Here we go, another set of mini-reviews that couldn’t possibly fit in review posts of their own xD A bit of a theme, this edition of my mini-reviews, as the books I review are mainly classics that I read in the last few months, and short ones at that 😉 Included in this batch of reviews are:
Without further ado…
By: Heinrich von Kleist
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy
One of the few novellas written by the master German playwright, The Duel was considered by Thomas Mann and others to be one of the great works of German literature. The story of a virtuous woman slandered by a nobleman, it is a precise study of a subject that fascinated von Kleist: That people are sometimes seemingly punished for their very innocence.
I had been meaning to read more classic German literature so I was delighted to see this listed with Melville House’s The Art of the Novella series. The Duel was an interesting read, very accessible and easy to just slip into the story and the lives of these characters. It’s a fascinating look at honour, chivalry, and women’s role during the medieval period, as well as the role of the duel and the deadly consequences that result from it, both from the act itself and the implications afterwards. It’s also a fascinating study of one’s word, innocence and truthfulness and how these things were weighed during such a period. The writing was quite lovely as well, I highly recommend this title from The Art of the Novella series 🙂
By: Henry James
Catherine Sloper lives in Washington Square with her widowed father, a wealthy physician. She is plain, shy, and lacks social graces and conversation. Dr. Sloper cannot conceal his disappointment that she has nothing of her dead mother’s beauty and wit. So when the handsome but penniless Morris Townsend begins to court Catherine, Dr. Sloper suspects him of being a fortune-hunter. While Catherine’s romantic hopes are encouraged and abetted by her aunt, Lavinia Penniman, her father threatens to disinherit her if she marries Morris. Ultimately, however, it is up to Catherine to find out Morris’s true intentions.
I realised I haven’t read as much from the classics this year as I would have liked. I admit, I decided to read this book because it was on the shorter side; I had read his other titles like Daisy Miller (review) and What Maisie Knew (review) which were short but quick-paced. Warning!: I have a lot of feels about this book…
What Maisie Knew
By: Henry James
Format: eBook; my copy
After her parents’ bitter divorce, young Maisie Farange finds herself shuttled between her selfish mother and vain father, who value her only as a means for provoking each other. Maisie—solitary, observant, and wise beyond her years—is drawn into an increasingly entangled adult world of intrigue and sexual betrayal until she is finally compelled to choose her own future. Published in 1897 as Henry James was experimenting with narrative technique and fascinated by the idea of the child’s-eye view, What Maisie Knew is a subtle yet devastating portrayal of an innocent adrift in a corrupt society.
This is the third novel I’ve read by Henry James (also read The Turn of the Shrew and Daisy Miller (review) earlier this year). I was curious about this novel because of the adaptation coming out starring Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgård. May contain some minor spoilers ahead!
By: Henry James
Traveling in Europe with her family, Daisy Miller, an exquisitely beautiful young American woman, presents her fellow-countryman Winterbourne with a dilemma he cannot resolve. Is she deliberately flouting social conventions in the way she talks and acts, or is she simply ignorant of them? When she strikes up an intimate friendship with an urbane young Italian, her flat refusal to observe the codes of respectable behavior leaves her perilously exposed.
I think I added this to my to-read list a year ago because it was partly set in Italy and I was looking for classics set there. It’s a rather short read and I was debating what to read next so I decided to read this in the meantime. Contains some spoilers ahead!