Thursday, 15 December 2016

Jeffrey Eugenides, "Middlesex"

 – e-book


Read from September 7th to December 7th 2016

My rating:



It took me quite a lot to finish Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex (jeez, three months as I see from my Goodreads counter!), although it was not because it bored me, far from it, but because I chose to read it during my breaks at work and lately I didn’t have many­čśź.

There were so many interesting things in this novel, covering some important aspects of any narrative, such as themes, structure, characters, styles and so on, and in each of them it could be found at least one such fresh approach that I honestly don’t know where to begin. Therefore I’ll begin with the beginning, with the title, that is.

Let’s see: Middlesex is the name of the street where the narrator grew up and metonymically of the house of her/ his parents in this street; it is the name of the book and metaphorically of the main theme in this book – intersexuality; significantly, for the author does not acknowledge autobiographical references, it is also the name of the street in Grosse Pointe where the latter grew up.

It seems to me that just from the beginning there is this swinging between notions, the first one, between reality and fiction (the real street and the physical book with its title versus the narrator’s street and the theme in the book), inviting others, this time within fiction: immigration/ American dream, nature/ nurture, male/ female, family/ incest, tragedy/ comedy and so on) with the key-word that reunites them: “middle”. The structure of the novel, looking like a DNA double spiral, follows a subtle dialectic that keeps deploying the plot and intertwining its two layers: Stephanides’ family saga on one hand and Callie’s arrested bildungsroman on the other hand. The pattern is carefully weaved on an obvious canvas of Greek mythology by a narrator who warns the reader in an exaggerated  rhapsodic voice always tempered by soft postmodern irony (“Sorry if I get a little Homeric at times. That’s genetic, too.”) that the journey that follows is beyond the usual regressus ad uterum, for the discovery of the self truly begins with the genetic ancestry:

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Stefan Zweig, "Marie-Antoinette"

- traduction d’Alzir Hella, Le livre de poche, ├ëditions Grasset & Fasquelle 1993 ; 506 p. ISBN 978-2-253-14669-8



Lu du 18 octobre au 2 d├ęcembre 2016

Mon vote :


Je ne savais pas grand-chose sur Marie-Antoinette avant de lire l’extraordinaire biographie que lui a faite Stefan Zweig. Un petit peu du c├┤te historique – derni├Ęre reine de la France avant la R├ęvolution fran├žaise, d├ęcapit├ęe (je pensais) en m├¬me temps que son mari, le Roi Louis XVI, un petit peu du c├┤t├ę culturel – une des derni├Ęres repr├ęsentantes du rococo, et un petit peu du c├┤t├ę anecdotique (j’ai n’ai jamais trait├ę de vraie cette histoire) – son suppos├ę conseil au peuple affam├ę de manger de la brioche. Je n’├ętais aucunement curieuse de savoir plus d’elle (de cette ├ępoque c’est la figure de Robespierre qui m’a vraiment fascin├ę). Par cons├ęquent, quand une amie, ├á son retour de France, m’a fait cadeau ce livre, achet├ę, « directement de Versailles », c’est le nom de l’auteur qui m’a pouss├ę le lire, car je n’├ętais que mod├ęr├ęment curieuse ├á apprendre de plus sur la vie de cette reine, dont je consid├ęrais la c├ęl├ębrit├ę caus├ęe plut├┤t par son destin tragique que par ses exploits.

N├ęanmoins, la biographie de Stefan Zweig, sans contredire cette opinion, touche plut├┤t ├á son humanit├ę qu’├á sa personnalit├ę, disons, officielle, la rendant vive, complexe et belle justement dans sa m├ędiocrit├ę, bref, la sortant des pages froides de l’Histoire pour faire d’elle un personnage presque litt├ęraire. D’ailleurs, d├Ęs l’introduction, l’auteur nous avoue qu’il a voulu d’une part changer l’image controvers├ęe qu’elle a laiss├ęe ├á la post├ęrit├ę (soit de sainte, soit de p├ęcheresse) et d’autre part montrer comment l’Histoire se charge de cr├ęer des h├ęros malgr├ę eux, rendant tragique m├¬me un ├¬tre ordinaire, car:

…le tragique existe aussi quand une nature moyenne, sinon faible, est li├ęe ├á un destin formidable, ├á des responsabilit├ęs personnelles qui l’├ęcrasent et la broient, et cette forme ici me para├«t m├¬me plus poignante du point de vue humain.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Pascal Quinard, "Sexul și spaima"

 - ebook



Perioada lecturii: 5 octombrie  – 29 noiembrie 2016

Votul meu:



├Än excelentul s─âu articol Le texte litt├ęraire, la lettre et l’image selon Pascal Quignard, Olivier Sigrist atrage aten╚Ťia asupra faptului c─â este important s─â ne amintim, atunci c├«nd ├«l citim pe Quignard, c─â acesta se consider─â un reprezentant al retoricii speculative, cea care opune rela╚Ťiei filosofice cunoa╚Ötere/ ra╚Ťiune dihotomia metafor─â/ logos. Scriitorul, crede el, se situeaz─â cel mai aproape de na╚Öterea logosului, opun├«nd cuvintelor, simple ve╚Öminte disimulatoare, nuditatea ├«nsp─âim├ónt─âtoare a limbajului: „Ce que son ├ęcriture tente de dessiner est cet ├ęcart entre la chose ├á jamais perdue et le langage, ├ęcart entre la chose du sexe et la sexualit├ę organis├ęe par le discours. Il nous en fait saisir la r├ęalit├ę en d├ębusquant le transport constant des mots, des lettres.”

Precizare care adaug─â o a doua interpretare temei enun╚Ťate succint de titlu, ce p─ârea s─â se refere doar la efectele pe care le are sexul asupra psihicului ├«ncep├«nd cu civiliza╚Ťia roman─â, unde el se define╚Öte ├«n special ├«n raport cu moartea, a c─ârei fascina╚Ťie meduzant─â (╚Öi s─â nu uit─âm c─â fascinatio provine din fascinus, traducerea latineasc─â a grecescului phallos) ├«ncearc─â s-o eludeze privind-o numai cu coada ochiului. Potrivit acestei a doua interpret─âri, eseul Sexul si spaima propune de asemenea o privire metaforic─â spre originea limbajului, dup─â cum o anun╚Ť─â, dealtminteri, o metafor─â (deocamdat─â) criptic─â din Avertisment:

Fascina╚Ťia este percep╚Ťia unghiului mort al limbajului. Iat─â de ce aceast─â privire este ├«ntotdeauna lateral─â.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Mircea C─ârt─ârescu, "Solenoid"

 – Humanitas 2015 ISBN 978-973-50-5059-7; 838 p


Perioada lecturii: 5 septembrie – 12 noiembrie 2016
Votul meu:


M-am ab╚Ťinut, cu greu, tre’ s─â m─ârturisesc, s─â citesc ├«n avans vreo recenzie la Solenoidul lui Mircea C─ârt─ârescu, chiar dac─â tare-mi mai f─âceau cu ochiul at├«t excelentul (cum am constatat dup─â aia) articol Et in Solenoid ego!   publicat ├«n Adevarul.ro de Doinel Tronaru pe 1 iunie 2016, c├«t ╚Öi necru╚Ť─âtorul Fratele meu geam─ân, scriitorul  publicat de Nicolae Manolescu ├«n Rom├ónia literar─â din aceea╚Öi lun─â, pentru c─â ╚Ötiam c─â este vorba despre o carte controversat─â ╚Öi eram curioas─â s─â v─âd dac─â p─ârerile mele, neinfluen╚Ťate aprioric, vor coincide cu ale lor.

Din p─âcate, coincid ├«n mare parte, ├«n ciuda faptului c─â am ├«nceput lectura f─âr─â idei preconcepute, ba chiar sper├«nd c─â-mi va pl─âcea mai mult dec├«t Orbitor, carte pe care o considerasem, la vremea ei, preten╚Ťioas─â ╚Öi artificial─â, salvat─â doar de extraordinara imagine a Bucure╚Ötiului, care se reg─âse╚Öte ├«n parte ╚Öi ├«n romanul de fa╚Ť─â.

