Moby Dick; or, the Whale is a modern epic. The novel was published in 1851. October in Britain, and then November in America. Ten years prior to this Herman Melville, the author, had begun four years of sailing on whaling vessels. The size, and subject scope, of the novel reflects the author’s own experiences at sea. It is hard to imagine the dedication and commitment which sailing and whaling demands. Melville’s, or ‘Ishmael’s‘, lengthy digressions and in-depth studies give the reader some idea of the all-encompassing nature of whaling though.
Who is Bob Dylan?
A twentieth century legend, a giant of contemporary American music (and letters), with an unmistakable, inimitable ever-changing drawl? Or a humble folk musician – forever imitating his own idols, expressing himself through music, lyric and hard work, who happened to be in the right place (or the wrong place, perhaps) in the early 1960’s? Let’s dig into Chronicles Volume One to try and find out.
The Old Man and the Sea is perhaps Hemingway’s most well loved, and certainly his most well known novel. He even saw it as probably his greatest piece of writing – the remarks which he made while it was being published certainly give that impression.
Beginning with a kid’s back-alley basketball game, Updike’s novel, ‘Rabbit, Run’, lures the reader in by foreshadowing the deeper events to come later. The game is interrupted by an ‘odd adult’, 26 year old Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom – our (anti-?) hero. Even here, on the basketball court, where Rabbit feels most at ease in his own skin, he is an outsider and unwanted. Imagine how he fits into the wider American society – the middle class family life, the department store job demonstrating and selling the ‘Magipeel’, and being a member of the Episcopal Church. It is this basketball game that initially represents his estrangement from society, a theme which develops deeply throughout the novel.
“In the University library he wandered through the stacks, among the thousands of books, inhaling the musty odor of leather, cloth, and drying page as if it were an exotic incense.”
Although I thought I was 50 years late to reading (and writing a review of) Stoner (1965) by John Williams, it turns out I’m really only a year or two late. Apparently this unassuming and, in some ways, unremarkable novel was the must read book of 2013 according to Julian Barnes writing in December of that year. Anyway, it is indeed a substantially good read – worthy of the fanfare it received recently, and almost frustrating that it did not receive similar reviews during Williams’s own lifetime.
Salman Rushdie’s new novel is being released this September…
More to this tale then meets the eye…
Kazuo Ishiguro has been receiving mixed reviews for his first published work in ten years, The Buried Giant. A highly anticipated arrival onto the book market, due in part to the length between releases, but mainly because of Ishiguro’s literary history and triumphs.
Albert Camus – The Stranger
Tl; dr – (Then read the book instead, you won’t regret it.)
In The Stranger Camus uses imagery of nature in an otherwise simply worded text to ultimately express the absurdity of the human condition, and the over-powering steadfastness of nature.
“Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.”
“Worlds on worlds are rolling ever
From creation to decay,
Like the bubbles on a river
Sparkling, bursting, borne away.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley (from Hellas, 1822)
Percy Shelley was a non-violent vegetarian…
“…learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.” – Umberto Eco, via Brother William of Baskerville. ‘The Name of The Rose’
Thus ends the ‘First Day’ of this week long murder mystery.