Archives de Catégorie: Reading

« Ike’s Bluff, President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World » – by Evan Thomas

« I haven’t worried about the weather since June 6, 1944. » The invasion of Normandy (I looked it up).

General Eisenhower is cagey.

He reads war. This presidency is a separate animal; it is not the progress of technological advances, nor media’s ability to interpret and deliver information which gives breath, not breadth, to mankind. It is neither that media offers the stage for curious reassurance, and rather that media deserves the reverent diversion. President Eisenhower is masterful. Games are inherent, to war, to security, to ably access intelligence. President Eisenhower commands reverential distance.

It is not that this President’s health suffered for the apparent strain of blame and responsibility, it is that suffering was internalized. He played his hand in stoic solitude. He was a presidential panacea for secrecy of military operations.

This book is about evolution. It is about the presidency, not the politics. This evolution is of advantage; all presidencies evolve, the position is explicit to its seat for the moment. As America’s conscience deems inexcusably ideal, so the world invites itself to collaborate, and with each presidency evolves this citizenship’s ability to access information. This evolution was not one of war, but destruction; it was the evolution of strength, the evolution of fortitude.

Evan Thomas pens words which spark interest to any politically-minded circulation for readers of independent political philosophy and intrigue. It is a tell-all with his know-how.

Publicités

Poster un commentaire

Classé dans Biographies, Books, Reading

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

Complicated relationships are inevitable; they are involved. This book tells the story of entanglements. Hemingway has written this book with a complexity of relative friendship which disregards contented cooperation in deference to living a spontaneous lifestyle. We don’t discuss indiscretion, it festers and scars. Moral dilemma is non-participating, but it is a thematic undercurrent for Hemingway.

War, involved participation in positions of authority or class, destination, language, linguistics, a characterization of service through personification, all of these are his utilities for the capture of rapt attentive involvement with this author. This story involves all of it, it is a snarl of wounds without remedy of solution.

War is avoidable, (p. 24/25), « … the war… was in reality a calamity for civilization, and perhaps would’ve been better avoided. » He infers soldiering is an heroic effort that is best, and perhaps only, aptly endured (withstood, recovered from) with lucidity and foresight. He hands over his injuries with no reluctant antagonism. War is hell, and while it is a soldier’s hell-ish involvement and is avoidable, it is also unforeseen and best shed.

Chapter 5 – everything that happens in Paris, happens at night. It is good to at least know of your partner when you dance with the devil. Hemingway knows social graces and is a writer’s absolution.

He uses real-life names, celebrities of his day, as a way to keep his story grounded with all artistic temperament of this literary era, (p. 49), « Mencken hates Paris, I believe. So many young men get their likes and dislikes from Mencken. » His writing never veers from his direction and he always knows where he needs to go. He moves forward, disallowing descriptive imaginings to romanticize the effort, (p. 28), « Georgette was dancing with the tall blond youth, who danced big-hippily, carrying his head on one side, his eyes lifted as he danced. » This is Paris, it’s romantic already; this is Hemingway it’s romantic when you’re involved. He teases emotional preoccupation, (p. 71), she said « Good night, darling. I won’t see you again. We kissed standing at the door. She pushed me away. »

Hemingway speaks above the words, he is the literary purpose within these pages. His narrator is the primary subject in this story, Jake Barnes. He is American, a professional and a writer, living in Paris. He is not part of the social circle, the literary center of these times. He is the indignant mouthpiece as one who reads and is inspired by reading, then finds journalistic livelihood as a monetary leg-up into society. He discusses society as a consideration, it evolves. The Count, Lady Ashley’s flirtation with nobility, is the appearance of an economic evolution, where reigning noble entitlement meets a history destroyed by hostility, (p. 66), « I have been in seven wars and four revolutions, » the Count invites the shock of humilitude. For Hemingway there is always someone with perspective for stability, they never seem to grasp Jake’s direction.

