Friday, 29 June 2018

Lewis Carroll, "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland"

-  Djvu Editions, Copyright 2002 by Global Language Resources, Inc. Illustrations by John Tenniel and Arthur Rackham. Tenniel illustrations scanned by Michael Richter.

Read from June 5th to 20th 2018

My Rating: 

‘I make you a present of everything I’ve said as yet.’

When my daughter asked me about the role of the Cheshire cat in the narrative and all I could remember was (you bet) her smile lingering long after she was gone, I suddenly realized how long a time ago (pleonastically speaking) I had read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Therefore, I decided it was time for a re-acquaintance with the famous book, and here I am, even more mesmerized than the first time – because I had read Alice then as in Romanian, so it is only now that I can truly and delightedly savour every single pun and other linguistic joke the best of translators could not transpose from one language to another, for it is only in English you can say a lesson is called a lesson because it will lessen in time, or tell a sad tale in the form of a tail (here goes, Apollinaire, the originality of your Calligrammes J), or draw treacle from a treacle-well even though you are in the well – that is, well-in.

In fact, it seems to me that Alice falls all way down the Rabbit-Hole into the Word realm rather than into the “Antipathies” – namely that place where everything is upside down (although Alice is not so sure she got its name right). Perhaps this is why, just after her landing there, and after discovering that not only her universe has changed but also her knowledge, be it mathematical (“four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen”) or geographical (“London is the capital of Paris, and Paris is the capital of Rome”), she has some identity crisis, coming to the conclusion that she must have become someone else she doesn’t care too much to be mistaken for so…

... if I’m Mabel, I’ll stay down here! It’ll be no use their putting their heads down and saying ”Come up again, dear!” I shall only look up and say ”Who am I then? Tell me that first, and then, if I like being that person, I’ll come up: if not, I’ll stay down here till I’m somebody else.”

Pretty soon however the little girl becomes too fascinated with the world around her to care very much about her name and fate anymore, for she has stepped into the Wordland and tries to act accordingly.

First, she encounters a Mouse whom she greets in a Latin way –  “O Mouse”, because she remembers from her brother’s Latin Grammar that this is the appropriate form to address someone (‘A mouse—of a mouse—to a mouse—a mouse—O mouse!’) and when he does not answer, she suspectes he is a foreigner and tries to speak to him in French, quite clumsily, unfortunately, for the only words she remembers are “où est ma chatte”, thus spooking the bilingual creature.

Very quickly, Alice learns that in Wordland the expressions have literal meanings either when she is about to drown in a pool of her own tears, or when the trial she was summoned at as a witness collapses like a house of cards, or when she meets the grinning Cheshire cat (by the way, the expression “to grin like a Cheshire cat” is way older than Lewis Carroll’s story, whatever you might have thought). Other times expressions are slightly modified to fit the purpose – the mock turtle learned at school not the Painting in oils but the Fainting in Coils, together with Drawling and Stretching instead of Drawing and Sketching, of course. Anyway, for your information, at the bottom of the sea they also teach Reeling and Writhing, ‘and then the different branches of Arithmetic— Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.’

Also, only in Wordland mock turtle soup exists because there is a mock turtle to begin with, and any fish wearing a livery becomes a footman, and the “little bill” the rabbit sends in is a lizard (named Bill, how else?). Furthermore, you can grow in any direction you like simply by following the instructions on a bottle (“drink me”) or the advice of a caterpillar (on how to eat a mushroom), so one time Alice grows shorter so quickly that her chin strikes her foot and another time she grows so taller that her neck is mistaken for a serpent by a frightened Pigeon.

In Wordland, mathematics, logics and semantics blend together in a perfect interdisciplinary wordplay, brilliant and fascinating in whatever form it takes: the clever sophism (‘Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,’ thought Alice; ‘but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever say in my life!’); the unanswerable riddle (‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’) many have tried to solve nevertheless (and the most fitting answer I have found to date is “Because Poe wrote on both”); the unsettling personification stressing the noun instead of the verb (‘If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, ‘you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.’); the candid truism (‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’); and last but not least, the elaborate, mind-boggling nonsense: 

‘I quite agree with you,’ said the Duchess; ‘and the moral of that is—”Be what you would seem to be”—or if you’d like it put more simply—”Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”’

