Saturday, December 31, 2016
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Barney, Grove Press and America's Maverick Publisher and the Battle Against Censorship by Michael Rosenthal (2016)
Friday, December 23, 2016
The Romanovs by Simon Sebastian Montefiore is an entertaining account of Russian dynastic history of the Romanovs from 1613 to 1918 when they were overthrown through the Russian Revolution. Monteforie has written a kind of National Enquirer scandal driven top down history of Russia. It is a story soaked in blood and semen. Nearly all the rulers were paranoid murderers given to sexual excesses of various sorts. One of the biggest problems in imperial dynasties was succession, this
was magnified in a family in which generations of marrying in a small pool had produced many men unfit to rule. Several rulers took the throne as young boys, a large number of the emperors were killed to remove them. Montfiore goes into great detail on the sex lives of the monarchs, women as well as men.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Two Works on the Russian Revolution
The Romanov Sisters (2014) tells the story of what should have been a very nice family of country gentry, the father doting on his four daughters, his son and his wife with little interest in the greater world. Instead the father was the autocratic ruler of a huge country, which he had no capacity to rule.His son and heir was a hemophiliac. They fell under the spell of a sinister faith healer. The daughters were kept as immature as possible, having no conception of real life. As they aged they had fantasy romances with Army officers, they would all have been prime prizes in the European Royalty Marriage Market had they lived to maturity. Rappaport, using letters, diaries and other newly found materials does a good job of individualizing each girl. We know their daily routines,surrounded by servants and tutors. We are there when the three older girls train as nurses during WWI. The children die to young to have developed independent personalities.We are there when they are held captive and eventually executed. Other than who they were, they are not of much intrinsic interest. The book is also the story of their parents marriage, told in numerous books. This is a very detailed portrait of the last Imperial family.
On July 16, 1918 the family was executed.
I enjoyed this book, at time the story of the girls was a bit less than gripping but I am glad I read The Romanov Sisters. It was on The New York Times best seller list for 12 weeks.
Caught in the Revolution Petrograd Russia 1917 A World on Edge (forthcoming Feb 2017) focuses on people from other countries who were in Petrograd in February and March 2017. This includes members of the diplomatic corp, business men, nurses, nannies, journalists, tourists and even Somerset Maugham. Much of the concern of the diplomats was on getting food and staying save. Their were no direct attacks on embassies but life was a challenge. The diplomats were not in sympathy with the revolution.
The one line in the work that most intrigued me was when Rappaport spoke of the 1000s of French and English nannies put out of work by the revolution. Many had lost all ties with home and there is a book waiting to be written about what happened to them.
Rappaport's books are popular history, easy to read. She focuses on the rich and powerful, maybe too much.
I endorse these books for those into the era, as I am.
The author's very well done webpage has a detailed bio and information about her other books.
I received review copies of both of these books.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Sixteenth century Venice has a special place in the heart of numerous classic authors, from Stendhal and Balzac to Mann. Anna Karenina and her lover escaped the frowns of society there.
Friday, December 9, 2016
The Pen and the Brush How the Passion for Art Shaped Nineteenth Century French Novels by Anka Muhlstein (2016)
Friday, December 2, 2016
"Delilah" By Hitomi Kanehara (2011, included in Digital Geishas and Talking Frogs, Best Japanese Short Stories of the 21th Century )
My main purpose here is to let those interested in Japanese literature know about the collection below. (your first venture in this genre should be The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories).
Hitomi Kanehara was born in Tokyo in 1983. She dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to pursue her passion for writing, with the support of her father, Mizuhito Kanehara, a literary professor and translator of children’s literature. She wrote her first novel Hebi ni Piasu (‘Snakes and Earrings’) at the age of 21. The novel won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize and the Subaru Literary Prize. Her other works include Autofiction (Shueisha Publishing Co., 2006), and Hydra (Shincho Publishing Co., 2007).
from Comma Press
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Blog Stats for November, 2016
- U S A
- The Philippines
- The Netherlands
Literary Biographies on The Reading Life
In November Mel posted on two very recent literary biographies.
- Beryl Bainbridge A Biography Love By All Sorts of Means by Brendan King(2016)
- The Nėmirovsky Question The Life, Death and Legacy of a Jewish Woman in 20th Century France by Susan Rubin Suleiman, forthcoming 2017
Future Reading Plans
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
Beryl Bainbridge A Biography Love By All Sorts of Means by Brendan King is s not just a very good biography, it is a first rate social history and a brilliant account of a woman's struggling to make a living through her writings. Bainbridge had her demons and King kelps us understand them. He takes us through her most important relationships, her trials as a mother and a wife. Bainbridge was also a painter it was a great pleasure to learn of this.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The Nėmirovsky Question The Lfe, Death and Legacy of a Jewish Woman in 20th Century France by Susan Rubin Suleiman, forthcoming 2017
Suleiman was born in Budapest and came to the U.S. with her parents as a child. She is the C. Douglas Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France and professor of comparative literature at Harvard, where she has chaired the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures and the Department of Comparative Literature. She is currently Acting Chair of Romance Languages and Literatures. Her books include Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre (1983), Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the Avant-Garde (1990), Risking Who One Is: Encounters with Contemporary Art and Literature (1994), the memoir Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook (1996), and Crises of Memory and the Second World War (2006). She has edited and co-edited several volumes, including Exile and Creativity (1998), Contemporary Jewish Writing in Hungary (2003), and most recently French Global: A New Approach to Literary History (with C. McDonald), 2010. Suleiman has won many honors, including the Radcliffe Medal for Distinguished Achievement (1990), and a decoration by the French Government as Officer of the Order of Academic Palms (Palmes Académiques) in 1992. She has held a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship, and been an invited Fellow at the Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study in Budapest and at the Center for Advanced Study of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo. In 2005-06 she was a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute. During the 2009-2010 academic year, she was the invited Shapiro Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Academic Degrees: Ph.D., A.M., Harvard University; A.B., Barnard College
Research Interests: 20th-Century French Literature and Culture; Avant-Garde Movements and Theories of the Avant-Garde; Feminist Theory; Problems of Narrative; Writers and Politics; Trauma and Memory; Holocaust Literature and Film. From Harvard.edu
I was kindly given a review copy of this book by Yale University Press.