His characterizations are a list of pitfalls:

  • Bill is a debt, the personification of baggage
  • Brett is the invitation into society
  • Mike is the unrestrained, the loose cannon without the screen of conversational inhibition
  • Lastly, the forgotten, Robert Cohn, is a regret. Robert Cohn (he requires both names to suggest familiarity) is the nagging alternative, the alter-perspective. This guy is the idea you can’t shake off or be rid of. He’s the advocate for distraction, and is typically dismissed, and only occassionally is he recognized, (p. 155), « We all felt good and we felt healthy, and I felt quite friendly to Cohn. You could not be upset about anything on a day like (this). »

This is a generation built to experience difference; to sight-see and to be there in the moment. To Jake, money is no object, (p. 96/97, and many others). He understands the power and authority of finance. His is the guideline for prosperous well-being while others of his circle are comparatively negligent. Jake is the big spender, not realizing that spending isn’t the easiest route. He gets where he’s going, though he is always disenchanted or disappointed, (p. 152), « I thought I had paid for everything… No idea of retribution or punishment. Just exchange of values. You gave up something and got something else. » Since this life is fleeting, they will have no cares, (p. 235), « Don’t worry about money, » Mike said, « You can pay for the car… I’ll send my share, » and we here, all of us, are good for our debts is his conviction.

Hemingway writes from experience, where he writes is where he’s been. He compares in order to suggest. To define ‘clean’ one needs a disadvantage of filth, (p.97), « I saw a cockroach on the parquet floor that must have been about 3 inches long… (it) must have come in from the garden. It really was an awfully clean hotel. » He has generous depth of understanding, what he sees is made anew through his wealth of exposure, (p. 96), « Bayonne is a nice town. It is like a very clean Spanish town… ».

His writing is a class unto itself, (p. 71), « She kissed the Count and put her hand on his shoulder to keep him from standing up. » Rather than ‘declarative’ as his literary constituents have suggested, this is not a sentence, this is class. He may have said, « She kissed the Count, leaving her hand on his shoulder… » and further, « suggesting (or to suggest) he needn’t stand. » Excluding the obvious familiarly feminine style my alternative evokes, the more important aspect is in his word distinction which is invested with his class or station in life. He dismisses necessary imagery as uninventive.

He sees distance; the horizon is forever, (p. 98), « You couldn’t see the sea. It was too far away. You could see only hills and more hills, and you knew where the sea was. » He depicts time as there and gone, « The next day Pedro Romero did not fight… The next day there was no bull-fight scheduled… all day and all night the fiesta kept on. » The next chapter begins the third day, (p. 174), « I walked out beyond the town to look at the weather… The flags on the square hung wet… and the streets wet and dark and deserted; yet the fiesta kept up without any pause. »

He describes the ‘clip’ of a conversation, « He asked me how many times I had seen him in the ring. I told him only three. It was really only two, but I did not want to explain after I had made the mistake. » He is a writer with the gift of social grace, he is a gentleman with relative objectivity.

His descriptions are simplicity. Beauty is subtle, (p. 234), « There was the green of the headlands, the white, red-roofed villas, patches of forest…, » he then creates a visual border for the senses, « … and the ocean… with… tide…and (the) water curling… along the beach. »

He writes that all language communicates necessarily, irrespective of a native authentic tongue. Hearing and speaking are separate skills. People are resourceful with language, and companionable people are expressive. He is genteel.

When he’s made it as far as he wished to go, « I can stay another week. I think I’ll go as far as San Sebastian, » (p. 232). His destination was intentional.

This is a book about complicated relationships, and this is just one story. All story’s conclude, and not all story’s are unexpected. The last page he acknowledges the frailty of species: Women need men in many more and different ways than men need women. He saves Lady Ashley as a courtesy; he is masculine and he keeps his position within society. Gentlemen are invested with rigor should formal chivalry be of necessity to a lady’s weaknesses, and « Isn’t it pretty to think so? »

A perfect title, he is the author, and this book has one. The only truth we have is that the sun will rise, and that each day beholds a fresh beginning.

Poster un commentaire

Classé dans Books, Reading

The Critical Tradition, Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends – Daniel H. Richter

I read excerpts. Two essays by Virginia Woolf and a third by Helene Cisoux, all were written to regard feminism in literature.

