25 Jul 2011

the dying animal by philip roth (2001)

i wanted to read philip roth because of an interview that i read in a magazine which really impressed me. i heard about the books of course but never was drawn to read one, but i thought ok now i give it a try and my mother gave me this one, which she had at home.

david kepesh is a professor with a love for young women, mostly students of him. one day he gets to know consuela, also a student, and after the semester, they begin an affair. but this affair is not like the ones he had, he becomes obsessed with consuela and always fears to loose her to a younger man.

a great character-study. roth lets us see inside the mind of david kepesh, lets ud see and understand his thoughts and reasons, even if they are a little strange sometimes, you get to understand this man.

the title of the book is from w.b. yeats poem sailing to byzantium:

"consume my heart away; sick with desire
and fastened to a dying animal"

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20 Jul 2011

on the hillside by markus werner (2004)

thomas clarin goes to his weekend-apartment in agra, to write an article about divorce-law. on the first evening he eats dinner in the hotel bellevue, where he takes place at the table of an older single man. he begins a conversation and soon is fascinated by this man, loos. what is it about this man?

this book is mainly a dialogue between the two men, but what a dialogue, full of interesting thoughts, visions and ideas. it's really stimulating to read. and the ending of the book is very cool, even though i have to admit that i knew how it would end, because someone once told me, and that was exactly the reason why i wanted to read the book in the first place.

markus werner is a swiss author by the way. i don't think the book was translated in english, i didn't find it anyway. will definitively check out his other works.

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1 Jul 2011

against the grain by karl-joris huysman (1884)

jean des essaintes is the last of a dynasty. after an extreme and unconventional life he's now a lonely, eccentric and nerves-sick man, who tries to replace reality with an artificial reality, a dream of reality, which thus becomes reality for him.

really this is novel without a plot, it was the intention of huysman to write about his thoughts, about history and art and poetry and science and not to tell a story. that's sometimes very interesting and other times annoying.

the reason that i wanted to read this book in the first place was because it's said to be the one that inspired dorian gray in oscar wilde's masterpiece the picture of dorian gray, which is one of my favourite books.

nowadays it's not such a shocker anymore but i guess it was at the time.

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hamlet by william shakespeare (1603)

hamlet's father, the king of denmark is insidiously murdered by his brother, who then becomes king and marries hamlet's mother. the old king's ghost seeks hamlet, who swears to take revenge. as he is acting very strange, everyone thinks he's gone mad over his father's dead. but he wants to know first if the ghost has only been a temptation of the devil who whants him to go bad. he therefore creates a play which reflects the deed and exposes the guilty king.

to be honest i was not that impressed by this piece, not like i was with a midsummernight's dream, the merchant of venice and macbeth, but yeah it's good of course.

ma favourite line (from ophelia's monologue o what a noble ming is here o'erthrown):

"o, woe is me
t' have seen what i have seen, see what i see!"

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