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Author Topic: Fiction  (Read 26177 times)
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rmdig
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« Reply #90 on: June 27, 2007, 03:29:11 PM »

kitinkaboodle

Works of fiction I've read recently include: The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald; six or seven of the stories collected in Alistair MacLeod's Island; Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian; Snow by Orhan Pamuk; Rosemary Edmunds' translation of Anna Karenina; and Hunger by Knut Hamsun.  At present I'm working my way through V. S. Naipaul's A House for Mr. Biswas and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius because the main character in Naipaul's story reads Aurelius.

I found The Emigrants interesting but terribly somber.  MacLeod's stories are quite beautifully written -- sometimes perhaps too beautifully if that is possible.  I found McCarthy's Blood Meridian, at least once I got used to the cartoonish violence, rather captivating but ultimately he doesn't do much for me.  Not a writer I would recommend.   Snow was odd and meandering and I can't say I would recommend it, either.  Tolstoy and Naipaul are two of my favorite writers and I read them all the time.  I re-read Hamsun's Hunger after seeing a film version made back in the Sixties.  Absolutely fabulous film!
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rmdig
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« Reply #91 on: June 27, 2007, 03:33:15 PM »

lhoffman

I have read The Magic Mountain three times over the past 30 years and agree the effort is worth the travail.  His weird Death in Venice is also terrific (and so wonderfully brief).
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kitinkaboodle
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« Reply #92 on: June 27, 2007, 04:17:41 PM »

Thanks, rmdig --

Yes, not surprised to see your selections and I'm in agreement with you on Snow in particular.  Wish that A. Macleod would have more of his work available -- Sebald is wonderfully complex -- not familiar with Hunger, but will certainly follow up on book and film.

Have you read any of John Banville?  I would venture that his writing would please you.  
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Don't dance on a volcano...
madupont
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« Reply #93 on: June 27, 2007, 06:41:19 PM »

I enjoy Sebald's ruminating perspective as he ponders what is going on and what does everybody else know that he doesn't know.   

Good thing that he lived, wrote, and died in Manchester, however, since the Germans  recently discovered after the publishing of his last book On the Nature of Violence ( or, some such) -- was it, On the Natural Order of Violence? -- that they have a right to gripe about what they suffered.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #94 on: June 27, 2007, 07:41:39 PM »

I keep looking at Sebald...never quite get to picking it up though.  Perhaps I should.
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rmdig
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« Reply #95 on: June 27, 2007, 08:15:24 PM »

nytempsperdu

Love your screen name.
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rmdig
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« Reply #96 on: June 27, 2007, 08:20:26 PM »

kitinkaboodle

The Hunger film stars a guy named Per Carlson (I think).  The book is very good.  The film might in all honesty be better than the book.  (I can't believe I'm saying that.)
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rmdig
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« Reply #97 on: June 27, 2007, 08:22:31 PM »

nytempsperdu

By all means put Buddenbrooks and Death in Venice on your reading list.  Great stuff.
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« Reply #98 on: June 28, 2007, 03:25:42 PM »

Nytempsperdu, Sir Dirk Bogarde died May 8, 1999 at age 78.  His real name went on and on--I can't remember all of it.  Google his screen name Dirk Bogarde for every little thing you'd like to know.  His film, "The Servant" is one of the creepiest films in my video library.
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madupont
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« Reply #99 on: June 29, 2007, 05:01:15 AM »

" I suppose I shouldn't admit to recalling them, but at least I saw them on old late night tv in my night owl period, not when they first came out! " nytempsperdu

"Dirk Bogarde for every little thing you'd like to know.  His film, "The Servant" is one of the creepiest films in my video library." donotremove

Oh,yeah,well I stayed up late only when my parents weren't home and I watched him when he first came out.

Sometime I also watched him in the afternoon when I stayed in purposefully to watch what he was up to now
and if you think The Servant was  one of the creepiest, I'll give you Creepy!

It starts out like this.  Quartet is the title of a 1948 film based on stories by W. Somerset Maugham. I am just starting high-school and sometimes if I get to stay home when I don't feel so well, I also get to watch tv although the Golden Age of television is not quite yet arrived. Otherwise there are the Late night theaters of television, similar to the Turner Classic Movies, especially on weekends.

One of the four stories in Quartet was,"The Alien Corn" and Bogarde gets the part. He is not quite thirty years old.