The two essays by Virginia Woolf involved female acceptance, as I see it. Though seclusion being a better characterization of her intent, since it seemed as if she felt female seclusion something which society hasn’t the will to inspire. The idea of seclusion as not simply a space (room), which offers a writer (in my case a reader) peace and quiet in order to achieve peace of mind (peace of thought for a writer, in this case, Virginia Woolf). These two essays from « A Room of One’s Own » were collaboratively, as collected in this work, a psychology of writers and writing with a very slim idea of feminity being different in that acceptance is moot, and that the reason points to masculinity as being impressed upon language within literature, and so what society accepts as influential, is masculine.

The first I read was on the romance of writing, on Austen-Bronte-Eliot, and she depreciates this style of writing and sometimes these their works, since, as she claims, it would have been and would still be better accepted by a larger community should they have been men and should the styles have been masculine. She points to sarcastic dismissal of some of this work. She suggests that where men write in tones which are naturally accepted, with « a natural prose, swift but slovenly, » and since these tones were « unsuited for a woman’s use » at that time, that the art must have suffered with the « inadequacy » of language acceptable for a woman’s use. She infers women’s values and interests are less-often conveyed with concern in literature and that doubtless women are suffering in life due to this fact of the era.

It seemed to me as though she sat down to write this with intention, and that the intention was to answer this problem of gender dissatisfaction in literature, for herself. She claims that this particular age discouraged worldliness, and that without vast experience, writers are stunted. « If Jane Austen suffered in any way from her circumstances it was in the narrowness of life that was imposed upon her, » (p. 603), and, « … women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties… they suffer from too rigid a restraint. »

One question she suggests is the question of poetic outlet, why do women write novels?

She is arrogant regarding prose, (p. 606), she regards poetry as a need, « For it is the poetry that is still denied outlet. » She proclaims poetry as suitable for the novel, the play, the written word in any length. Sentences are structural is her declaration, and any sentence, of itself, is unfinished. They (sentences) expound.

The second essay entitled « Shakespeare’s Sister » involved a tirade of expectation and non-equivalency. She impunes parental heir-oriented indulgence, as she embellishes with ingratitude the idea of Shakespearean genius as being gender-specific, unidentified, and common enough that the possibility exists for at least one female to have exhibited such quirks as should exist for genius to thrive. For, (p. 599), « if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had Shakespeare’s genius…, » she would have no chance for recognition, « … she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning … ». Then, she lists potential for such genius as possibly existing outside of a class of recognition and that surely some of these could have been women (p. 600), « Yet genius of a sort must have existed among women as it must have existed among the working classes. » She continues, « … any woman born with a great gift in the sixteenth century would certainly have gone crazed… For it needs little skill in psychology to be sure that a highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered … that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty. » It is satire, but tired. Clearly not much would have changed since the sixteenth century, except that feminism now flourishes. Meanwhile, if conditions existed or could have existed in Shakespeare’s time for another of Shakespeare’s exception to thrive, it was then unacceptable (possibly unhealthy) to exhibit a drive or ambition outside of position. True enough. She rambles. This is not that day, there is only one Shakespeare, and he had gender. Virginia Woolf can be cynical. Virginia Woolf can be destructive.

I found that I enjoy philosophy (not as much as I enjoy Shakespeare), and it is good to have an opinion.

The third essay by Helene Cisoux is called « The Laugh of the Medusa. » It is written with passion, a passion of responsiblity.

In this essay, she separates the idea of gender and sex; and she further rants since not all are faltering should they be reduced to sex (not gender). She believes the body is being ignored in writing, and in speaking, and that women are not cognizant of their ‘selves’ enough to enable the speech and the literacy of their individual ‘selves’. She prefers to require that sex be a trap, (p. 1647), « … this job of analysis and illumination, this emancipation of the marvelous text of her self that she must urgently learn to speak. »

My concern is not with the feminine, my fear is with the ‘ism’. Is femininity an ‘ism’? Is writing a classification, or is gender an order? Since we’re speaking in the philosophical, scientific, bio-analytical (the anatomy of ability), gender then is responsibility for ownership of self, and writing is activity.