Actually, the tale is rich especially in mathematical allusions (anyone knowing why that is J?) which, although I must confess remain somewhat obscure to me, are nevertheless exceptional in their apparent lack of meaning that hide mathematically true statements, as David Day observed in his very interesting article  The Cheshire Cat’s Grin:

“In the final chapter, during the trial of the Knave of Hearts, Alice objects to the Queen’s system of “sentence first, verdict afterwards.” Unknowingly, Alice has entered into an argument that employs the formal mathematical language of sentential calculus (today known as propositional calculus), in which, as the Queen says, the sentence (or formula) must be complete before any valid verdict (or conclusion) can be reached.”

Do you wonder therefore why Alice fancies she is the heroine of a book she will write herself when she grows up, even tough at that precise moment she was so grown-up she was afraid she would not fit her own tale anymore? Me neither. Together with her to-be-Author (and with the Duchess, of course), she made us indeed an everlasting present of every word she said and heard. Everlasting and ever-elusive at the same time, since every reading is chameleonically afresh in meanings, for, as Dr Leon Coward justly and somehow frustratedly observes  (see Wikipedia) the gift the Victorian reader unwrapped was as different from the contemporary reader’s as it will be from the future one’s. But what a gift!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Gail Honeyman, "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine"

 – e-book

Read from May 5thto June 1st2018

My vote: 

I understand that Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fineis the first novel Gail Honeyman has published. As a debut, it is a very interesting novel indeed, with its fresh and lively voice that leaves the readers with a smile on their lips after closing the book. 

I must confess I have had some trouble in establishing its genre, though. To label it chicklit seemed to me a little unfair, since this label carries a soupcon of superficiality, of light reading. The author of the Kirkus review appears to have encountered the same problem, calling it “part comic novel, part emotional thriller, and part love story” – a little too many parts, in my opinion, from which at least one an exaggeration and/ or wishful thinking. Nevertheless, it could be all three (and a few others), if you encompass them in a satirical approach, with a touch of neo-modernist psychological (melo)drama (hum, more and more confusing, told you, not so easy to classify). 

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Isabel Allende „Casa spiritelor”

 – e-book. 
La casa de los espíritus- traducerea: Cornelia Rădulescu

Perioada lecturii: 3 – 24 mai 2018 

Votul meu:

Că Isabel Allende ştie să scrie mi-am dat seama imediat ce am terminat de citit Daughter of Fortune (Fiica norocului, cred că e traducerea românească şi à propos de traducere, Cornelia Rădulescu face o treabă la fel de bună cu versiunea românească a La casa de los espíritusca Margaret Sayers cu aceea englezească a Hija de la fortuna). 

Cu toate acestea, nu pot să spun că romanul care i-a adus celebritatea, Casa spiritelor, m-a impresionat în mod deosebit. Este adevărat, tehnica narativă este interesantă şi ingenioasă în simplitatea ei aparentă şi în structura ei rotundă, chiar dacă nu este nouă. Naraţiunea curge pe trei voci care sînt de fapt două, a lui Esteban şi a Albei, deşi cititorul trăieşte cu impresia că naratorul principal, care povesteşte în general la persoana a treia inclusiv despre Alba, este mult mai îndepărtat în timp de evenimentele povestite. Abia în epilog Alba îşi asumă vocea narativă, destăinuind totodată că nu a mimat vocea bunicului ei, ci l-a lăsat să scrie el însuşi părţi din poveste. De asemenea, simetria compoziţională – romanul începe şi sfîrşeşte cu o notaţie din jurnalul bunicii naratoarei, Clara: „Barrabás a ajuns la noi în familie pe calea mării..." dezvoltă şi structural tema eternei reîntoarceri nitzscheene, omul prins în lanţul repetitiv al destinului pe care Alba încearcă să-l rupă făcînd o dublă alegere: morală, în acelaşi sens nitzschean, atunci cînd hotărăşte să nu se răzbune, şi estetică, atunci cînd îşi sublimează suferinţa, transformînd-o în artă:

Friday, 11 May 2018

Jasper Fforde, "The Eyre Affair"


Read from April 20th to May 3rd 2018

My rating:

I’ve often told, to whoever wanted to listen to, the story of a lawyer friend of mine who, in the process of redecorating his apartment, put all his books in three or four huge plastic bags and left them in the (not quite secure) hall of the building. When I asked him how come he was not afraid someone would be tempted to take them, he answered: “Whenever have you heard about book theft? I, in my ten years or so of law practice, I have never encountered such a case.” And this happened almost twenty years ago, when e-books were still a dream of the future and folks like me were spending long hours in old bookstores in search of cheaper paperbacks, so the obvious moral of the tale is that for most people books are not valuable objects; even those who occasionally read don’t have the urge to be surrounded by books, nor to invest in them.

