- Author: G. Geoffry
- Title: Claude Monet, Sa Vie, Son Oeuvre (1840-1889)
- Published: 1920
- présence de la nature vivante
- souffles de ciel
- chansons apaisées des criques roze
- frissionant des feuillages
- fuite de mer changeante
- Monet ai inventé la mer,
- …les rthymes, les reflets infinis et son mouvement.
- Last thoughts:
- Art gives us what we are missing…
- L’art nous apport ce qui nous manquait !
- The book serves its purpose…depending on
- what you are looking for.
- 50% of the book is filled with 195 reproductions. = beautiful
- The rest of the book is more about the reception (art critics, Salons)
- of Monet’s chef d’oeuvres.
- If you are looking for a book about ‘the man’ Monet
- this is not the one you should read.
- I keep searching for a good biography…of Monet.
- Author: M Duras
- Title: Outside: papiers d’un jour
- Published: 1980
- Language: French
April 10, 2017
- First 12 stories: I liked only 3!
- 6 stories had ‘no real point, message’….just blah, blah.
- 2 stories were too academic…way over my head.
- 1 story was disgusting (Paris abattoirs, animals) just stopped reading, jick!
April 11, 2017
- 12 stories and I liked only 3! (about literature and politics)
- 2: no point, Duras talks in circles (traffic policeman and
- artist Jeanick Ducot)
- 3: interviews: 2 with children and one adult (boring)
- 2: description of Paris on 05 August 1958; next story was
- about her village Neauphle-le-Château
- that has 1 café, 1 jukebox…and closes early.
- 2: old woman visits same bar every night since 1914;
- girl and boy walking home to metro. (so-so)
April 12, 2017
- “I’ve read 30 stories….and am NOT impressed.
- M. Duras does not excel in writing non-fiction.
- Her fiction prose influenced by her exotic childhood in Gia-Dinh
- (a former name for Saigon, Vietnam)…is much, much better.
- I will put this book on the ‘back burner’ for a few days
- and see if it is worth finishing.
- I read 40 stories of the 116 selections;
- Duras has the gift of a snow-job.
- Her style is so fluent you think she will
- express great thoughts
- ….yet she just confuses the reader.
- Many stories I read were interviews.
- We hear Duras’s questions….but answers from
- children, hoodlums, criminals and a carmelite nun.
- Last thoughts:
- I don’t easily give up ….but it’s
- time to close this book…and move on.
- Author: K. Westö
- Title: The Wednesday Club
- Published: 2013
- Trivia: Westö won Finlandia Prize (most prestigous literary award in Finland) 2006
- Trivia: The Wednesday Club is short listed for
- Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year
- Petrona Award 2017
- Psychological landscape of a
- …man, Claes Thune, besieged by obsession.
- Lonely and introspective, …Thune has long
- felt an hostility toward his best friend, Robi Lindemark
- for ‘stealing’ his wife Gabi.
- Thune finds himself contemplating…… ??
What is imaginative about Westö’s writing?
- He uses for one of the main character’s (Matilda Wiik)
- an alter-ego to create tension.
- Westö includes many allusions to art (Picasso), writers (Söderberg), politics
- (Finnish Civil War, far right Lapua Movement, Red and White Guards, prision camps)
- philosophy (Kant) and sports (Paavo Nurmi, Volmari Iso-Hollo).
- Obviously there is much to learn in this book
- …besides a thrilling story!
What purpose does an alter-ego have in the story ?
- Miss Milja (revenge) is Matilda’s Wiiik’s alter-ego.
- There is another voice Matilda does not recognize (reason)
- It allows a Matilda to escape reality.
- Ch 7 ‘Matilda keep that man at a distance’
- CH 7 ‘Get away from here’
- CH 7
- “…stay, he will come…sooner or later.
- And THEN let things happen
- …make a move and wait for a counter move”
- The reader is now so puzzled….you have to keep reading!
- I am not a fan of crime fiction
- …but this book kept me reading all day!
- I still have to read the rest of the short list Petrona Award 2017.