This seems both alarming, and mundane. Alarming in that feminity is questionably non-existent in feminism, as feminism is abrasive. And then to think that writing is mere, merely an act, of no more impetus than brushing one’s hair shatters this reader’s equilibrium.

Cisoux writes feminism (literary civil liberties as denoted by gender) as gender narcissum, (p. 1650/1651), « Women must write through their bodies…, women are body. More body, hence more writing. » She believes women should be present for themselves, and be active in their delivery of the language (verbal or written) which they use to introduce what other’s should see in them. She believes women need a voice, and it needs to be their own.

This is psychology of writers and writing. I wonder what philosophy has been written regarding the psychology of literacy. What do people understand when they read? Why do people understand the way they do?

Poster un commentaire

Classé dans Reading, Writing

The Waves – Virginia Woolf

« … and lie under this thin sheet afloat in the shallow light which is like a film of water drawn over my eyes by a wave. »

Virginia Woolf.

She writes The Waves, as with the last of her books I read, Mrs. Dalloway, similarly indistinct. Mrs. Dalloway written with words that flow, this written with disparate senses that speak her mind, each moving one to the next. She has no division of section, no separation of scene. As with Mrs. Dalloway, there are no chapters, only space.

The Waves has passages, verse written with a beginning. An introduction which tills the senses for a new day. She sets each beginning, each scene, through streams of words, both poetic and ethereal. Starting at the shore… with waves. It seems as if, since there is always some seashore beginning or ending a day, it’s a good place for her thoughts to rest. As if, overtaken by phrases and images, her mind seeks footing.

Her verse is written through individual soliloquy, seems to me to be mono-percepted; she sees only what she, herself, is seeing – her mind possesses her. She writes from ‘within’ her mind – as if to say, « I am not out of it, but completely within it. »

Her six characters are split by gender, male presents as strength, they are more celebrated within this society. Percival, not one of the six, instead is the source of all strength; an enigma, his is the attention they seek. Percival is loved by Neville. She regards the six ‘friends’ thoughtfully. She is both careful to allow herself acceptance of self-comfort and understanding of these platitudes according to perspective, yet harsh in her portrayal of each voice’s existence. These personalities together, she commands.

Neville, the observer, the connector, giving these three boys a place to secure themselves to the strength of Percival. As the boys approach their commencement from education to their adulthoods, Neville then regards Percival, (p. 60), « He will forget me… He will pass from my life. » Then, (p. 152), death is not discerning, since Percival is dead, yet « I watch people pass; holding tight to rails… determined to save their lives. » Neville seems God’s authority to which she watches, yet can’t brazenly dismiss.

The boys, Louis, Bernard, they are image. They seek imagery. Louis despises ‘dabblers’ in imagery. He resents the power of Percival, (p. 57), « yet it is Percival I need, for it is Percival who inspires poetry. » Bernard is the voice of imagery, the storyteller. He is authorship, the author of the body, not the writer of this book.

Susan is fear, she is judgment – she cries, (p. 40) « I do not pray. I revenge myself upon this day. I wreak my spite upon its image. » Of the three girls, she embodies tradition. She exemplifies this life according to female interpretation. As God wishes, this is what He would want.

Jinny is female as a girl would look. She is the essence of female. She is prettiest, popular, colorful … with « my dress billowing around me … » (p. 62, p. 34, p.46). Female is demure, watched. Then, (p. 101), she gets ‘achy’, « … silk is on my knee … my feet feel the pinch of shoes. » Female is hypersenstive, delicate. She is youth, (p.102), « Wine has a drastic, an astringent taste. I cannot help wincing as I drink. » Female is peevish, impulsive. Jinny, the source of all imagination, (p.220), « My imagination is the body. » She is the writer’s portrayal of all that is feminine.

The least of these is Rhoda. Rhoda is vague, she is « not here, » (p. 43), « … I have to look first and do what other people do when they have done it, » she needs to see before she can do. Name-less, face-less, she is watched « from behind bushes. » She feels impercepted, though she is seen since she is observed. She is withdrawn, goes unnoticed, (p. 106), « Hide me, I cry, protect me, for I am the youngest, the most naked of you all. » Rhoda is exposed, susceptible, vulnerable should those upon whom she relies be negligent or inattentive. Rhoda seems the writer’s anxiety.

