataille

 

 

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Boston Books Too

It feels good to round-up yet another book haul, two of which I have already read due to my recharged batteries and also because I find it hard to sleep before 2am, when I can sleep at night that is.

SAM_2856

The Ghosts We Know is a graphic novel which I found really interesting but you’ll have to wait for a review to find out why, it will be added to some reading lists though hopefully.  Why I Read and A Magnificent Farce are two books that come from my favourite shelves in any bookshop, the books about books section., nothing is going to get the readers back in like a book reiterating why a person loves to read. Such bliss will be saved for a rain day…if I can avoid temptation.

Hellenica is a collection of essays on Greek poetry, philosophy, history and religion and has a fantastically almost brand new feel to it and bringing up the rear in this photos pleasures was a book that will force me to read another book beforehand.  The Tangled Chain is a study on the structures and anomalies of the medical/scientific/philosophy work The Anatomy of melancholy.  Sometimes I need a push myself to the more challenging works and if buying another book helps it’s a bonus. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 05/07/2016 in Boston, Lists/Ephemera

 

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Penguin Great Ideas

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves – and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives – and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

WP_20160612_001It turns out I have managed to acquire seven of the one hundred great ideas that Penguin is selling at the cheap price of £4.99 without once realising their connection.  Two things strike me as faintly absurd, firstly that I would own seven books in a set but owing to the vast distance between the corners of my amassed collection and a poor memory, that I wouldn’t have made the connection earlier.

Secondly the price which is a steal, it enables people to pick up a bite sized portion of a new author to see what all the fuss is about and it also brings the reader loads of fascinating essays at a ridiculously decent price as well.  Who would not wish to dabble in such studies that have changed the way we view the world and in a good few instances how we actually live.

From tumultuous periods of history to thoughtful essays, the books empower the mind and allow us to read the key thoughts that defined past generations.  These are of course extracts from other books so why pick these up when you can pick these plus more in a book?  Well partly it is the need to know what texts these authors are famous for and also to gauge whose style I get on with so I can chart my reading to take the path of least resistance. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 12/06/2016 in Classics, Essays, Philosophy, Politics, Science

 

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To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

WoolfWhistleEvery summer, the Ramsay’s visit their summer home on the beautiful Isle of Skye, surrounded by the excitement and chatter of family and friends, mirroring Virginia Woolf’s own joyful holidays of her youth. But as time passes, and in its wake the First World War, the transience of life becomes ever more apparent through the vignette of the thoughts and observations of the novel’s disparate cast.

Focusing on the idiosyncrasies and insecurities which we all recognise in ourselves, this book by turns witty and dark with an ever-present feeling of familiarity.  Woolf’s layered exploration of the relationships between people and places and the effects time has on both is as deft as it can be frustrating at times.

Played out over a decade in which WWI cruelly intervenes, this poignant depiction of life,  explores themes of loss, class and social structure and the question of perception on the connections we make and what they mean to us.

The language is the key to the readers enjoyment (or otherwise), it is wonderfully written with long, rhythmic sentences, plenty of commas and swirling prose containing tangents that comes back on themselves time and again like the waves breaking below the Ramsay’s holiday home.

On the flip side, I found it easy to get somewhat disoriented if I didn’t concentrate, the lengthy sentences and abrupt change of character can render certain passages confusing if one is not constantly focussed.  Of course if you do choose to lose yourself in the language, your patience will be infinitely rewarded by the richness of the prose.

It felt like I had spent an age reading through Woolf’s words but it was fitting, as this is one of those books that demands time and expects to be digested slowly for its richly descriptive paragraphs and multifaceted outlook on a number of factors. Life, death, feminism, psychology, place in society and so forth are all spoken about in subtle allusions rooted in literature and the thoughts of the time. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 26/01/2016 in Classics

 

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The Social Contract – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Amazon‘Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains’

These are the famous opening words of a treatise which, from the French Revolutionary Terror of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, has been interpreted as a blueprint for totalitarianism.  But in The Social Contract Rousseau (1712-78) was at pains to stress the connection between liberty and law, freedom and justice.  Arguing that the ruler is the people’s agent, not its master, he claimed that laws derived from the people’s General Will.  Yet in preaching subservience to the impersonal state he came close to defining freedom as the recognition of necessity.

I’m no expert but from previous brief sojourns into the world of social political writing –  in the form of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke – Rousseau diverges from both of his English counterparts on the subject with his own model on the titular social contract.

As a classic work of political philosophy that still has merit for the reader today, I found this treatise to be a fascinating and complex work, both making a lot of sense but also coming across with a lot of naivety as well, perhaps the latter is due to hindsight or just that now we have a better understanding of global history.

Unsurprisingly for a French writer, this is a book based squarely in the corner of Republicanism and what the ideal state would be like with the freedom for all within a social and legislative structure.  The collectivism of the general will above the individual needs and desires would see every person participate in chosen law and civic organisation which would ultimately make them free. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 12/01/2016 in Classics, History, Philosophy, Politics

 

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Found in Translation – Part 2

I started reading Émile Zola’s Germinal at the beginning of last week – somewhat coincidentally to the timing of these posts – which I am thoroughly enjoying, although if reading about the tough struggles of a mining village in 1860’s France can indeed be called enjoyable, is perhaps a debate left for another post.  I originally picked Germinal up in the local library which these days is the closest thing we have resembling a Tower of Babel, although I doubt there were no screaming kids on that building site ruining my reading whilst parents indulgently look on…but I have digressed already despite my intentions so apologies in advance for the muddled mass of musing hereon in.

Babelicious

The Tower of Babel painted marten Van Valckenborch 1534-1612

With the advent of printing presses then translations due to public thirst, through to the joys of bookshops adorning all decent streets, the book market has grown to massive proportions.   The huge plethora of tomes these days makes amassing a huge personal library something really easy and cheap to do as well as a source of pride and a hobby all itself.  Back in the day 20 books would have been regarded as a library but as universities taught reading and the power of the church waned, everybody could get involved and create as they wished, I wonder how many of you authors out there have considered getting your work translated?  Just a thought…

Technology keeps becoming ever more impressive and has helped us no end with opening beer bottles easier and negotiating those tricky TV channels but can it be programmed to know the nuances of language and to understand colloquial interpretations?  These things are pretty impenetrable for us reasoning beings quite a lot of the time but for a mere computer…at least we have the consolation of knowing that when the machines take over all our jobs and probably the world, we will still have that and plenty of strange customs steeped in the deepest tradition, that defy belief yet must be elucidated upon for us to understand them in our own social terms. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 23/06/2015 in Languages

 

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