So Long at the Fair is a mystery-/suspense-thriller directed by Terence Fisher and Anthony Darnborough in 1950. It stars Dirk Bogarde and Jean Simmons. In its plot elements and style the film is reminiscent of many of the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

That is more an afternoon flick, after all, for this, Jean Simmons is wearing white socks and one of those "New Look" skirts although everyone knows that when the emphasis is not placed on her button-nose --she could be an exotic creature. She is 21. Two years earlier she has played Ophelia to Olivier's Hamlet, and sometimes people mention that she looks astonishingly like his wife Vivien Leigh.Have they met? Let's see, the year before that she has played Kanchi in --Black Narcissus; and two years prior to that, when she was sixteen, she had been cast in Caesar and Cleopatra with Claude Raines and Vivien Leigh, to play the harp. Flora Robson was Ftatateeta.

Oh, and what does Mr. Bogarde do, with this so experienced ingenue who is now the ripe old age of 21? Why, he plays "the detective". When he isn't that he is,"the barrister" or "the servant", oh, that's right, creepy.  Well, let's see...

Try this out at an art house movie back then, or on a rainy afternoon now--

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libel_%28film%29     or, maybe      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victim_%28film%29  1961

By now I am a grown up. Just the same, I have begun to suspect that the British have a peculiar  sex life which may be all very sophisticated but nonetheless "peculiar".  If the first of these two films was risky ( I did not say,"risque"), then the second was the breakthrough that could not have happened if Bogarde had not insisted on doing the first risky film to make the second possible.  Together, what they broke through was the Wolfendon Laws of the UK.

Now, we can go into the prelude of Creepy, by jumping ahead fifteen years to: Mr.Klein, a Harold Pinter story directed by Joseph Losey. He's the same age as Bogarde and I keep wondering if they met in Germany . Bogarde went in the service and came back a changed man; we will get to that change in a moment. Losey, who was born in La Crosse and might have someday directed at a place like the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre across the river in Minnesota, instead goes to Germany to study with Bertoldt Brecht.  For that he is persecuted by Senator McCarthy, his fellow Wisconsinite, and no one in Lalalande will risk working with him. I wish, I could say that Bogarde and Losey met  because of this film which bears the production hallmarks for which Bogarde's creepiest movies will be known. Instead we are introduced for the first time, to Jeanne Moreau.

Five years earlier, Dirk has already played Aschenbach for Visconti, in--Death in Venice, because Visconti had seen him work two years previously in --

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Damned_%28film%29.  To understand what follows, I hope that you will look more closely at what Visconti has in mind at

this time; it is all there in the link. This film also known in German as: Die Verdammten  or die Gotterdamerung  will lead suddenly to another break-through film for Bogarde that astounds people who are either revolted by it or understand it and accept it. It is by another Italian director, a woman, Lila Cavani.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Night_Porter

Didn't I tell you that I'd give you creepy. People of all sexes are astonished at what takes place in this movie. We are no longer among the British.  Dirk Bogarde was now free to immerse himself freely in the Germanic world that VISCONTI insisted on examining. And here's the Aschenbach connection. What is a characters name in THOMAS MANN, is such a familiar common name in Germany that Visconti can reference it to a Nazi party official. I have a few notes and papers for those who care to pursue, DEATH IN VENICE

"fall of 1997, an alternative vision of Berlin cast its metaphysical and historical black ashen gloominess in the Martin-Gropius-Bau as an annex to a landmark retrospective on Deutchlandbilder: Kunst aus einem geteilten Land (German art out of a divided land ). Tucked away in the second floor of the building, the annex exhibit, sponsored by what was then the Foundation of the still unopened Jewish Museum, confronted the visitors with a very different mood. The artists there were not among the anguished Täters but among the detached if not tranquil Opfers, to use the classical German expression for perpetrators and victims. One work of art stood out in particular, Joshua Neustein's black ashen Berlin, entitled 'Aschenbach '. In a a small white walled room, an elaborate two tiered golden chained traditional crystal chandelier hung disconcertedly low at waist level, revealing without however illuminating, an entirely black floor. The floor represented a turn of the 20th century relief map of central Berlin entirely made out of barely consolidated black ashes. The overall feeling was one of frozen eternal desolation: light on one side, darkness on the other without the least interaction.

