Stikkordarkiv: classics

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

We had a shorter than normal gap between two reading circle meetings before Christmas, and so we opted for reading some Christmas stories rather than a novel. The longest was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, my suggestion. The story, of course, is well known to us all, I don’t know how many versions of it I’ve read or seen on screen, however, I have never actually read the original story.

I’m not a Dickens fan. I’ve never managed to finish any of the novels, or even get very far into them (I’ve read around half of Oliver Twist, other than that my record is probably twenty or so pages). I think my main problem is that he was paid per inch, so there is too much filler. Emminently written and beautifully described filler, but filler none the less. When he spends two pages describing a fairly minor character who comes into a room I lose interest, I’m afraid.

But A Christmas Carol is something else. It gives no impression of uneccessary verbosity, and in consequence it is quite beautiful.

“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!” He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again. “Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure?” “I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.” “Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.” Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”

Bah, humbug, indeed.

Somewhat unfairly, the story suffers slightly from having become a cliché, though since most versions take liberties, there is something to be said for giving the original its due attention. And language-wise it can’t be bettered.

Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin

Phew. Done. Now, perhaps I can stop humming that bl**dy song every waking hour.

Well.

Go Tell it on the Mountain was picked as this month’s read for our bookclub by the simple expedient of pointing randomly into the shelves at Krambua* which are furnished with second-hand books. Not a bad result, really, it could probably have been much, much worse (I wasn’t at that meeting, so I don’t know what else is on those shelves, but I’ll check next time).

It’s James Baldwin’s first novel, and a good read. The quotes on my copy says he knows the Harlem language, which I have no reason to doubt. It’s almost always easier to point out what I don’t like about a book than what I do, so excuse me if this is a bit lopsided, but here goes: For one thing, I had a hard time keeping apart the events happening in Harlem and the events happening in «the south». The first setting is immensly urban, the second, as far as I can tell, is supposed to be rural. The pictures in my head, though, were mostly a sort of mix-up with a bit of spagetti western clap-board towns thrown in for good measure. The latter I take full responsibility for, but I feel Baldwin has to shoulder some of the blame for not making the settings distinct enough. Though it could be argued that he was doing it on purpose to show that nothing really changes and you can take the boy out of x, but never the x out of the boy or something. That would not sit well with the blurb on my copy claiming Baldwin deals with the old generation versus the new generation and the change in values, however Balwin can’t be blamed for the blurb, and I think the blurb-writer was a bit off in any case, it seems to me the old generation and the new have a lot in common and it’s down to individuals to make change. So there is that. The second quarrel I had is that I felt the novel ended somewhat prematurely. Perhaps I just didn’t understand it, but, well, I sort of wanted a bit MORE to happen. Like some of this change, which is in the air the whole way through, but which doesn’t really materialise.

Still and all, I gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads.

And I’m ticking off all sorts of things: A new to me author makes it the first book in my Boktolva, and surely, surely it can be called a classic? Well, it’s a 1001 book, so I call it a classic. And I guess I’m a bit early for black history month, but it seems a fitting read to celebrate the second inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama (who I have great hopes for now that he doesn’t need to worry about reelection).

100 klassikere

Lyran utfordrer oss til å lese klassikere fram mot april, og jeg har noen på hyllen jeg skulle ha vært gjennom, så jeg slenger meg med, forsøksvis. I den anledning må jeg selvsagt også gå gjennom listen hennes med 100 klassikere, og se hvor mange av nettopp de jeg har vært gjennom…