- In my opinion this book is better than
- my first reading choice for short list:
- The Dying Detective (L. Persson)
- Author: M. Eltchaninoff
- Title: Dan la tête de Marine Le Pen
- Published: 2017
- Table of contents: 194 pages
- Marine Le Pen retains the 4 pillars of Front National:
- land, people, life and myth.
- But FN is not the party formed by father Jean Le Penn years ago.
- Marine has morphed Front National
- …into a movement that is adapted to the 21st C.
- Strategie FN:
- Avoid all direct mention of xenophobia.
- Le Pen always speaks in code.
- Le Pen is understandable [gets her message out]
- But Le Pen is not attackable!
- Watch the next French presidential debate and
- …try to listen and “find her coded message”!
- Last thoughts:
- M. Eltchaninoff does an excellent job explaining in brief
- ‘la politique de la France’ with the emphasis
- on the rise of ‘la droite’ (extreme) 18th- 21th C.
- Will Marine Le Pen be the next leader of France?
- ‘..la voix de la France résonne dans le monde quand
- …elle ne suit pas docilement les Étas-Unis.”
- Qui sait?
Author: K. Madigan
Title: Medieval Christianity: A New History
Table of contents: 21 chapters
Timeline: 600 – 1500 AD
The Middle Ages formed a bridge between the Dark Ages
– the powerful ruled, while the powerless looked only to survive –
and the future
– filled with knowledge starting from one monastery to another… –
We think of the Middle Ages as brutal filled with superstition and strange relics.
But it produced much of what we have in the world today:
universities – appreciation of Roman architecture – Gothic style – pilgrimages
Who is Kevin Madigan?
Kevin J. Madigan is a historian of Christianity at Harvard University.
Ch 1-7: I thought the book would be very easy read
but I was challenged from the beginning.
Gnostics, Donatists and Pelagianism are movements I have heard about but
never understood. Now I do!
I push on to monks, bishops, kings and popes.
These are endless pages of history about the rise of Christianity in
Spain, Ireland, UK, France and Germany.
I had to pace myself. (1-3 chapters per sitting)
Often I thought “ I’ve had enough for today….”
You can’t rush history.
Ch 8: Suddenly a ‘lightbulb’ lit up in my head.
The similarities between Trump and Pope Gregory VII are astonishing!
“…he was capable of imagining new rules, new laws,
if ancient ones did not suit or could not be located…”
I had to make a connection to the present to keep myself
engaged with the book.
Ch 9: Adage ‘What doesn’t kill you, can only make you stronger…is not valid
… when it comes to St. Norbert of Xanten (1080-1134).
He adopted an asceticism so fierce that it killed his first three disciples.
Ch 11-12 Madigan delves into the lives of some famous saints:
St Dominic and his followers who were know as the ‘hounds of the Lord.
They were inquisitors who were the
most dedicated and ruthless.
We learn about St Francis of Assisi (birth name: John).
Dante imagined Francis in Paradiso as a rising sun.
Ch 13-21: I began to falter during the last few chapters.
They were filled with anecdotal material
about heretics (Wycliffe, Hus) mystics, anchoresses and
some saints we have long forgotten.
The Great Schism (Papal Schism) 1378-1417…. 3 different popes!
Most belligerent figures:
Boniface VIII en Koning Philip IV France.
They refused to compromise….so one of them had to die!
Most misunderstood thinker: Peter Abelard (1079-1142)
He clashed with St. Bernard and his view of monastic theology.
All you need is faith.
Abelard’s view of scholastic theology
brought light into the dark ages!
He believed we needed to use our common sense and reason to
come closer to God.
Would I recommend the book?
Yes, without any reservations
….it will inform any interested reader.
Caveat: The book is long.
What was my impression of the book?
This book gives us a picture of Medieval Christianity
well-informed carefully balanced.
The title mentioned ‘A New History’.
But I felt is just repeated the
…basics about the Middle Ages.
I had hoped for information that has been
discovered in the last 40 years by scholars.
I wanted more and got less.