The 'Aschenbach' reference had a double resonance. In literal terms the word means 'stream of ashes', an appropriate description of the central canal that ran through black ashen Berlin in the work of art. But Gustav Aschenbach is also the name of the protagonist of Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, a barely camouflaged allusion to Gustav Mahler, the Jewish composer who was forced to convert to Catholicism in order to become the conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. Mann's novel depicted the tension between Northern and Southern identities and passions, decadence and death in the plague infested lagoon where inhabitants and visitors alike refused to acknowledge the overwhelming presence of the fatal disease, a disease that could also include, from a Jewish point of view, assimilation and conversion, as a loss of identity. By referring to Aschenbach, Neustein thus transcribed Mann's own pessimistic reading of Western civilisation and the dying metaphor of Venice to a Berlin whose black ashen reality clearly evoked the Holocaust, but not only the Holocaust." -- Diane Pinto

 http://www.jewish-theatre.com/visitor/article_display.aspx?articleID=265

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rmdig
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« Reply #100 on: June 29, 2007, 07:58:37 AM »

nytempsperdu

The film version of Death in Venice is very good.

Is Dirk Bogarde in The Servant creepier than Dirk Bogarde in The Night Porter?
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« Reply #101 on: June 29, 2007, 08:21:59 AM »

Will do, rmdig, though the list threatens to stretch into the next county soon.  My goals in life have become to be able to work long enough to send my kid to vet school and live long enough with eyesight intact (and sufficient gray matter) to read (and "get") all on the list. [...]


Hi rmd! & nytp, worthy goals; same daughter as in the band? not gonna neuter pets but transgender 'em? but eyesight is more finite than the list, couldn't you steer her into optometry?
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weezo
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« Reply #102 on: June 29, 2007, 02:41:34 PM »

NY Temps.

I know exactly how you felt on the commute. I was sitting in my chair sniffling and tears rolling down my face as I read the page over and over not believing that the suggestion in the first chapter would be that little bundle of joy. I thought when they ants hit, it would be Ada, the slow and limpy one, who would fulfill the foreshadow.


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Lhoffman
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« Reply #103 on: June 29, 2007, 11:29:00 PM »

Here is a poem written by Aghostinho Neto (depicted as a friend of Anatole's in PB).

Create
Create create
create in mind create in muscle create in nerve
create in man create in the masses
create
create with dry eyes


create create
over the profanation of the forest
over the brazen fortress of the whip
create over the perfume of sawn trunks
create
create with dry eyes


create create
bursts of laughter over the derision of the palmatoria
courage in the tips of the planter’s boots
strength in the splintering of battered-in doors
firmness in the red blood of insecurity
create
create with dry eyes


create create
stars over the warrior’s
sledgehammer
peace over children’s weeping
peace over sweat over the tears of contract labour
peace over hatred
create
create peace with dry eyes


create create
create freedom in the slave stars
manacles of love on the paganized paths of love
festive sounds over swinging bodies on the simulated gallows


Create
create love with dry eyes.


The NI described Agostinho Neto in 1988 as ‘the quintessential example of the poet as revolutionary, spinning his dreams and inspirational calls to arms from inside prison cells and given the chance to turn imagination into reality as the first President of independent Angola’.
   The description is a quote, but I can't find the source just now.

Also a tribute to Neto by Chinua Achebe


Agostinho, were you no more
Than the middle one favored by fortune
In children's riddle; Kwame
Striding ahead to accost
Demons; behind you a laggard third
As yet unnamed, of twisted fingers?
No! Your secure strides
Were hard earned. Your feet
Learned their fierce balance
In violent slopes of humiliation;
Your delicate hands, patiently
Groomed for finest incisions,
Were commandeered brusquely to kill,
Your gentle voice to battle-cry.

Perhaps your family and friends
Knew a merry flash cracking the gloom
We see in pictures but I prefer
And will keep that sorrowful legend.
For I have seen how
Half a millennium of alien rape
And murder can stamp a smile
On the vacant face of the fool,
The sinister grin of Africa's idiot-kings
Who oversee in obscene palaces of gold
The butchery of their own people.

Neto, I sing your passing, I,
Timid requisitioner of your vast
Armory's most congenial supply.
What shall I sing? A dirge answering
The gloom? No, I will sing tearful songs
Of joy; I will celebrate
The man who rode a trinity
Of awesome fates to the cause
Of our trampled race!
Thou Healer, Soldier and Poet!

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Lhoffman
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« Reply #104 on: July 01, 2007, 07:47:10 PM »

Glad you liked those, Nytempsperdu. 

Today's Book Review in the NYT had a letter from Howard Zinn...a response to last weeks review of his book.   Zinn's letter give us his own perspective of his book, but it is also interesting to look at after reading The Poisonwood Bible.   

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/books/review/Letters-t-1.html

Zinn's new book and  PB both give us perspectives on history.  Kingsolver picks up on the historian's dilemma quite well in voicing Leah and Rachel (although Kingsolver injects her own opinion with less sublety than most historians would)....two girls growing up in the same place at the same time with the same background both draw different conclusions. 
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