Tag: Books: Translated Texts

Review: The Prisoner of Heaven

Posted 17 July, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 1 Comment

The Prisoner of Heaven
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Barcelona,1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past. His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940’s and the dark early days of Franco’s dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a journey fraught with jealousy, suspicion, vengeance, and lies, a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love and ultimately transform their lives.

And here we are, the new book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. As some of you may know, I had re-read The Angel’s Game (review) and The Shadow of the Wind (review) last week in preparation for reading this book. It’s part of a cycle that Zafon has written concerning the Cemetery of Forgotten Books so I wanted to rehash my memory of all of the characters connected to the cemetery before proceeding with the latest novel. Contains some spoilers ahead!

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Commentary: The Shadow of the Wind

Posted 15 July, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 3 Comments

The Shadow of the Wind
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Barcelona, 1945–Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes one day to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a book from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the book he selects, a novel called The Shadow of the Wind by one Julián Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Before Daniel knows it, his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness, and doomed love, and before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julián Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that this was one of those books that I never got around to writing a review for but I wished I did, if only to keep track of what my initial thoughts of the book were. I decided to re-read it as a refresher before I venture on to reading The Prisoner of Heaven and just like the first time, I could not put this book down =P Contains spoilers ahead!

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Review: The Kalevala

Posted 13 July, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Kalevala

The Kalevala is the great Finnish epic, which like The Iliad and The Odyssey, grew out of a rich oral tradition with prehistoric roots. During the first millennium of our era, speakers of Uralic languages (those outside the Indo-European group) who had settled in the Baltic region of Karelia, that straddles the border of eastern Finland and north-west Russia, developed an oral poetry that was to last into the nineteenth century. This poetry provided the basis of the Kalevala. It was assembled in the 1840s by the Finnish scholar Elias Lonnrot, who took ‘dictation’ from the performance of a folk singer, in much the same way as our great collections from the past, from Homeric poems to medieval songs and epics, have probably been set down. Published in 1849, it played a central role in the march towards Finnish independence and inspired some of Sibelius’s greatest works.

I’ve mentioned this story a few times now but I had been reading The Kalevala since about the start of the new year. I started reading it on my Kobo but realised halfway through that the stories weren’t exactly sinking in; the translation that I had was a little heavy and there’s just something awkward about reading folk/epic poetry on a e-Reader (yeah, still getting used to that). So I ended up buying a physical copy of The Kalevala and starting again from the beginning. I will say that the Oxford Classics edition is fantastic in its translation (not sure about the accuracy though), it’s much more accessible than the free ebook version.

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Commentary: The Angel’s Game

Posted 11 July, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Angel’s Game
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city’s underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.

Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed-a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

I’ve actually reviewed this novel a few years ago when I first read it (review) but with the release of The Prisoner of Heaven i decided it was time to re-read the book (plus it was an overall excuse to get around to re-reading the books, lol). Contains some spoilers ahead!

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Review: The Phantom of the Opera

Posted 7 July, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Phantom of the Opera
By: Gaston Leroux

First published in French as a serial in 1909, “The Phantom of the Opera” is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine’s childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous ‘ghost’ of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster. Leroux’s work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik’s past, has been immortalized by memorable adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, deeper and darker than any version that follows.

The Phantom of the Opera is one of those books that I’ve always heard of but I’m not entirely sure why I never bothered to pick up until now. I’ve never seen the stage adaptation (though it was played here a long time ago) and I haven’t watched the movie adaptation that came out a few years ago so I was approaching this novel with no knowledge about the story at all.

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