- Author: M Duras
- Title: Les petits chevaux de Tarquinia
- Published: 1953
- Language: French
1. Explain the title. In what way is it suitable to the story?
The group wants to visit Les Petits Chevaux de Tarquinia (pg 160 and 166, 217). Some members in the group must decide to ‘stay together’ or refuse to join the trip.
2. What is the predominant element in the story?
Setting: Oppressive heat, no wind, sun burning like a furnace influences the character’s mood.
There is no rain to quench this parched earth. The only escape is the sea.
There is a forest fire creeping slowly towards the village, a river that marks the dividing line for Sara (main character) between staying in a loveless marriage or crossing over to the other side and a new life.
3. Who is the single main character about. whom the story centres?
Sara is the main character.
4. What sort of conflict confronts the leading character or characters?
a. External – Sara is trying to overcome a personal crisis in her marriage.
b. Internal – Sara must choose: love with it’s ups and downs or the thrill of desire.
5. How is the conflict resolved?
Sara has difficulty saying what she thinks about her marriage. Finally she has reached a point of no return. Sara and Jacques decide to let each other be ‘free’. If Sara returns to him…then he knows it was her choice.
6. How does the author handle characterisation?
a. Description – all the characters are nameless except for the members in the group. This is done to intensify the reader’s focus on these individuals.
Finally we know name ‘homme’ (Jean, pg 112, 172, 173) and nanny (Jeanne, pg 116) but Duras does not use the names in the rest of the story.
b. Conversation – personalities emerge during the conversation among SJGL.
Half way through the book Sara decides to say the truth for a change to her husband after being seduced by ‘homme’: I feel like cheating (have an affair)….like you do!
Could this be the point of no return for Sara? (pg 114)
7. Who tells the story? What point of view is used?
a. Third person narrator
8. Where does the primary action take place?
Characters have been in the isolated Italian vacation village for two weeks when the book starts. They are lethargic, bored, and desperate for a cool breeze while spinning ice cubes in their drinks.
9. What is the season? time of day?
Torrid heat, sun burning like a furnace, summer vacation in isolated Italian village.
10. How much time does the story cover? timeline?
11. How does the story get started? What is the initial incident?
Sara and Jacques are waiting for their friends to arrive Gina and Ludi.
They always vacation with them.
12. Briefly describe the rising action of the story.
Slowly cracks are showing in this ‘group friendship.’ (pg 97) The tension increases when a mystery man (homme) arrives in the village. He has his eye on Sara. She is swept away by the idea of being a object of desire.
13. What is the high point, or climax, of the story?
After 3 days of seduction ‘homme’ waits for Sara to meet him for their night of love.
14. Discuss the falling action or close of the story.
I’d rather not reveal any information about this because it would spoil the story.
15. Does this story create any special mood?
Boredom of the characters drips off the pages….still I feel a ominous tension.
Friendship (in group) can be just as complicated as love (between partners).
16. Is this story realistic or true to life?
Love: Sara’s situation is universal: by getting what she most desires (the thrill of being object of desire for ‘homme’) she loses more than she gets.
Desire is for the moment, love is for a lifetime.
Friendship: Jacques describes their group think:
We are all fools, but we are endowed with the same stupidity, that’s why we get along well with each other. (pg 77)
17. Are the events presented in flashback or in chronological order? (structure)
The book is divided into four parts representing four chronological days.
There was one strange flashback about the death of Sara’s brother. When he died so did her childhood (pg 54). It never connected to any part of the story. Very strange.
19. What is the general theme of the story?
Allow yourself the possibility of failure (Sara decision to yield to her desire or not).
Only then do you increase your chances of success (keeping her marriage together).
20. Did you identify with any of the characters?
‘l’homme’: I didn’t really have much interest in bored women on vacation (Sara, Diana and Gina).
I did feel an intense interest for ‘homme’. He was 30 yr., nameless throughout the book, no face, no features. But he was a constant threat. Duras used this ‘suspense’ to keep the reader enthralled. Who is he? What is he planning to do?
24. Does the story contain a single effect or impression for the reader?
The main character asks what is love?