But how do you imagine life in a world in which not having books would be inconceivable, where they are the most coveted items, so that all human beings cherish, fight, steal and often die for them? What a dream world would that be, don’t you agree with me? Well, this is the world that generously opens for you in Jasper Fforde’s novel, The Eyre Affair. It may not be Borges’s paradise (it is not, for sure!) but man, how I would like to live there, if only for a while! In the circumstances, following the Literary Detective Thursday’s adventures it’s the best next, pun intended, of course.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Charles Robert Maturin, « Melmoth ou l’homme errant »

 – e-book

Lu du 3 avril au 7 mai 2018

Mon vote :

Ceux qui connaissent l’habitude que je me suis faite depuis longtemps de lire un livre dans la langue dans laquelle il a été écrit (à condition que je la connaisse, bien-sûr), ou, sinon, dans la traduction roumaine, seront peut-être étonnés de voir ma critique du roman de Charles Robert Maturin en français. Mais (et c’est la deuxième fois que cela m’arrive, après Le prophète de Khalil Gibran ) quand je l’ai commencé, j’étais convaincue que je lisais dans la bonne langue, je ne sais pas pourquoi (peut-être parce que j’avais déjà le e-book comme ça et de plus je me souvenais que Balzac avait écrit une suite à ce roman). 

En tout cas, même si je me suis rendu compte après les premières pages de mon erreur, j’ai continué la lecture parce que la traduction m’a paru vraiment bonne et j’ai considéré qu’il ne valait pas la peine de chercher l’original anglais – que j’aurais probablement trouvé sans trop de difficultés, étant donné qu’il s’agit d’une œuvre du début du XIXe siècle. 

Je dois reconnaître je n’aurais pas fait cette erreur quand même si j’avais eu idée de qui est l’auteur, mon ignorance étant nourrie par le fait qu’il est à peu près tombé dans l’oubli, ce que je trouve, après l’avoir lu, qu’il est vraiment dommage, non seulement parce qu’on pourrait à peine trouver un meilleur représentant du romantisme gothique, mais aussi parce que son récit a inspiré l’œuvre de quelques  grands écrivains du XIXe et XXe siècle, parmi lesquels Baudelaire, Balzac, Lautréamont, André Breton, Nabokov (vous vous rappelez la voiture de Humbert Humbert nommée Melmoth ?) et last but not least Oscar Wilde, dont il a été le grand-oncle, par alliance, il est vrai. 

Comme je disais tout à l’heure Melmoth ou l’homme errantest l’exemple parfait de ce qui a constitué l’idéal artistique du romantisme, dont il illustre presque toutes les caractéristiques  qu’on a appris à l’école, sans devenir pour cela une œuvre avec thèse (comme L’art poétiquede Boileau par exemple). 

Centré sur le thème faustien de l’âme damnée, le roman se construit autour d’un personnage mystérieux, Melmoth – héros-antihéros, exceptionnel en circonstances exceptionnelles, hantant la géographie des esprits et des pays, tragique dans son immortalité qu’il a gagné dans un pacte avec le diable et à laquelle il ne peut s’échapper ni même par l’amour pur qu’éprouve pour lui Imalie, et qui touche parfois à son cœur. 

Il faut bien que je rie, puisque je ne saurais pleurer, dit Melmoth en fixant sur elle ses yeux secs et brûlants que le clair de lune rendait plus visible. Il y a longtemps que la source des larmes est tarie en moi, comme celle de tout autre bonheur humain.