Nicolae Manolescu distinge dou─â planuri compozi╚Ťionale ale romanului: realist ╚Öi oniric. Eu a╚Ö ad─âuga un al treilea, cel SF. Ca ╚Öi ilustrul critic („Dac─â m─â pune┼úi s─â aleg ├«ntre aceste planuri (suprapuse, ├«ncruci┼čate, ├«mb├órligate, confundabile), nu ezit a-l prefera pe cel dint├ói”), consider de departe primul plan ca fiind cel mai izbutit, al doilea ├«n mare parte interesant dar oarecum c─âutat, ├«n timp ce al treilea este, cum bine observa Doinel Tronaru, destul de juvenil ╚Öi superficial („Specula╚Ťii precum teseractul lui Hinton sau universurile multidimensionale este preferabil s─â r─âm├ón─â ├«n zona SF-ului, de unde provin, nu cred c─â reprezint─â solu┼úii la problemele metafizice, dec├ót la un nivel foarte facil”).

Friday, 21 October 2016

Dan C. Mih─âilescu, "Castelul, biblioteca, pu┼čc─âria. Trei v─âmi ale feminit─â┼úii exemplare"

- Humanitas 2013. ISBN 978-973-50-4250-9 ; 194 p.



Perioada lecturii: 5 – 17 octombrie 2016

Votul meu:




C├«nd palatul ┼či biblioteca nu mai s├«nt dec├«t ni┼čte ├«nchisori ceva mai rafinate

Dup─â dezam─âgitoarele lecturi ale romanelor unor scriitoare ca Cella Serghi  ┼či Ani┼čoara Odeanu, ├«ncepusem s─â cred c─â ├«ndemnul lui Heliade-R─âdulescu (u┼čor adaptat pentru a se potrivi contextului ├«n „Scrie┼úi, fetelor, orice, numai scrie┼úi”) se reverberase p├«n─â ├«n perioada interbelic─â, pentru a umple locul acela unde ar fi trebuit s─â se afle literatura noastr─â feminin─â ┼či care p─ârea sa fie ocupat cu adev─ârat doar de un singur nume ┼či acela pus ├«n dreptul scrierilor de calitate, dar care nu-s capodopere: Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu. A trebuit s─â-mi pice ├«n m├«n─â cartea lui Dan C. Mih─âilescu, Castelul, biblioteca, pu┼čc─âria. Trei v─âmi ale feminit─â┼úii exemplare, ca s─â-mi revizuiesc opiniile, vorba lui Caragiale, pe ici pe colo,  ┼či anume ├«n punctele esen┼úiale.

E adev─ârat c─â opera celor paisprezece figuri evocate (┼či care nu toate apar┼úin numai perioadei interbelice) face parte din zona aceea a literaturii care ezit─â ├«ntre fic┼úiune ┼či non fic┼úiune, fiind vorba de jurnale, memorii ┼či epistole, dar, poate c─â, a┼ča cum sus┼úine autorul ├«n prefa┼úa sa, memorialistica s-ar cuveni ┼či ea inclus─â ├«n beletristic─â, al─âturi de literatura epistolar─â. P├«n─â una alta ├«ns─â, pentru c─â, a┼ča cum se ├«nt├«mpl─â cu operele de acest fel, grani┼úa dintre autor ┼či narator se estompeaz─â, figurile evocate, pl─âtind ├«ntr-un fel sau altul, ca s─â ├«mprumut frumoasa metafor─â a autorului,  vam─â at├«t vie┼úii c├«t ┼či literaturii, se transform─â ├«n eroine exemplare, d├«nd na┼čtere, ├«n viziunea lui Dan C. Mihailescu, a trei tipuri, la fel de  exemplare, ale feminit─â┼úii rom├óne┼čti: prin┼úesa, intelectuala, martira.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Al. O. Teodoreanu, "Politice ┼či apulitice"

- editura Victor Frunz─â, 1996. ISBN 9-789-739-120-159; 70 p.



Perioada lecturii: 11 decembrie 2012

Votul meu:



Am dat din ├«nt├«mplare printre c─âr┼úile mele electronice  peste acest voluma┼č ap─ârut la editura Victor Frunz─â pe care l-am citit dintr-o suflare, amuz├«ndu-m─â copios. Am constatat cu aceast─â ocazie c─â unele epigrame le cuno┼čteam, dar eram convins─â c─â fac parte din folclorul urban (d.e. "Zece membri de partid") – convingere nu ├«n totalitate deplasat─â, ┼úin├«nd cont de faptul c─â multe dintre versurile sale au intrat cu adev─ârat ├«n memoria colectiv─â, unele, dup─â buna tradi┼úie a oralit─â┼úii, fiind at├«t de modificate ├«nc├«t, a┼ča cum observ─â Wikipedia, nu se mai poate considera c─â-i apar┼úin.