“Love is an predetermined misfortune, you can’t escape it.” (pg 72)
25. Name one major personality trait of each leading character.
Sara does not say what she thinks. She conceals her feelings.
26. Does the story have a message? what was the purpose of the author ?
The effect of group membership on individual behavior.
At times it can feel oppressing (just like the hear), yet it can be the support you need at difficult times in your life.
27. Does this story contain any of the following elements?
a. Symbolism: The river: When Sara is kissed for the first time by ‘homme’ she sees the reflection on the river in his eyes. The river represents the freedom Sara can have (leave a loveless marriage) if she only dares to let go and flow with the river.
b. Motif: Bitter Campari. The pervasive consumption of alcohol throughout the story (mentioned 50 x) sharpens the feeling of boredom, emptiness during the vacation. As Diana says:
“C’est la magique!” (pg 48)
c. Irony: Sara refuses an invitation for a boat ride, she wants to consult with the group. (pg 29). Ironically on pg 76 she says ‘l’homme’ should think and do what he wants! This is an important element in the story group vs individual.
There is NO action…only and exchange of thoughts, feelings, desires and fears.
Yet I read every page.
Duras describes the monotonous vacation days of 4 middle age adults.
Each part has these basic scenes: vacation bungalow, swim at the beach, drinks at the hotel and back to the bungalow.
Strong point: the tension Duras created around ‘mystery man, Sara’s eagerness to go on his boat (even though she cannot swim) and her four year old child (mystery man takes a strong interest in the young boy).
Weak point: subplot about an elderly couple who refuse to sign son’s death certificate. This part of the story felt out of place with the rest of the languid mood.
- Author: Charles Dickens
- Title: Bleak House
- Genre: novel, satire of manners
- Published: monthly parts, March 1852– September 1853
What does the title mean: Bleak House ?
- Irony: Bleak means, cold and unsheltered, somber and damp.
- Bleak house is exact the opposite!
- Ch 6: Esther describes the house as a delightful irregular home.
- “…in every one (room) of which a bright miniature of the fire was blazing.
- …charming little sitting-room, looking down upon a flower-garden,”
- Practically every other location in the book is bleak!
- Chensey Wold, the Chancery courthouse, Tom-All-Alone’s,
- Krook’s Rag and Bone shop, Mrs. Jellyby’s neglected and bare rooms
- …and the slum home of Jenny and her family.
What is the point-of-view?
- Anonymous 3rd person : narrator (Dickens ?)
- who dares address ‘the Lords of gentlemen’ of England
- Modest, humble 1st person: Esther
- the least powerful voice in the novel.
What is the tone?
- Dickens uses a very satirical narrative to set the tone.
- His choice of words and the viewpoint on a corrupt judicary
- are central to the book.
What is the BEST quote in the book?
- This quote sums up the main theme Dickens wanted to expose:
- “It won’t do to have TRUTH and JUSTICE on his side;
- he must have LAW and LAWYERS…” (Ch 55)
What is the mood?
- I read and listened to the first few paragraphs of chapter 1 at least 5 x.
- I think it is one of the BEST examples of creating a mood through setting.
- Dickens makes you feel the emotional situation that surrounds his characters.
- He wants to FOG and MUD set the mood.
- The images of fog and mud that surround the Court of Chancery
- reveal no one can escape the terrible weather conditions or the courts!
- The legal case Jarndyce vs Jarndyce is central in the book.
- This suit symbolizes material property.
- It is about a will and testament.
- Inheritance of property (Bleak House)
- Inheritance of affection (mother/daughter)
- Judiciary: the presentation of lawyers and legal processes
- is corrupt and deliberately obscure.
- NO oral evidence is given in the Chancery.
- Everything is on paper…
- bills, cross-bills, rejoinders, affidavits, issues (Ch 1)
- Suits just melt away in their own costs: Jarndyce vs Jarndyce
What is the structure?
- Bleak House has a ‘circular narrative’.
- It ends where the story begins on Chancery lane.
- Chancery lane resembles the entire society.
- Krook’s Rag and Bone Shop is on Chancery lane.
