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The book of disquiet

One of the great books of the 20th century by Fernando Pessoa. My desert island choice ( together with Dostojevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov” and Arno Schmidt’s “Bottom’s Dream”.) Upon re-reading I came across this truly cool review, and what an inspiring channel that is.

11 minutes

One of my favorite You Tube channels is “Sommer’s World Literature to go”. Most of these videos were originally presented on a sister channel in German, but now Sommer goes English !! Approximately one work of world literature per month will be posted ! Here is “Crime and Punishment” by Fjodor Dostojevsky. In 11 minutes. […]

Memory

Two radically different approaches when dealing with memory can be found when looking at Marcel Proust and Eugenio Mortale . Whereas in Prousts’ Recherche memory is a highly individual, almost narcisstic process, ( “If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less, but to dream more, to dream all […]

Joris-Karl Huysmans

Reading right now Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans (February 5, 1848 – May 12, 1907) was a French novelist who published his works as Joris-Karl Huysmans; he is most famous for the novel À rebours. His style is remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, wide-ranging vocabulary, wealth of detailed and sensuous description, and biting, satirical […]

The Blind Barber

From the greatest of all “Locked Room” writers and my personal favourite Golden Age crime writer John Dickson Carr the BBC has produced this wonderful radio play, based on “The Blind Barber”. This novel was first published in October 1934, featuring his series detective, the venerable Dr Gideon Fell. It is an old-fashioned and relaxing […]

Eugenio Montale

I was never an avid reader of poems apart from Eichendorff and his evocative romantic images and Hoelderlin, whose lyrical output might well be the pinnacle of German poetry in its transcendental and philosophical implications. Now I was stunned by the discovery of Italian poet Eugenio Mortale. Here is a good resume ( Wikipedia ) […]

1948/49

Still traveling, but I managed to get my paws on another volume of Alice Schmidt’s diaries, this time its the start of her notations from 1948/49 onwards. Of course this is primarily of interest to Arno Schmidt enthusiasts, but these chronicles contain many highly interesting observations in regard to postwar Germany, the poverty and struggle […]

Nachsommer

I have been an ardent reader and admirer of Austrian writer Adalbert Stifter for most of my life. Thomas Mann summarised Stifter’s qualities in one remark: “Behind the quiet, inward exactitude of his descriptions of Nature in particular there is at work a predilection for the excessive, the elemental and the catastrophic, the pathological.” And […]

Art, Fiction, & History

Fascinating discussion about W G Sebald, one of my favourite German authors in the 20th century, whom I had the privilege to exchange some letters with shortly before his untimely death. Sebald considered himself a sort of ‘exiled’ writer, but more in the context of “The Emigrants”, the title of one of his books, as […]