La mission de Melmoth, convaincre les gens à faire le même pacte que lui pour changer de place, le porte dans divers endroits du monde, ce qui donne l’occasion au(x) narrateur(s) de présenter plusieurs scènes dénonçant les fausses valeurs que promeuvent la famille, l’église, la société. Les plus terrifiantes sont celles présentées dans l’histoire de Moncada, qui donne une idée de la terrible influence que l’église catholique avait dans la famille et la société, transformant les gens en marionnettes avec la simple menace de la punition divine pour des pêchés plutôt imaginaires, comme dans le cas de la mère de Moncada, qui, même si est maintenant mariée avec le père du jeune espagnol, est convaincue par le prêtre de la famille que son fils aîné doit devenir moine pour laver le pêché d’être né bâtard. Dans un moment de faiblesse, Moncada cède au chantage sentimental de sa mère et accepte de prêter serment, se trouvant par après dans une situation sans espoir, malgré les efforts surhumains de son frère de l’en faire sortir. Les abus hallucinants des moines, encouragés par leur supérieur, les lois draconiennes influencées par l’Inquisition font la partie la plus troublante du roman, surtout à cause de leurs accents vrais :

— Et c'est cela, alors, la vie monastique ?
— C'est cela ; à deux exceptions près : pour ceux qui, par l'imagination, peuvent renouveler chaque jour l'espoir de s'échapper et chérissent cet espoir jusqu'à leur lit de mort ; pour ceux qui, comme moi, diminuent leur misère en la divisant et, semblables à l'araignée, se soulagent du poison dont ils sont gonflés en en instillant une goutte à chaque insecte qui, comme vous, peine et agonise dans leur toile.

Une autre caractéristique du romantisme a été le retour à la nature, non plus considérée seulement le cadre de l’action comme dans le classicisme, mais mise en communion étroite avec l’âme. Il n’est pas  par hasard que le personnage le plus pur, le contraste absolu de Melmoth soit Imalie, qui a grandi toute seule sur une île déserte, dans un paradis tropical :

C’est alors que j’existe de nouveau au milieu des fleurs et des parfums. J’entends la musique des airs et des ruisseaux. Tout vit et tout aime autour de moi. Mes pas sont jonchés de fleurs, et l’onde pure vient encore baiser mes pieds !

Par contre, des éléments gothiques sont utilisés pour décrire l’atmosphère dans les bâtiments construits par l’homme, qui sont froids et sinistres : châteaux hantés, monastères avec des cachots horribles, ruines et prisons où le bras long de l’Inquisition a jeté les pauvres malheureux qu’elle torture au nom du Dieu sans peur de devoir justifier ses actions :

Vous n'ignorez pas sans doute, Monsieur, que le pouvoir de l'Inquisition, semblable à celui de la mort, vous sépare, par un simple attouchement, de toutes les relations que vous pouviez avoir avec le monde. Du moment où sa main vous a saisi, toutes les mains humaines se détachent de la vôtre. Vous n'avez plus ni père, ni mère, ni sœur, ni enfant. 

Enfin, l’ambition du romantisme de briser les canons formels des genres littéraires, est brillamment accomplie ici, le roman y étant innovateur, avec sa structure très complexe qui combine à la perfection plusieurs techniques narratives rencontrés d’habitude séparément : l’analepse, la mise en abîme, le récit encadré non suivant le modèle du Décaméron mais plutôt celui des poupées rousses, les motifs du manuscrit (celui trouvé par le premier narrateur contenant l’histoire très fragmentée – faute du souci de l’authenticité – de Stanton et celui du manuscrit à recopier par Moncada et qui contient l’histoire de la famille Walberg et l’histoire des amoureux  Elinor et John Sandel), la multiplicité des voix narratives, etc.

Il y avait un temps, dans mon éloignée jeunesse, où je cherchais surtout des histoires de ce genre, car le mystère gothique me fascinait. Que j’aurais savouré ce roman si même aujourd’hui je l’ai lu avec un tel plaisir ! Honnêtement, parfois la mémoire littéraire est très injuste !

Friday, 4 May 2018

Karen Elizabeth Gordon, “The Ravenous Muse: A Table of Dark and Comic Contents, a Bacchanal of Books”

 – Pantheon, 1998. Illustrator, Dugald Stermer, Designer, Fearn Cutler. ISBN 067941861X; 248 p.