- Miss Flite and Nemo/Captain Hawdon have rooms there.
- The Jellybys and the Snagsbys live near Chancery Lane
What social commentary does Dickens highlight in the book?
- Tom-All-Alone’s is an example of a slum area, fallen into disrepair.
- People who live in slums do so because they have nowhere else to go.
- Mr Dickens names Tom-All-Alone’s after a boyhood memory
- of a house built by a local eccentric.
- Its name sums up the individual and collective
- …misery and loneliness of the place.
Who are some quirky characters?
- Lady and Lord Dedlock: – deadlock …couple that produce no heirs
- Rev. Mr. Chadband: loves his own voice, bravuras and flourishes
- Mrs. Jellyby: people who help noble causes (Africa) but neglect own children
- Mr. Skimpole: people who ‘do absolutely nothing’ in society
- Capt. Hawdon: living secretly as his nickname indicates ‘Nemo’ = nobody
- Mr. Jarndyce: Dickens uses a the clever symbol of ‘east winds’
- …something evil or depressing is bothering this man.
Why is Bleak House considered the best Dickens novel?
- It has everything!
- Curse of the Ghost’s path is explained and Lady Dedlock’s foot steps will break the evil.
- Lady Dedock believes her child is dead – Esther believes her mother is dead.
- Rosa is surrogate daughter for Lady Dedlock; Esther surrogate daughter for Jarndyce.
- Detectives: there are unskilled, skilled, Tulkinghorn who
- …threatens suspects and Mr. Bucket who conjoles them!
- Letters: contains secrets, are lost, hidden, falsified…‘smoking gun’ evidence!
- Names: Honoria Dedlock is ironically not at all honorable …child out of wedlock
- Nicknames: Esther has several…Why?
- Ch 8: “…my being called Old Woman, and Little Old Woman, and Cobweb, and Mrs. Shipton, and Mother Hubbard, and Dame Durden…”.
- Esther’s guardian Mr Jarndyce is assigning her an important role as
- the woman who will manage Bleak House.
- The house keys symbolize responsibility.
- I’ve mentioned just a few items about the book….
- but there is so much more to discover when you read it.
- I avoided the book merely because of its size.
- This was my big mistake.
- Never judge a book by its cover or size!
- Dickens is the greatest victorian novelist.
- Strong points: realism, humor, characters with quirks and dialects
- If you put the names of all the characters in an
- excel spreadsheet then you will see that
- they all connect to the law suit in one way or the other.
- That is an amazing writing achievement by Dickens!
- Of all of Dickens’s novels Bleak House is not a best seller.
- It is outsold by millions of copies by A Tale of Two Cities.
- Yet it is often chosen as the ‘best’ Dickens novel.
- I totally agree!
- I am taking part in Brona’s Books #HLOTRreadalong 2017.
- I read The Hobbit but did not plan to write a review.
- Now I at least want to try to put some thoughts on paper.
- I am not a fan of fantasy …so this will be a journey for me
- as well as for Frodo, Merry, Pippen and Sam.
- My quest: complete the read-a-long!
- I needed to break the reading down into manageable parts.
- The Hobbit in February – DONE
- The Fellowship of the Ring in March – April – READING
- The Two Towers in May – June
- The Return of the King in July – August
- Write a blogpost after 6 chapters.
- This is the half way point in Fellowship of the Ring book 1.
- Write a short wrap-up post after I finish the book.
- My post will consist of my ‘random thoughts’ while reading.
- I’m trying to keep it simple.
Thoughts: Book 1 – chapters 1-6
- Quotes: settle down and grow some hobbit – sense!(Gandalf)
- Quotes: do not meddle in the affairs of wizards (Gildor)
- Quotes: short cuts make long delays (Pippen)
- Gandalf = wisdom
- Sauron = evil
- One Ring = power
- Old Man Willow tree = anger of nature toward those who try to destroy it
- Search or pursuit made in order to find or obtain something
- Gollum and Sauron are on a quest find The ONE (ring).
- Ch 3: ‘What is to be my quest?