These six are one body in Christ, one body within the host’s mind’s forever.

Mrs. Woolf seems to find life in this world to be monotonous. Her words repeat, her phrases re-surface, as if washed anew. It’s poetic. The book at times, though, is tiring. An exhaustion of symbolism, her writing has compassion for arrogant perspective. These words, and other of her works, have morbid credibility.

The final passage resounds with reluctance. The end of the book, the last passage, she speaks as all of the book, not as each or any one view. As, (p. 288), « I have been talking of Bernard, Neville, Jinny, Susan, Rhoda, and Louis. Am I all of them? Am I one and distinct? » And, here, (p. 289), she proclaims to be Percival, too, with the feelings He may have felt, « Here on my brow is the blow I got when Percival fell… ». Then she continues with the senses each character by name, may feel or has felt, as she has written each one throughout the book. She doesn’t speak of God, but of church, chapel, priest, (p. 266), « Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends…, » and hers, her view, is to be washed, again, « And in me too the wave rises… « .

She closes with dramatic consequence. These words are final…

The End.

The next Virginia Woolf book I seek will be « Night and Day » …

I read.

Poster un commentaire

Classé dans Books, Reading

Poe’s, « The Tell-Tale Heart »

Short. The shortest story in time.

This few pages of reading, while dark, is less frightening than creepy, and not at all passionate. It isn’t so much scary as it is confession; a confession of mortality.

Poe writes this story, seemingly from the idea of murderous correction as opposed to contempt. As if asking the reader and God to agree with his contempt for life. Crazy, mad, is the accused angry? He claims there is no need for the analysis since murder is not a sin, if that which is dead is dark. Even darker than the idea of death.

He incapsulates his crime within the story. His conscience would never have felt the guilt of loss, but for the possibility of being discovered. The tell-tale heart is so judged to be a life sentence.

Halloween is not happy, and neither is this story. Boo!

What shall I be?

Poster un commentaire

Classé dans Reading

The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie

The first of her books to include the character of Hercule Poirot, this one is written according to a point of view removed from the investigator, and is reminiscent of ‘Dr. Watson’ from the beginning of the work. Poirot’s introduction is delayed slightly, and the first chapter is eerily constructed. She writes detached from this subject, (p. 43), with « … an emotional lack in the atmosphere. » This character, Hastings, is timid in his portrayal of the story. Hercule is no writer, apparently, ‘mon ami’ – his friend, the story’s author, writes an account of this tale at the request of all involved. Mrs. Christie invests these, her primary subjects, with everything they need to know.

Riddles, proverbial twists, macabre wordplay, this book invokes suspicious execution of words. I thus discovered my supposition: The game is a-foot; or, is the dis-membered in contest? Her will is the matter…

Mrs. Christie is the Queen of mental-lists. As such, I offer my kind acknowledgment to ‘bullets’ of insight. All of this mystery’s symbolic participants are present:

  • the embodiment of science (Dr. Bauerstein)
  • the reporter/journalist, keeping the paparazzi at bay (Hastings)
  • the appearance of mortal doom (Nibs), and the weapon of destruction (Cynthia, as dispensary steward)
  • due process, and affability in the face of crises (Poirot)
  • guilt in absentia (the absent widower)
  • accusation/accusal (Dr. Wilkins)
  • all of the herrings in various hues (Chapter 1, the laying out of involvement)
  • the kindred for want of livelihood (Dorcas, and to a lesser degree, Annie)
  • the prospect (Mrs. Cavendish)
  • the absence of family, the heirs apparent (John, and to a lesser extent, Lawrence)
  • the proceeding (Mr. Wells)
  • the love/friendship which has gone unnoticed, in short, the bereavement borne of neglect (Evie Howard)

Mrs. Christie is abundantly equipped to style her writing with grisly detail. In fact, at times she can be morbidly perverse, as on (p.35), in her depiction of the ‘body’s’ tumultuous ending, which leaves me too cold to re-visit this passage.