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* efter boken betyder att du aldrig hört talas om boken/författaren
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1. Chinua Achebe: Allt går sönder
2. Carl Jonas Love Almqvist: Drottningens juvelsmycke *
3. Isabel Allende: Andarnas hus
4. Martin Andersen Nexö: Ditte människobarn
5. Stina Aronson: Hitom himlen *
6. Jane Austen: Stolthet och fördom +
7. Honoré de Balzac: Pappa Goriot x
8. Charles Baudelaire: Ondskans blommor +
9. Samuel Beckett: I väntan på Godot +
10. Harriet Beecher Stowe: Onkel Toms stuga
11. Victoria Benedictsson: Fru Marianne *
12. Frans G. Bengtsson: Röde Orm *
13. Hjalmar Bergman: Markurells i Wadköping *
14. Giovanni Boccaccio: Decamerone +
15. Karin Boye: Kallocain
16. Bertholt Brecht: Mor Courage och hennes barn
17. Fredrika Bremer: Hertha *
18. Anne Brontë: Agnes Grey +
19. Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre +
20. Emily Brontë: Svindlande höjder +
21. Mikhail Bulgakov: Mästaren och Margarita
22. Italo Calvino: Om en vinternatt en resande
23. Albert Camus: Främlingen
24. Cao Xueqin: Drömmar om röda gemak
25. Cervantes: Don Quijote
26. Joseph Conrad: Mörkrets hjärta +
27. Dante Alighieri: Den gudomliga komedin +
28. Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe +
29. Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist x
30. Fjodor Dostojevskij: Brott och straff
31. Alexandre Dumas d ä: De tre musketörerna
32. Marguerite Duras: Älskaren
33. T S Eliot: Det öde landet
34. Euripides: Medea
35. William Faulkner: Absalom, Absalom
36. F Scott Fitzgerald: Den store Gatsby
37. Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary
38. Flygare-Carlén, Emilie: Rosen på Tistelön *
39. Per Anders Fogelström: Stockholms-serien
40. Gabriel García Márquez: Hundra år av ensamhet
41. André Gide: Den omoraliske
42. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Den unge Werthers lidanden +
43. Maksim Gorkij: Min barndom
44. Graham Greene: Brighton Rock
45. Knut Hamsun: Markens gröda
46. Jaroslav Hasek: Den tappre soldaten Svejk
47. Joseph Heller: Moment 22 x
48. Ernest Hemingway: Den gamle och havet
49. Hermann Hesse: Stäppvargen
50. Homeros: Odysséen
51. Henrik Ibsen: Et dukkehjem
52. Eyvind Johnson: Strändernas svall *
53. James Joyce: Ulysses
54. Franz Kafka: Processen
55. Yasar Kemal: Låt tistlarna brinna! +
56. Kleve, Stella (Malling, Mathilda): Bertha Funke
57. Pär Lagerkvist: Barabbas
58. Selma Lagerlöf: Kejsarn av Portugallien +
59. Lidman, Sara: Lifsens rot
60. Väinö Linna: Okänd soldat
61. Ivar Lo-Johansson: Kungsgatan
62. Thomas Mann: Huset Buddenbrook
63. Harry Martinson: Nässlorna blomma
64. Moa Martinson: Kvinnor och äppelträd
65. Vilhelm Moberg: Utvandrar-serien
66. Molière: Tartuffe
67. Elsa Morante: Historien
68. Morrison, Toni: Älskade
69. Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita
70. George Orwell: 1984 x
71. Boris Pasternak: Doktor Zjivago
72. Francesco Petrarca: Kärleksdikter
73. Marcel Proust: På spaning efter den tid som flytt (Combray)
74. Erich Maria Remarque: På Västfronten intet nytt
75. J. D. Salinger: Räddaren i nöden
76. Cora Sandel: Alberte-serien
77. Sapfo: Dikter och fragment
78. William Shakespeare: Macbeth
79. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
80. Sofokles: Konung Oidipus
81. Solzjenitsyn: En dag i Ivan Denisovitjs liv
82. John Steinbeck: Vredens druvor x
83. Stendhal: Rött och svart
84. Bram Stoker: Dracula
85. Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr Jekyll och Mr Hyde
86. August Strindberg: Röda rummet +
87. Snorre Sturlasson (?): Egil Skallagrimssons saga +
88. Jonathan Swift: Gullivers resor
89. Hjalmar Söderberg: Den allvarsamma leken
90. Anton Tjechov: Damen med hunden
91. Lev Tolstoj: Anna Karenina
92. Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn +
93. Sigrid Undset: Kristin Lavransdotter
94. Jules Verne: Jorden runt på 80 dagar
95. Voltaire: Candide
96. Oscar Wilde: Dorian Grays porträtt +
97. Woolf, Virginia: Mot fyren +
98. Wägner, Elin: Pennskaftet *
99. William Butler Yeats: Tornet
100. Émile Zola: Thérèse Raquin

30 bøker og 42 forfattere. Ikke ille, men det kan jo bli bedre.

In a Glass Darkly – Sheridan Le Fanu

In a Glass Darkly is on the 1001 books list, so I joined a bookring, and finally got around to reading it (sorry for hogging it so long, guys). Uhm. Yes. I suppose it helps if you like ghost stories. I don’t, and this really didn’t do it for me, and I ended up skimming about half before giving up completely. Besides not being a genre I enjoy at the best of times, I found the stories I did read somewhat lacking, leaving the reader too much in the dark (no pun intended). That a lot of the plot twists seem like cliches is hardly Le Fanu’s fault, however.

Still: Not my cup of tea (green or otherwise…)

Tortilla Flat

We somehow started talking about Steinbeck on Saturday, and I promptly picked a few of his novels down from the shelf in order to remember to read them. I started this week with Tortilla Flat – the others may have to wait since I have a few bookring books to get through.

Tortilla Flat is about the Paisanos of California. More specifically it is about Danny, who, on coming home from the war suddenly finds himself the owner of two houses. Having been a slacker all his life he feels the burden of property keenly, but giving shelter to his band of friends, Pilon, Jesus Marie, Big Joe Portagee, Pablo and the Pirate, helps to (mostly) dispel the gloom. The friends only work when there is a specific need for it, most of the time they survive by stealing or begging for scraps. When they can get hold of wine they get gloriously drunk and most of their days are spent lazing around on the porch in the sun. They are a likable bunch, despite their tendency to regard other people’s property as fair game, and I have a feeling they’ll stay with me.