- Bilbo went to FIND a treasure…
- but I go to LOSE one…
- Ch 3: Frodo is on a quest “…find the Cracks of Doom…”
- great fissure that split a long tunnel that bored into Mount Doom.
- I enjoyed The Hobbit more than this book
- …just because I know what is going to happen in Lord of the Rings.
- I should have read the book first, then see the films versions.
- But if I read the book carefully
- ….there is much to discover besides the plot!
- Backround information: LotR does fill in the missing ‘gaps’ The Hobbit.
- Tension: Tolkien keeps the reader captivated with the hints Gandalf repeats
- Ch 1: The Ring: keep it safe, keep it secret; don’t use it!;
- Gandalf’s attitude: I am not certain, so I will say no more;
- I wonder many other things.
- The old wizard looked as if he was carrying a great weight.
- Ch 5: Figure: it looked like a dark black bundle
- … Something that is following us.
- Puzzle: Tolkien gives names to stars I don’t recognize but
- he adds descriptions to help the reader.
- My research taught me that
- Arda = earth; Eä = the universe; Timeless Halls = heaven.
- Ch 3: This book can be approached no only as a story but also as a puzzle!
- Remmmirath = Netted stars (Pleiades)
- Menelvagor = Swordsman of the Sky with shining belt (Orion).
- Borgil rose glowing like a jewel of fire (bright orange star in Taurus)
- Alliteration: I love Tolkien’s use of this literary device.
- It gives the text a musical effect…makes reading attractive to the ear!
- Ch 1: Frodo, Folco, Fredegar
- Brandybuck, Burrows, Bolger, Bracegirdle,
- Boffins, Bagginses, Brockhouse
- Grubb, Chubb
- Ch 4: bog and briar; deeply dug beds; steep slippery sides
- Friendship: is a element of ch 5.
- Ironically Frodo feels he cannot trust anyone.
- Merry explains he CAN trust his friends
- …to stick to you through thick and thin, to the bitter end.
- Merry explains Frodo CANNOT trust them
- … to let you face trouble alone and go off without a word.
I used this to follow Frodo, Pippen, Merry and Sam during these chapters.
- Editor: Tara Prescott
- Title: Neil Gaiman in the 21st Century
- Published: 2015
Essay: What Neil Gaiman Teaches Us About Survival (M. Miller)
Essay: Remembering the dead: narrative of childhood (R. Long)
I read 2 essays commenting on Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
I plan to read this book very soon.
Commenting on essays that are works on a single book by Neil Gaiman is not easy!
How do you review a review?
What is the narrator in Gaiman’s the book trying to do?
The narrator is trying to survive his traumatic childhood.
Essay nr 1:
Monica Miller tells us that the child uses creation and imagination to survive.
Creation here is the art of cooking and sewing (domestic arts)
that give the boy a sense of comfort and security at Hempstock farmhouse.
He has lost the feeling of being safe in his violent home (abuse).
The Hempstock ladies – grandmother, mother and daughter
help the narrator relive, restore and recover from his trauma.
They seem magical to the young boy!
Essay nr 2:
Rebecca Long tells us the nucleus of childhood is imagination and memory.
Children construct childhood as they go along.
Childhood is not only lived experiences but stories and narratives other than their own.
The narrator is constantly trying to figure out what was ‘lived’ and what was ‘imagined’.
Child is caught between the inner (imagination) and outer world (reality).
His trauma can only be resolved through a cycle of remember, retell what he has
forgotten….only then to forget it again.
Do the essays have anything in common?
Both essays emphasize the importance of imagination in a child’s life.
Rebecca Long’s essay was good but didn’t appeal to me.
She relies on quotes by philosophers
Trigg and Warnock, Hollindale and literary theorist Frye to support her views.
Tone: academic, helpful, knowledgeable
I enjoyed essay nr 1 because it felt more polished and personal
Monica Miller referred to many lovely quotes
from the book. and also used Neil Gaiman’s famous speech
‘Make Good Art’ as the backbone of her essay.
Tone: sincere, intelligent, creative