She teaches with each work. Each book containing elements of concern for life and lives lived. Always she provides a life lesson, she gives an offering of observance to time, she invests a point of view for dealing with some unfortunate incident, and always she gives answers which create the soul’s composure. Fear is not recognized, deference to the departed is an essential quality in her works.

She enlightens readership with context. Pay attention, in this story, everything you need to know is right here in these two characters. Poirot’s method, recognize what’s important; nothing else exists. There is nothing trivial; everything matters, but not everything is important. He is Belgian, he is cordial, he embellishes. Poirot speaks in proverbs, (p. 89), « Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely. » While Hastings, the writer, deals with questions through deduction, (p. 37), « … a flock of wild surmises in my mind. »

Her books captivate playful pretense. She has elements within each she writes. In all there is a lesson; in each there is a day, just one day to divine. And, she is the fair and precious purveyor of loss, that we should accept misfortune is her careful assumption. Style is her gift, it is the reader’s ability.

1 commentaire

Classé dans Books, Reading, Writing

Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

This is an undertaking. A book not for the weak-minded.

Vanity Fair touches on every virtue through the speculative eye of intention. Vanity being the question, and ‘proper’ being the answer, ‘wise’ is never suggested.

I picture the author a keen observer commentator writing feverishly, the words coming all too easily since reading what he’s written is like being pelted with accurately observed innuendo. To read his writing is like arguing your own position on cleverly dispensed vocabulary. He is utter sarcasm in absolute certainty, (p. 227), « upon my word, she’s playing her hand rather too openly, » [she] thought, but this observation is merely parenthetic, and was not heard through the crevice of the door at which the governess uttered it. » He hands out obvious answers, but questions the outcome, (p. 191) « Perhaps in Vanity Fair there are no better satires than letters, » making his case by involving legal expertise of words having been written in the hand of hypocrisy, « … vows, love, promises, confidences, gratitude, how queerly they read after a while. »

He doesn’t seem a writer, he delivers. His breadth overtakes the reader, imposing conflict. The reader is accountable, or the reader is lost. In this book, one is guided. This writer saves the intellectual disciple of his words with the benefit of recognition. He places literary tools, asking readers to choose a path – reading this book, as for myself, is simply comprehending more than you think yourself capable. Imposing is the word that best describes this book. Imposing and long.

One who writes is relieved of burden, a writer writes for relief. This novelist (as Thackeray is willing to admit throughout this work), may simply write because he can. Where a writer writes because he must, Thackeray writes because he should.

This work is a textbook of vagaries, accusing one to learn how to become a man, and convincing the impressionable female to take heed. It suggests that a man will rise to the occasion and aspire to prosper, and a lady shall become him. Thusly he teaches through interpersonal irony. You can be the hero/heroine, the absolved, if you notice the nuance and apply the inference. He infers genteel acquaintances would engender certain confidences which inspired social boundaries. Though we follow Miss Rebecca Sharp’s position with the family Crawley, Chapter XVII beseeches interested girl-hood to acknowledge the original Miss Amelia as interesting, or to ‘set aside’ this heroine. This chapter describes female condescension.

Themes which recur – gambling, war, aristocratic homage, money where money may or may not be (appearances being what they are). The satire is in tribute to aristocracy, or rather to those in compliance with it and those in position to displace it. The men gamble, the women position themselves freely, and sometimes poorly. Military regard is a theme, though war encompasses only three of the sixty-ish chapters in the book. Clearly, this is not a book about war, it’s a book including one. He writes that war is only another milestone, one that is concluded, then set aside and recounted, again and again.

The novelist doth project – he has more ‘serious’ episodes in which his writing is contemplative and a reader will worry as to why he is suddenly grave. Then, he has moments of absolute mirth, where the reader fears for his own sobriety. The writer is fairly giddy with indulgence and attitude.

The last chapters of the book include deadly sins – vanity being just one, surprisingly. Pride as opposed to privilege, indifference, these were noted. Family guidance, honor, disgrace, sanctity, gluttony, frailty (weaknesses of flesh and distress), are all left to question. This world never ventures to engender nobility or acts of profound Christian charity, if those acts are not warranted with expectation. This being the definition of vanity.