Spumoase ┼či delicios de licen┼úioase, epigramele nu iart─â nimic: nici figurile importante ale epocii, nici clasele politice, nici confra┼úii scriitori, nici propria ├«nclina┼úie bahic─â.

Lui Victor Eftimiu, P─âstorel  ├«i pune cu umor la ├«ndoial─â virilitatea... poetic─â:

"Eftimiu trubadur
Sperie Parnasul!
Cum z─âre┼čte c├óte-un cur
I se scoal─â, … nasul!"

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Lucian Boia, "Strania istorie a comunismului rom├ónesc (╚Öi nefericitele ei consecin╚Ťe)"



 – Humanitas, Bucure╚Öti 2016 ISBN 978-973-50-5278-2 ; 230 pagini



Perioada lecturii: 22 septembrie – 4 octombrie 2016

Votul meu : 4/ 5 stele


Societatea civil─â rom├óneasc─â se ├«ncheag─â extrem de greu. (...) „Binele public” este ╚Öi ast─âzi un concept destul de str─âin mentalit─â╚Ťii rom├óne╚Öti.


Mai mult dec├«t at├«t, a╚Ö spune eu: pentru majoritatea rom├ónilor, nimic nu e mai presus de „binele personal”, iar orice preocupare (a altora, evident) pentru „binele public” este privit─â cu uimire, atunci c├«nd nu este luat─â de-a binelea ├«n r├«s. De aceea, s├«nt c├«╚Ťiva ani buni de c├«nd nu mai ├«mp─ârt─â╚Öesc mirarea lui Lucian Boia privind modul de g├«ndire p├«n─â ╚Öi al unor respectabili intelectuali rom├óni, pentru c─â, pe de o parte, intelectualitatea rom├óneasc─â are o lung─â tradi╚Ťie ├«n a sta (oarecum) drept ╚Öi a judeca str├«mb (apogeul constituindu-l nu comunismul, ├«n care aveau m─âcar scuza constr├«ngerii, ci (in)glorioasa perioad─â interbelic─â), iar pe de alt─â parte de c├«te ori nu au sacrificat ╚Öi ei binele public pentru cel personal. A╚Öa se face c─â, auzind vara asta de la o persoan─â de altfel drag─â mie panseul „Nu conteaz─â cine e la putere at├«ta vreme c├«t ne d─â”, am z├«mbit deta╚Öat ╚Öi f─âr─â indignarea de an╚Ť─âr╚Ť, c├«nd o asemenea afirma╚Ťie m-ar fi trimis la r─âzboi cu toat─â lumea aia care consider─â c─â i se cuvine s─â i se dea. Dovad─â, probabil, c─â m-am ├«nv─â╚Ťat ├«n cele din urm─â cu ideea c─â aceasta e Rom├ónica noastr─â de azi care, a╚Öa cum observ─â just autorul, dac─â se va schimba vreodat─â nu va fi din interior, cum nici cea de ieri ╚Öi de alalt─âieri nu s-a schimbat din interior, ci sub presiunea unor for╚Ťe mai presus de ea:


R─âm├«ne s─â sper─âm c─â istoria ne va fi ├«n continuare aliat─â. Odat─â ce am intrat ├«n logica unei democra╚Ťii de tip occidental, s-ar putea ca mecanismul acesta s─â se dovedeasc─â mai puternic dec├«t iner╚Ťiile noastre.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Alexandr Soljeni╚Ť├«n, "Arhipelagul GULAG" vol. al III-lea

– e-book; traducere, note ╚Öi tabel cronologic de Nicolae Iliescu; Postfa╚Ť─â de Ion Vasile ╚śerban (ap─ârut la Editura UNIVERS Bucure╚Öti, 1998)



Perioada lecturii:  5 aprilie – 13 septembrie 2016

Votul meu:



Pe 31 ianuarie 2016, c├«nd ├«ncepeam cu timiditate ╚Öi oarecare str├«ngere de inim─â lectura masivei opere a lui Alexandr Soljeni╚Ť├«n, Arhipelagul GULAG, ╚Ötiam despre Gulag „doar” c─â era simbolul cel mai ├«nfrico╚Ö─âtor al represiunii staliniste ╚Öi c─â desemna un vast teritoriu amenin╚Ť─âtor, delimitat vag (pentru mine) geografic prin nordul Rusiei, unde se afla cea mai mare ├«nchisoare (nu ╚Ötiam atunci c─â erau de fapt mai multe) pentru de╚Ťinu╚Ťii politici din fosta URSS. Citisem destule despre acest gen de ├«nchisori, de la opere de fic╚Ťiune a c─âror asem─ânare cu realitatea nu era deloc ├«nt├«mpl─âtoare, ca m─ârturia lui Victor Petrini din Cel mai iubit dintre p─âm├«nteni a lui Marin Preda, la c─âr╚Ťi de memorii scoase parc─â din somnul ra╚Ťiunii ca Jurnalul fericirii al lui Nicolae Steinhardt sau Reeducarea de la Aiud a lui Demostene Andronescu, a╚Öa ├«nc├«t m─â consideram oarecum pregatit─â pentru o lectur─â din care ╚Ötiam c─â nu vor lipsi pagini atroce.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Kingsley Amis, "Jake’s Thing"


 – Penguin Books 1980, ISBN 0140050965/ 9780140050967 ; 288 p.



Read from August 15th to September 9th 2016

My rating


During the twenty-minute waiting between the two buses I have to take to go to work every day I – read of course, what else? Usually slim books that don’t weigh a lot in my purse, like Kingsley Amis’s Jake’s Thing, which I borrowed from a friend of mine who bought it in a second-hand bookstore without looking inside, as I realized when I grabbed it one morning and opened it happily and impatiently (for Lucky Jim is one of my favourites and I was looking forward to something in the same tonality) in the bus station to suddenly realize that the first chapter was missing. Since the second one began at page 5, I decided that whatever events were presented in the first three (coz I excluded the title page, of course) could be read afterwards and thus, following a Cortazar recipe, I read the novel as it was and went in search of the first chapter afterwards. Lucky me, I found it on Amazon, which was offering it as a sample of its kindle edition.

I don’t want to suggest, with this long introduction, that the story of the reading was more interesting than the story itself; it was just that it made me able to recapture a long-lost memory from my childhood holidays at my grandparents’ house in a mesmerizing countryside (though, alas, not in Combray!), with long sunny days during which I used to climb dusty attics looking for old, dilapidated books I devoured despite missing covers or pages or both. I did not care much then about the indestructibility of the text, nor did I bother with the idea that even a single missing word can leave a gaping hole in a narrative. On the contrary, I loved to fill in the blanks with my own words, to guess and even re-write the missing parts.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Samuel Beckett, "The Unnamable"

 – e-book



Read from: September 25th to October 3rd 2013

My rating:


Imagine the creative impulse is a black hole from which rises a bewildered narrative voice, which tries to make sense only of itself, not of the world. Which tries to become a character, or a body, or a feeling, or a story, and struggles to accept both sides of every coin. Like a picture made only of colours, colours that burst, that flow, that spring from the canvas in no apparent order and coherence – The Unnamable is made only of words, whirlwinding round and round the reader in an endless monologue, questioning, negating and accepting, forever defining the unity of opposites:

I'm there already: I'll start looking for me now, I'm there somewhere. It won't be I - no matter, I'll say it's I. Perhaps it will be I.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Ludmila Ulitskaya, "The Funeral Party"

Translated from the Russian by Cathy Porter – e-book


Read from August 29th to 31st 2016

My rating:


I definitely have to report it J: Ludmila Ulitskaya’s Funeral Party has stolen my dream – my nightmare, that is. I think I’ve already talked about it elsewhere, this recurrent dream I have in which I find myself stranded in Romania with no money and no job (although sometimes I dream that my former school took pity on me and employed me again), freaking out about my bills, my job and my home in Quebec. Over the years I’ve often dismissed this dream of mine as the embodiment of some lack of security about my position and role in my adoptive country that haunts my subconscious. I had to read Ludmila Ulitskaia’s book to learn on one hand that my nightmare was not unusual nor singular and on the other hand that another interpretation, subtler and cleverer could be found: a deep nostalgia of the immigrant for his/ her native land combined with the fear of the same nostalgia – fear to succumb it, that is:

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Sarane Alexandrian, "Istoria filosofiei oculte"

 (Histoire de la philosophie occulte) – Humanitas, 1994,  Traducere de Claudia Dumitriu. ISBN 973-28-0438-6


Perioada lecturii: 29 mai - 19 august 2016

Votul meu:



Un cadou recent de la fostul meu prof de română, Istoria filosofiei oculte a lui Sarane Alexandrian a venit taman cînd căutam literatură de specialitate pe tema sefiroturilor din Pendulul lui Foucault. Așa se explică de ce am început s-o citesc, ca să zic așa, peste rînd, dar nu-mi pare rău deloc, subiectul, foarte interesant în sine, este tratat excelent!

Autorul afirm─â ├«n prolog c─â a scris aceast─â carte pentru c─â ├«╚Öi explic─â fascina╚Ťia dintotdeauna a cititorilor pentru magie ╚Öi vr─âjitorie nu prin declinul religiei sub influen╚Ťa materialismului ╚Öi nici printr-o „aspira╚Ťie intelectual─â spre miraculos”, ci prin faptul c─â omul are at├«t o g├«ndire pragmatic─â c├«t ╚Öi una magic─â, c─â o accept─â sau o neag─â, c─â o cultiv─â sau o ├«n─âbu╚Ö─â. Aceasta este evident─â ├«n copil─ârie, persist─â ├«n vise ╚Öi se revars─â ├«n nevroze sau psihoze.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

John Updike, "Rabbit, Run"

– Crest Books, 1965; 256 p.


Read from June 16th to July 21st 2016

My rating:


I knew almost nothing about John Updike before reading Rabbit, Run, except that he was a contemporary American writer and a pretty good stylist (and after finishing the novel I can tell you the last appreciation is an understatement). However I was expecting (I don’t know why, especially since I knew all along the novel was published first in 1960) a postmodernist approach instead of a neo-modernist one. In brief, I thought his literary prestige is due to some innovations in the narrative technique and it was quite a surprise (a delightful one) to discover that he uses to deploy his inimitable, truly mesmerizing narrative voice mostly traditional techniques. That is, there is no cleverly built up structure but a restless, rhythmic beat of a prose that discreetly and masterfully recreates a world by skillfully taming the words.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Jonathan Gottschall, "The Storytelling Animal (How Stories Make Us Human)"

- Mariner Books, New York 2013, ISBN 978-0-544-00234-0 248 p.



Read from June 22nd to July 16th 2016

My rating:


Someone complained that Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal is overgrown – that is, that all the ideas it contains could have been easily synthetized in a long article. I wouldn’t go so far, although I also felt sometimes that one point or another was discussed to its outer limits. Anyway, it was an interesting enough reading, even if not very original.

The premise of the book, disclosed by the title (quoting Graham Swift’s inspiring definition of mankind given in Waterland: “Man – let me offer you a definition – is the storytelling animal”) is that the human being is a Homo fictus, who makes up stories all his life, whether he is an artist or not, and the author takes his time in revealing how and why the fiction influences the human life, to stress “the major function” of storytelling: to shape the very human mind that shaped it, in order to prepare it for the everyday problems.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"

 – e-book

Read from: February 17th to 27th 2014

My rating:


Oh, these modernists, what a mess they’ve made of the narrative! What a wonderful, wonderful mess! Gone is the narrator with his arrogant omniscience, gone is the plot with its mania of ordering the events, gone is the safe timeline, gone the round characters, gone, all of them, for they are lies, they pretend to imitate reality while they do not. Or so Virginia Woolf thinks:

"Life is not a series of gig-lamps symmetrically arranged: life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display...?" (Modern Fiction)

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Annie Dillard, "Living by Fiction"

 – Harper Perennial 1998; 192 p.; ISBN 0-06-091544-7


Read from May 31st to June 21st 2016

My rating:



With her “Living by Fiction”, Annie Dillard seems to contradict Emile Cioran’s belief that building on the ideas/ creations of others is a form of intellectual parasitism, such an outstanding proof is this book that criticism can be art, that it can use literature as an inspirational source to its own glory, just like art uses world to the same purpose. In fact these are the two main themes of the essay: criticism versus art and art versus the world, both suggested by the inspired title. The second one is also emphasized by a clever question asked in Introduction: “Does fiction illuminate the great world itself or only the mind of its human creator?”