Read from April 9th to May 2nd 2018

My rating : 

You know that old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, I have always considered it to be true, especially in its literal sense, therefore the cover of a book has never been a criterion in my reading choice – until now. I mean, until I was given, as a birthday present, some three months ago, Karen Elizabeth Gordon’s Ravenous Muse, and I so fell in love with Dugald Stermer’s drawing on it that it gave me the impulse to read it as soon as possible, despite the huge pile of books reproachingly hovering over me.

And I have not, for a single day of all 23 spent on reading it, regretted this impulse, not only because I so enjoyed looking at its amazing cover every time I closed it, but also because the cover really delivers, keeping its promise to feed the reader to his entire satisfaction, promise reinforced by the introduction:

Since you are here, you too must be a bibliogourmand, taking sensual as well as cerebral pleasure in the act of reading. And that’s what’s on the table here: creation caught in the act, writer and muse in flagrante delicto, biting each other’s mouths.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Carleta Calin, "Petit dictionnaire de termes musicaux français – italien – anglais – roumain"

Piccolo dizionario di termini musicali francese – italiano – inglese - rumeno
French – Italian – English – Romanian Little Dictionary of Musical Terminology 
Mic dicţionar de termeni muzicali francez– italian – englez – român 

Carleta Calin, "Petit dictionnaire de termes musicaux français - roumain"

Petit dictionnaire de termes musicaux français - roumain  - 

Mic dicţionar de termeni muzicali francez – român

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Mihai Radu, „Extraconjugal”


Perioada lecturii : 13 – 19 aprilie 2018

Votul meu:

Bezna in transmisiune directă

În Suplimentul de cultură din 8 ianuarie 2018, Eli Bădică include romanul Extraconjugal al lui Mihai Radu printre cele zece creații românești notabile ale anului 2017. Ceea ce ar fi fost mai mult decît suficient pentru a-mi trezi curiozitatea, mai ales că mi-am propus de la o vreme să urmăresc mai îndeaproape literatura românească contemporană, doar că eu am citit articolul abia după ce am terminat cartea, asupra căreia îmi atrăsese atenția recenzia unei prietene întru cărți de pe GoodReads (mulțumesc, Vio!)

Să spun drept, nici despre autor nu știam mare lucru, dar ceea ce am aflat din nota biografică (că scrie pentru Cațavenci și pentru emisiunea Starea Nației, că a publicat două volume împreună cu Simona Tache, al căror titlu cel puțin - Femeile vin de pe Venus, bărbații de la băutși Bărbații vin de pe Marte, femeile de la coafor- parodiază celebra stupizenie a lui John Gray, Men Are from Mars Women are from Venus) ca să nu mai vorbesc de recenta lectură, bineînțeles, l-a inclus deja în lista mea privilegiată de nume cu asterisc (adică „*de ținut minte”).

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Georges Perec, « La vie mode d’emploi »

- e-book

Lu du 16 février au 5 avril 2018

Mon vote : 

