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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:58 pm
Posts: 29336
Location: Where the dead rule the night
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 3:08 pm 
 

Spent the morning reading Cynan Jones "The Dig" over breakfast then at the beach. This is going to be one of those books that makes me envious of somebody else's writing skills. Dude can make scenes of a guy just farming and taking care of chores seem literary and profound. That's how you know you found an intriguing read.
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Methuen
Metalhead

Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 4:55 pm
Posts: 1674
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 10:37 am 
 

Recently read -

Amor Towles - A Gentleman in Moscow (2016)
This is an excellent novel - a fictional character study & drama that starts in newly Bolshevik Moscow. A minor nobleman, living in an hotel, is the author's avatar living through the takeover of Russia by the Bolsheviks. It's lighthearted in places, laugh-out-loud funny at times, romantic in others, sharply observant and critical in others. It's one of those novels where 'nothing happens' - lots of narrative, conversations, small interactions that really show the author's research into the minutiae of all sorts of lives and how they where changed by the revolution. Politics, while omnipresent as a theme, aren't the point of the novel - there are no polemics or story-stopping harangues as with much other modern fiction - it's a human interest story, and told very, very well.


Joseph Roth - The Emperor's Tomb (1938)

Roth to me is a kind of Tolstoy analogue; this novel has more than a whiff of Evelyn Waugh's later work too. The second half of the Trotta family's lives in Austria-Hungary, this one covers the tipping point of that imperial history (and the family history) via the First World War, the deprivations that follow, and the seediness of 20th century political extremists; communists and national socialists are looked down on quite equally. The book is a pretty unsubtle meditation on the last days of Austria-Hungry; Roth had seen his country from it's last Habsburg peak to it's lowest ebb, and his characters live that decline. Roth died in Paris shortly after this book was published, not long prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. Reading 'Radetzky March' first helps with some of the context and background winks in this book, but it's not necessary.

Currently reading -

Philip Hughes: The Church in Crisis (1961)
A pre-Vatican II summary of the major ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church, from Nicea in AD 325, to Vatican I in 1869. Fascinating both for the older style of language (a pleasure to read vs. many modern historians), and for the story itself - at Nicea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, a Roman emperor presides over the early theological questions. We see the shift from East to West; we see the barbarian invasions, the fall of Rome, the long Islamic conquest of Byzantium, and the 19 century-long stalagmite of doctrine built up from the earliest doctrinal heresies to the problems of German nationalism.
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PETERG
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2015 1:48 pm
Posts: 156
Location: Greece
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:17 pm 
 

Coastliner wrote:
PETERG wrote:
[...] The never-ending story by Michael Ende [...] The book was written in the 1950s and both Ende and Tolkien seem to have influenced each other.


That's impossible. "The Never-Ending Story" was written between 1977 and 1979 (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_unendliche_Geschichte) and was first published in 1979
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Neverending_Story), six years after Tolkien's death. "The Lord of the Rings" was written between 1937 and the late 40s and was first published in three volumes in 1954 and 1955 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings).

Both great in their respective ways and recommended. Although it's doubtful that Tolkien would have liked Ende. He wasn't keen on 20th century literature in general. One of the few contemporary novels he accepted was David Lindsay's science fiction classic "Voyage to Arcturus" (1920) (cf. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Letter # 26) but, on the whole, he was more into age-old stuff with cobwebs and a beard :old: .



Wow I have made a fool of myself. I never bothered to look the actual release of the book and my teacher told me that the date was around the '50s. Sorry for that.
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Coastliner
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2021 7:49 am
Posts: 31
Location: beyond the blue on some ancient, tattered Fates Warning cover
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:14 pm 
 

PETERG wrote:
Wow I have made a fool of myself. I never bothered to look the actual release of the book and my teacher told me that the date was around the '50s. Sorry for that.


No problem! I think at some point I, too, had the impression it was from the 50s. Don't know why... I read it in the early 80s (when the movie was made), and the only fantasy novels I knew at that time were The Neverending Story and... The Lord of the Rings. I probably confused one with the other. :scratch:

Inspired by this thread, I dusted it off yesterday. Don't know if I'll make it through the whole book but there seem to be some interesting occult concepts that I missed the first time round, e.g. 'Ygramul, the Many.' Not exactly typical children's stuff...

@ Topic:

Now reading:

- Stephen King / Peter Straub: The Talisman: When I first read it in the 80s, I was fascinated by the mashup of the two worlds, and the same fascination returned after only a couple of pages. A real page-turner.

- Alfred Döblin: Berge Meere und Giganten (Mountains Seas and Giants): Experimental dystopian novel from 1924. Ghastly. Hideous. I've never read anything by Döblin that I liked. The problem is: It seems to be one of those novels that you shouldn't judge before you've read all of it but I'm not sure whether I can stomach another couple of hundred pages of condescending language and racist stereotypes...
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PETERG
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2015 1:48 pm
Posts: 156
Location: Greece
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 11:17 am 
 

Coastliner wrote:
e.g. 'Ygramul, the Many.' Not exactly typical children's stuff...


My God was I terrified when I first read this... :ugh: :ugh:
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