The answer is gradually developed in the three parts by discussing the how, the what and why of the fiction-world relationship. Part One, “Some Contemporary Fiction”, compares what the author calls historical modernists (Kafka, Joyce, Faulkner, Gide, Woolf, etc.) with contemporary modernists (Borges, Nabokov, Beckett, Barth, Robe-Grillet, Calvino, Cortazar, etc.) to show that the techniques of the first are still employed by the latter, by looking over time, characters, point of view, fable or themes.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Umberto Eco, "Le pendule de Foucault"

 – (Il pendolo di Foucault) ├ëditions Grasset et Fasquelle 1990, ISBN 2-253-05949-8, 656 p. Traduit de l’italien par Jean-No├źl Schifano



(Re-) lu du 30 mars au 15 juin 2016

Mon vote :


Que je me souviens bien de la premi├Ęre ├ędition (une traduction en roumain) du roman Le pendule de Foucault qui m’est tomb├ęe entre les mains dans ma jeunesse, et de la forte impression que m’a laiss├ę cette lecture ! il m’avait tellement fascin├ę que, comme une vraie ├ęmulation de ses personnages, j’ai lu, par apr├Ęs, tout ce que j’ai pu trouver sur les Templiers (incluant Les Rois mauditsJ).

Vingt ans apr├Ęs, comme dirait Dumas, me voici de nouveau ├ęmerveill├ęe devant ce chef-d’┼ôuvre d’Umberto Eco, qui, je vous le dis,  sonne aussi bien en fran├žais qu’en roumain. Il faudra absolument que ma prochaine relecture soit en italien, mais je me suis senti oblig├ęe de le lire cette fois en fran├žais, ├ętant donn├ę que la pr├ęsente ├ędition a ├ęt├ę un des premiers livres achet├ęs ici, au Canada, avec l’intention de me refaire la biblioth├Ęque que j’avais d├╗ laisser en Roumanie.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Edmond Rostand, "Cyrano de Bergerac"

 – ebook


Lu du 7 au 14 juin 2016

Mon vote :


Quand mon groupe de lecture  a propos├ę pour le mois de juin le texte Cyrano de Bergerac d’Edmond Rostand, une amie ├á moi a d├ęclar├ę qu’elle allait le lire seulement apr├Ęs avoir vu la repr├ęsentation th├ę├ótrale. Sage d├ęcision, ├ętant donn├ę que ce genre de textes semble con├žu plut├┤t pour ├¬tre parl├ę, d├ęclam├ę, jou├ę, bref v├ęcu publiquement que pour ├¬tre lu dans l’intimit├ę. Et pourtant, moi, j’ai toujours aim├ę lire les pi├Ęces de th├ę├ótre, et, diff├ęremment de mon amie, je pr├ęf├Ęre, si possible, lire avant de voir, appr├ęcier ce que le texte dit avant de m’├ęmerveiller de la fa├žon dont il est reproduit et si je devais absolument choisir entre les deux options, je choisirais toujours la premi├Ęre (sauf s’il s’agissait d’une distribution exceptionnelle, peut-├¬tre).

Une premi├Ęre raison de cette d├ęcision serait que de cette fa├žon tu peux ├¬tre s├╗r d’avoir devant toi le texte int├ęgral et non une variante abr├ęg├ęe par raisons de mise en sc├Ęne (ou par faute de m├ęmoire des acteurs ­čśâ), ce qui, surtout dans les cas des chefs-d’┼ôuvre, est tr├Ęs important, car chaque mot est irrempla├žable, m├¬me dans les indications sc├ęniques et les description du d├ęcor qui ne se r├ęsument jamais ├á ├¬tre seulement cela. Et puis, comment pourrait-on autrement capturer l’opinion de l’auteur sur son propre ┼ôuvre, ├ętant donn├ę qu’il n’y a pas de voix auctorielle plus impersonnelle et plus discr├Ęte que dans le genre dramatique ? C’est seulement par l’entremise de ces indications et de quelques sous-titres et/ ou autres sp├ęcifications qu’elle peut trahir un peu son penchant pour le ludique, en influen├žant, rendre complice ou induire en erreur son lecteur.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Yasunari Kawabata, "House of the Sleeping Beauties"