Assise devant son ordinateur, elle est en train d’écrire la critique du livre de Georges Perec, La vie, mode d’emploi. Derrière le document Word ouvert dans une petite fenêtre (c’est une habitude à elle de ne pas occuper tout l’écran avec un document) on peut voir sur le bureau, autour d’une photo qui occupe le centre, une pêle-mêle d‘icônes : fichiers (« documents-travail », « utiles », « personnel », « let-ferm », « fichiers-divers-bibliothèque », « tablette-livres »), un document pdf (« Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems in Translation »), un document Excel (« boites-archivage ») et quatre documents Word (« dictionnaire immobilier », « 355 Georges Perec, La vie mode d’emploi », « 37 John Edward Williams, Augustus »et « 23 Galateanu Engleza » les chiffres représentant la page où elle est avec la lecture, sauf pour Perec qu’elle vient de finir mais dont elle n’a pas encore enlevé le dernier numéro de page) ; à droite se trouve la barre de tâches du Mac avec plusieurs programmes épinglés (Safari, EasyFind, Adobe Acrobate Pro, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, iTunes); en haut s’étale la barre d’outils de Word (Fichier, Édition, Affichage, Insertion, Format, Police, Outils, Tableau, Fenêtre, Aide). Au centre, comme déjà mentionné, avec le coin droit couvert par la page Word, il y a une photo qu’elle avait prise dans sa ville natale Piatra Neamt, en Roumanie, il y deux ans : au milieu d’un beau trottoir pavé d’un jeu de grandes dalles rouges et de petites dalles jaunes, en tout premier plan, coupant l’image en deux et trahissant ainsi une profonde insouciance pour la composition ou tout simplement un manque crasse de talent photographique, se lève un pilier sur lequel sont collées quelques feuillets publicitaires. À gauche, sous une rangée d’arbres qui jettent leurs ombres dans la rue, un jeune homme vêtu d’une paire de bluejeans courts et d’un t-shirt gris qui se moule sur un ventre un peu trop rond vient de monter sur le trottoir tandis que, plus loin un couple traverse la rue dans l’autre direction. Le fond est occupé par quelques voitures parquées (rouge, noir, blanche – trop loin pourtant pour distinguer la marque) et par un grand immeuble ensoleillé (l’hôtel Ceahlaul, pour les connaisseurs). A droite, des gens se promènent à l’ombre d’un bâtiment ayant de petits magasins et d’autres institutions au rez-de-chaussée (on peut deviner une pharmacie au coin de la rue grâce à deux croix vertes, tout ce qui reste de son enseigne couvert par l’infortuné pilier et on distingue aussi l’enseigne – en roumain, mais facile à comprendre – d’un cabinet de gynécologie – « ginecologie » et analyses médicales – « analize medicale »). Un homme tenant par la main une petite fille en robe rouge s’éloigne de l’objectif, tandis qu’un jeune homme avec un t-shirt bleu sur lequel il est écrit quelque chose d’indistinct approche. Enfin, au premier plan et faisant concurrence au pilier, sa famille, toute souriante : père en chemise beige aux manches courtes, pantalon long noir et souliers beiges, fille en robe bleu marine avec un imprimé blanc, sandales beiges, sac-à-main en bandoulière et cheveux longs en dégradé, mère vêtue d’une blouse bleu foncé, pantalon noir et sandales beiges et sœur un peu en arrière, blouse blanche, pantalon bleu marine et sandales – évidemment beiges.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Richard Russo, “Empire Falls”

 – e-book

Read from March 17thto April 2nd2018
My rating:

Richard Russo’s Empire Falls reminded me of John Edward Williams’s Stoner in more ways than one – of course, it is about different events, a different narrative structure and not in the least it is written in a different style, but in the end both tell the story of a luckless, lost hero who does nothing to escape his fate and whose sense of responsibility is somehow overgrown. Moreover, both novels have a genially deceitful title, based on wordplay: “Stoner” is not a state of mind or body but simply the name of the hero and “Empire Falls” is not a historical evocation of a falling civilisation, but simply the name of the town where the action takes place. In other words, grammatically speaking that is, “stoner” is not a common noun and “falls” is not a verb. 
Nonetheless, Empire Fallsis an epic name for an epic story, but not in the sense the title a prioritricks us to think. Of course, a posteriori,you may always find a similitude between empires that fall when lives fall. From this point of view, the New England obscure town is as small as a village and as big as a country – a microcosm revealing the macrocosm. A town where nothing happens and all happens, which has its share of bad and good guys, boring or interesting, and is under the protection of a malevolent god, Francine Whiting who, (and this made me study the physiognomy of many a female colleague of mine J) “in the manner of a great many women of French Canadian ancestry, …lacked a chin, as if someone had already pinched her there.” (the original text is in italics)

Friday, 23 March 2018

Michael Shermer, „De ce cred oamenii in bazaconii. Pseudoștiință, superstiții și alte aiureli ale vremurilor noastre”

(Why People Believe Weird Things. Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time). Traducere din engleză de Anca Florescu-Mitchell.  e-book

Perioada lecturii: 4 – 17 martie 2018

Votul meu:

Nu-mi place să încep proiecte marțea. Bat în lemn să alung ghinionul, da’ nu în masă că se potrivește. Nu pun niciodată paharul jos fără să beau din el, după ce am dat noroc. Am o ușoară stare de neliniște existențială în zilele de 13 (mai ales dacă-i și marți). Nu mă duc la biserică, da’ nici nu îndrăznesc să mă declar atee – dacă Dumnezeu există totuși și mă aude? Nu mă miră deci că, de-a lungul întregii lecturi a eseului De ce cred oamenii în bazaconii, Michael Shermer mi-a vorbit cu vocea prietenei mele Nana – cu aceeași ironie, cu același umor și cu aceeași mirare amuzată în fața misterelor din mintea umană, care-i conduce uneori la raționamente absurde chiar și pe cei mai inteligenți (așa ca mine J ).