Vanity Fair is the stage which exists in guilt, « … where all the Vanity Fair booths were laid out with the most tempting liveliness and splendour… ».

Poster un commentaire

Classé dans Books, Reading, Writing

Balzac’s Omelette, a delicious tour of French food and culture with Honore de Balzac by Anka Muhlstein

I started this book, excitedly, from the idea that it would offer insight into styles of cooking. And, since the subtitle enticed literary purpose, I assumed I would find what I was looking for – an introduction to a culture by way of its food according to its most notable literary artists (at least one of them). Surprisingly, it was less about what we ingest throughout the course of a day in a life, in favor of what one requires of what we ingest. This book speaks to food. It speaks to an economy of virtue, but also to economic strengths of class participation… we consume what we divulge.

Her writing is attractive. She writes, prettily, and seems as a palate cleanser within this work for the ambitious reader. Do you love Proust? She serves Balzac, instead, as the progressive in a world of expressive flamboyance. She stresses the importance of culinary imagery, (p. 3), « If you want to imagine savoring an oyster as it melts on your tongue, read Maupassant; if you dream of jugs filled with yellow cream, try Flaubert; and if the thought of beef in aspic tickles you, turn to Proust. » She then offers Balzac as the escapist, realist with a passion for practicality in a big way, « But, if you are interested not so much in the taste of the oyster as in the way a young man orders it, less the cool sweetness of the cream than how much it costs, and less the melting quality of the aspic than what it reveals about how the household is run, then read Balzac. » And, I am captivated.

A biography of writing, Ms. Muhlstein gives the reader a work which begs assimilation. What if all authors/writers made complete their work through characterizations of cultural familiarity by the humble acknowledgment of idiosyncracies of nutrition? Better yet, what does food offer the plot? What does intensity of one’s appetite or distaste for food offer to civilization? She writes in generalities, but her knowledge requests a feast for the famine of literary conformity.

Her chapters are the work. She writes her vast understanding on cultures of cuisine, Balzac’s Europe, history, from ideas of literary impact; one feels she could use these chapter definitions (titles) to clarify or expound on any topic with profound french consistency. Her style has manner. Her manner is properly and comprehensively compact, as all french should be… exhaustive. (This french word means complete, and nothing more. Whereas, the English, exhaustive, while not only being less interesting in pronunciation, will drown its subject with lavish definition « spent, over, done » and possibly even « thorough, » which hesitates to refine. The idea being, french gives all of something, there’s nothing more, but there may be something less.)

I wondered where the book’s title originated. There is a secret to the omelette, a perfect french method, perhaps, (p. 166), « … an omelette is more delicate when the whites and yolks of the eggs are not beaten together with the brutality that cooks usually put into that operation… the white should be beaten until it resembles foam and the yolk introduced a little at a time, … « . This is the only recipe found in Balzac’s repertoire, apparently. Her thought may be that Balzac’s Omelette inspires gentility. This is a writer’s influence on consumption.

And, it is a reader’s repast.

Poster un commentaire

Classé dans Biographies, Reading, Writing

« Rebecca » by Daphne du Maurier

This is not Rebecca. This book is Mrs. de Winter.

Written with dreary depressive disposition, Daphne du Maurier is the character’s spirit. She is non-existent in these pages, having no person. She is Mrs. de Winter by name. She is not herself, yet is contented in her role as matron of these grounds, (p. 7), « I am a mine of information on the English countryside. » She commits, « I breathe the air of England as I read, and can face this glittering sky with greater courage. » She writes with depth, density of words and rich, fertile qualities, as if the words are loam. The imagination chills…

She is strong in faith, she writes of Christian values being not of moral but familial. We commit, and as women we are there as family decides: marriage, faith, family, in that order. She is the strength of God’s commitment through bonds of sacrament, (p. 9), « I suppose it is his dependence upon me that has made me bold at last… « . She regards frailty of commitment with compassion, (p, 276), « I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth. » Her writing is heartfelt, her attitudes refined.

