Tag: Books: Classics

Review: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted 17 October, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
By: Rainer Maria Rilke
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

‘There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several.’

While his old furniture rots in storage, Malte Laurids Brigge lives in a cheap room in Paris, with little but a library reader’s card to distinguish him from the city’s untouchables. Every person he sees seems to carry their death with them, and he thinks of the deaths, and ghosts, of his aristocratic family, of which only he remains. The only novel by one of the greatest writers of poetry in German, the semi-autobiographical Notebooks is an uneasy, compelling and poetic book that anticipated Sartre and is full of passages of lyrical brilliance.

I picked this book up on a whim when Pocket Penguins were introduced earlier this year. Firstly, I love how stunning this new series is; the covers are simple, similar to the Little Black Classics, but they are colour-coded depending on which country they’re from (in this case, olive green for German literature). Aside from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, I actually haven’t read any of Rilke’s poetry or works so I thought this would be a good introduction to his writings.

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 11 October, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Probably the last batch of mini book reviews for this year? I read most of the following books months ago, but anyway…Included in this batch are:

Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti #1)
By: Donna Leon
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

There is little violent crime in Venice, a serenely beautiful floating city of mystery and magic, history and decay. But the evil that does occasionally rear its head is the jurisdiction of Guido Brunetti, the suave, urbane vice-commissario of police and a genius at detection. Now all of his admirable abilities must come into play in the deadly affair of Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor who died painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice.

But as the investigation unfolds, a chilling picture slowly begins to take shape–a detailed portrait of revenge painted with vivid strokes of hatred and shocking depravity. And the dilemma for Guido Brunetti will not be finding a murder suspect, but rather narrowing the choices down to one. . .

I had been eyeing this series for such a long time, it always crops up whenever I’m looking up crime mystery series to check out. Well I finally picked it up as a book to read whenever I was on break at work and it certainly didn’t disappoint: Guido Brunetti is an interesting character, smart and good at what he does. A different side to Venice comes to life in this novel as Brunetti investigates the death of a well-known conductor, plunging the commissario into the world of music and art and the shadows of the Second World War. It was interesting to follow Brunetti in the case as he navigates through an intricate cast of characters from Wellauer’s life and work, figuring out who had the motive to kill the maestro. I don’t know if I’ll get around to read the rest of the books in this series (as it’s a bit of a long one), but this book was an excellent introduction to Guido Brunetti, his life, his Venice, and his mode of case-solving. Definitely worth checking out if you’re into this the crime mystery genre and you like your mysteries set in Italy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Top Ten Tuesdays

Posted 13 September, 2016 by Lianne in Meme / 14 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week’s topic: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre

Horrible topic! j/k, but how am I suppose to narrow it down to 10, lol? And there’s the matter of genre…have I done classic literature for a list like this? If not, yes, let’s go with that 😛 Note that I’m not including plays (sorry Shakespeare (see author tag)) and poetry (sorry, The Kalevala (review) & Dante’s Inferno) here, just straight-up literary prose.

In no particular order:

  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen (review) — Surprised, anyone? I think my review/commentary says it all 😉
  2. North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell (review) — Again, surprised? Thank you, BBC adaptation for introducing me to this wonderful classic *hearts and stars*
  3. The Longest Journey by E.M. Forster (review) — I also love A Room With a View (review) but this underrated E.M. Forster gets the favourite spot because of some of the themes it tackles. Highly recommended if you haven’t read it/come across it before!
  4. Fathers & Sons by Ivan Turgenev (review) — I was introduced to this classic in my undergraduate studies and it remains to date my favourite Ivan Turgenev novel and my favourite Russian classic. Turgenev does a wonderful job in portraying the ideas that were circulating during the time amongst the intelligentsia whilst weaving quite a story.
  5. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (review) — One of my earliest Dickens novels read, it remains one of my favourites with the themes it tackles, the story it tells, and of course introducing me to one of my favourite characters, Eugene Wrayburn 😉
  6. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (review) — I’ve read a number of her books to date and enjoyed almost all of them but this remains my favourite. It’s quite the tragedy (most of it self-inflicted) but very compelling IMO.
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (review) — Tolstoy is quite the master of telling a sweeping tale, but what I love about this book is how he balances that panoramic view of Russian society with the internal character drama. Stunning stuff.
  8. Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov (review) — Gah, I love this underrated Russian classic. The premise was hilarious–the guy spent half the novel in bed with people coming in and out and not leaving him alone–but in true Russian fashion the story takes a quick turn to the tragic with a lot of interesting themes to boot.
  9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (review) — What else is there to say about Jane Eyre? The characters, the story, the writing…
  10. The Notebooks of Malte Laurid Briggs by Maria Rainer Rilke — A recent read that quickly became a favourite for me with Rilke’s lyricism. There’s no plot per se but his presentation of the human condition and human experiences through the character of Malte Laurid Briggs had me glued from start to finish.

And that’s my list for this week! What are some of your favourite classic titles? What genre did you choose for this week’s TTT? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 22 August, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Another batch of mini-reviews! 🙂

Some of the Best from Tor.com 2015: A Tor.com Original
Format/Source: eBook courtesy of Tor.com

A collection of some of the best original short fiction published on Tor.com in 2015. Includes stories by Nino Cipri, Seth Dickinson, Jeffrey Ford, Yoon Ha Lee, Maria Dahvana Headley, David Herter, Kameron Hurley, Noah Keller, David D. Levine, Michael Livingston, Usman T. Malik, Haralambi Markov, Daniel José Older, Malka Older, Kim Stanley Robinson, Kelley Robson, Veronica Schanoes, Priya Sharma, Brian Staveley, Sabrina Vourvoulias, and Ray Wood.

I don’t always make any blog reviews about fantasy anthologies such as this as usually my reviews run the same responses, but I felt the need to review this compilation as I thought it was a pretty solid one for the most part. Of course there were a few that I liked more than others, hits and misses so to speak, but the range of stories that Tor.com featured this past year was an interesting one. Lots of familiar names, but also lots of names that I’m not familiar with. Kameron Hurley’s “Elephants and Corpses” was definitely a standout (which left me more excited to get around to reading The Mirror Empire), Usman T. Malik’s “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” was absolutely absorbing and well-rounded a novella, and Seth Dickinson’s “Please Undo This Hurt” was quite thought-provoking. That’s of course from the stories that did standout in my mind after all this time (as I am typing this review some time after having finished reading this cllection) but nonetheless I think this is definitely a collection worth checking out.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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Review: Beowulf

Posted 15 August, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

By: J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (editor)
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase

The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book.

From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel’s terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.

But the commentary in this book includes also much from those lectures in which, while always anchored in the text, he expressed his wider perceptions. He looks closely at the dragon that would slay Beowulf “snuffling in baffled rage and injured greed when he discovers the theft of the cup”; but he rebuts the notion that this is “a mere treasure story”, “just another dragon tale”. He turns to the lines that tell of the burying of the golden things long ago, and observes that it is “the feeling for the treasure itself, this sad history” that raises it to another level. “The whole thing is sombre, tragic, sinister, curiously real. The ‘treasure’ is not just some lucky wealth that will enable the finder to have a good time, or marry the princess. It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.”

Sellic spell, a “marvellous tale”, is a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folk-tale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the “historical legends” of the Northern kingdoms.

I picked up this book and read it when it was first released back in 2014 but I never got around to reviewing it here. That was because I didn’t have much to say about it at the time–didn’t honestly know what to think of it, I had read The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun (review) and knew there would be added content in this book but I didn’t expect Tolkien’s actual piece to be so short. Since then I did get around to reading the stardard edition that’s available (re-read it again earlier this year (review) so now that I have a sense of how the story went down, I decided to revisit Tolkien’s rendition of the tale again.

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