 – e-book


Read from April 21st to 22nd 2014

My rating:


I’ve always had a certain uneasiness in how to approach Asian literature. Since my knowledge of its background is very limited, I never knew whether the association of a symbol, an image or a metaphor with a Western myth or a Western writer is not risky or simply showing. But then I remembered that there is no such thing as a wrong interpretation (only a dull one J), that a text generally speaks to us what we want it to speak, that, in the end, its voice is always also universal and personal, so that you are free to beat about the bush if you do it gracefully.

All this to explain why to me this novella reminded not only of the two brothers, Hypnos and Thanatos, but also of Orpheus and Eurydice and of a Mircea Eliade’s story, Youth without Youth (made into a film by Coppola, by the way).

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Elena Ferrante, "The Story of the Lost Child"



(Book Four of the Neapolitan Novels – Maturity, Old Age) – Storia della bambina perduta. Translation by Ann Goldstein – e-book.


Read from May 20th to 30th 2016

My Rating: 3/ 5 stars


I don’t know if my habit to read three or more books at the same time is good or bad, but it surely gave me the opportunity to discover connections between books I would have never put in the same sentence in other circumstances. For example, it was fun to discover, in two very dissimilar books, Martin Amis’s The Pregnant Widow and Dan Lungu’s The Little Girl Who Played God, a similar reaction of the characters in front of some landscape while visiting Italy, and which seemed to their awed eyes so impossible picturesque that it had acquired the glossy quality of a postal card. Or to discover that both Alice Munro’s neorealist The View from Castle Rock and Kazuo Ishiguro’s magic realist The Buried Giant managed to find that elusive border between reality and mythology. Not to speak about those times when a book effectively has called another – as Umberto Eco’s Foucault Pendulum did with Alexandrian’s History of the Occult Philosophy – for how could I explain otherwise the fact that I received the second (without even asking) from my former high school teacher just when I was struggling to put in order some random information about occultism wickedly given to me by the first?

Friday, 27 May 2016

Elena Ferrante, "Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay"

- Book Three of the Neapolitan Novels  (Storia di chi fugge e di chi resta) Translation from the Italian by Ann Goldstein – e-book


Read from May 17th to 20th 2016


My rating 



This third book of the Neapolitan novels (which, by the way, I liked better than the second but not as much as the first), is surprisingly well- written for a sequel, I say surprisingly because, with some notable exceptions I usually find sequels very diluted, shadows that try to suck their force from a first, more vigorous narrative.

Well, this is not the case of Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, which reinforced the impression I had while reading the second book (The Story of a New Name – my review here   to whom may interest) that Lila and Len├╣ are the two faces of the same coin, or better, that each of them is the creation of the other. In a complicated mirror technique, the two characters assume in turn, either the Dr. Jekyll or the Mr Hyde’s role, in a hate-love relationship sometimes beneficial, sometimes destructive:

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Elena Ferrante, "The Story of a New Name"

 – e-book (Storia del nuovo cognomen - Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein)


Read from May 13th to 16th 2016

My rating:


Through the Revolving Looking Glass

I remember seeing, some time ago, a movie that was bordering comedy and drama without truly becoming neither, not even a melodrama. It was sometimes touching, sometimes funny, sometimes only artificial – like many a successful box office today. The name of the movie was Sliding Doors  and it was the plot’s idea I liked most: two alternative futures for the heroine, depending on some apparently minor circumstance – her catching or not a train.

Well, while thinking hard (:D) about the second volume of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, The Story of a New Name,  it suddenly struck me that its main technique (the whole series main technique, I guess) is roughly the same – the revolving doors one, combined with the good old motive of the double so favoured by Romantic and/ or Gothic literature. Lila and Len├╣ are nothing but two faces of one and only character in two different circumstances generated by the turning point of continuing or abandoning her education:

My life forces me to imagine what hers would have been if what happened to me had happened to her, what use she would have made of my luck. And her life continuously appears in mine, in the words that I’ve uttered, in which there’s often an echo of hers, in a particular gesture that is an adaptation of a gesture of hers, in my less which is such because of her more, in my more which is the yielding to the force of her less.