With every reading of this novel, I feel that Mrs. du Maurier Browning would be one to sit with, she would be a friend. She has much to say, and elegance in her delivery. Not simply its ‘writer,’ she pours her life into her work. Her thoughts are written with philosophical sophistication, « Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind… « , (p. 6). She then continues storyline, plot, and thesis in artful suspense, flawless and faultless in expression. She writes with ease, it reads with fluency. She guides the gentle reader.

It’s no wonder Rebecca is highly acclaimed. This book is rich with earthy mystery, (p. 111), « … and a richer, older scent as well, the smell of deep moss and bitter earth, the stems of bracken, and the twisted roots of trees. » These words are a novel, a mystery, a story, a film, they are easily seen.

Symbolism, she writes in rooted assurance:

  • walls of red rhododendron proclaiming afterlife (they are larger than the lives around them, they die, they are renewed)
  • bowls of autumn roses seek wakeful cognizance (they are ‘as if’ this life was mine)

Her messages are spooky in their obvious conviction. Her writing is not a question of talent. She has that, and her writing is a fact of her life. What else can she do?

This one is not to be shelved. Read it again if it’s escaped you.

Poster un commentaire

Classé dans Books, Reading

Mrs. Dalloway

There are no chapters in this book.

Virginia Woolf writes as if she could stand no interruption until she finished penning the words which had to have a place to fall.

Reading this, the first scenes seem like a dream. As if the author creates the stage through character identification in alternating glances as a waltz through the town, and in which the reader becomes a fly on the wall.

The story then moves to Clarissa Dalloway as the life-force, the living – not asleep, but engaged in the realization of some of her life’s interruptions, speculating upon choices proposed, and decisions she’s made. But, since wishing for better prospects won’t create healthier relationships, she’ll just throw a party and wear her favorite dress. Clarissa Dalloway does not mourne.

The story then flashes back to viewing the world as through a dream, seemingly through the eyes of Virginia, herself. Vague images, as if wandering unobservedly through the township until settling on independent thought through individual character. This particular character, Peter Walsh, Clarissa’s lost love, the other voice of concern and reason, offers insight, as he perceives townspeople, the war, his self-worth by way of class and duty. He begins to imagine his place in this society since returning from the war. He recalls Clarissa’s husband, Richard Dalloway, and Peter bestows confidence, allowing that Richard is a « thorough good sort » (wasted on politics, in Peter’s opinion), and Clarissa is absorbed by her husband’s sense of poetic injustice… Richard believes Shakespeare’s sonnets to be indecent, not worthy of noble discretion since they, in Richard’s opinion, degrade privacy, as if « listening through keyholes » (!)

(Interesting that she weaves attitudes with British class perspectives, makes one wonder what she, herself, thought of Shakespeare.)

Depth of character interest.

This book, Mrs. Dalloway, provides every possibility for a personality to exist.

She writes about suicide, « how does one set about killing oneself » … « uglily, » she decides.

Then, a tirade, she rambles over health and wellness through the vague storyline of Septimus and Lucrezia, with her idea seeming as a Shakespearean respite – the tie to the storyline being a literal bloom, with Lucrezia’s roses as an indication of Clarissa’s talent for decorating the lives she touches. Mrs. Dalloway loves flowers and playing mistress of the house.

« Prophetic Christs and Christesses, » Sir William Bradshaw denounces the weak.

She imagines sanity through the sentiments of Sir William, a notable professor of human nature by way of psychiatric remedy. He promotes well-being as « proportion » and imagines proportion as being a rare combination of « family affection; honour, courage, and a brilliant career. » In the absence of this « divine » proportion, his diagnosis is solitude.

« life with its irreticences… »

She writes with currents of ramifications and lives in these pages. Her storyline washes her point, so that the plot remains in its depths. She describes by aquatic metaphor, her position within this world of high society and observance to class propriety.

Her prose is vaguely reminiscent of insanity. Beautiful, yet disturbingly chaotic, and even more disturbing that it is so easily read and followed by the reader. The story meanders and captivates before capturing credible thought. I found it to be almost frightening in the sense that it feels so much as if you’ve ventured too deeply into a lunatic’s mind.

Reading this book sometimes feels as if you’re watching a train wreck.

That said, it’s a must-read.

Poster un commentaire

Classé dans Books, Reading, Writing