Desigur, la fel ca prietena mea Nana, care s-a priceput nu o dată să pună frîu imaginației mele cînd începea s-o ia razna, Michael Shermer e un sceptic. Iar scepticii sînt adesea priviți cu suspiciune de ceilalți, ba chiar acuzați că ar călca în picioare lucrurile sacre ale umanității, ca tradiții, eresuri, credințe. Aceasta pentru că lumea uită că, așa cum observă și Stephen Jay Gould în prefață, aceste intangibile sacralități au scos adesea la iveală monștrii din noi, conducînd la genocide, la robie și alte încălcări flagrante ale demnității umane, demnitate pe care scepticismul vrea s-o restabilească pentru că el este „agentul rațiunii împotriva iraționalului organizat... una din cheile decenței umane, sociale și civice.”

Friday, 16 March 2018

Katherine Anne Porter, „Corabia nebunilor”

– Ship of Fools. Traducerea Eugen B. Marian – e-book.

Perioada lecturii: 11 februarie – 11 martie 2018

Votul meu:

Cu toate că mama avea Corabia nebunilor a lui Katherine Anne Porter în bibliotecă de cînd eram copil (din cîte știu, o mai are încă – chiar ediția aceasta, publicată de Cartea românească în 1975 – oare  o mai fi fost reeditată?), și deși pe vremea aceea citeam cam tot ce-mi pica în mînă, nu știu de ce romanul ăsta nu m-a atras – ceva nu-mi plăcea la el, poate coperta (că titlul corespundea destul de bine orizonturilor mele de așteptare), sau poate l-oi fi răsfoit și nu mi-a plăcut stilul, nu-mi amintesc, cert este că îl citesc, iată, la mai bine de 40 de ani de la publicare și la aproape 60 de la apariția sa din 1962.

În orice caz, dacă stilul este cel care m-a făcut să-l ocolesc, trebuie să spun că intuiția mea a funcționat. Nu că nu ar merita să fie citit, de fapt, în linii mari romanul este destul de interesant,  în ciuda aerului ușor demodat și oarecum lipsit de strălucire, cauzat poate și de caracterul hibrid al scriiturii, în sens negativ, nu postmodernist: naratorul este ba omniscient ba introspectiv, preluînd vocea interioară a unuia sau a altuia dintre personaje, dar trecerea de la o ipostază narativă la alta este făcută cu o mai mare grijă pentru echilibru și simetrie decît pentru finețea tranziției (fiecare personaj trebuie să aibă timp egal de apariție, probabil pentru a nu-și putea aroga titlul de erou principal, în detrimentul celorlalte) astfel încît întreg romanul pare să ezite între o abordare modernistă sau realistă a narațiunii.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Alberto Martini, „Enigme captivante ale istoriei”

 – Editura Prietenii cărții, 1999

Perioada lecturii: 18 februarie – 4 martie 2018

Votul meu:

Eu credeam că autorii cu nume inventate și furtul de cărți sînt marca exclusivă a editurii „Alcris”, da’ văd că nici „Prietenii cărții” nu se dă în lături de la asemenea practici. Spun asta pentru că degeaba am căutat, n-am reușit să găsesc vreun autor cu numele de Alberto Martini – singura personalitate de care vorbeste Wikipedia este un pictor italian  care a preferat să ilustreze cărți, nu să le scrie.

Acum nu zic că Google le știe pe toate și mă trezesc eu să mă erijez în acuzator inflexibil doar pe baza lui, dar cartea însăși pare încropită la repezeală, adunînd  informații de pe ici și colo fără să le susțină bibliografic așa că nu știi care-s credibile și care nu. În plus se încheie abrupt, aproape în mijlocul frazei. Pe ansamblu, are aerul unui periodic de vulgarizare a științei botezat pretențios carte. Foarte neprofesional, da’ de ce mă mir, la urma urmelor, nu e decît foarte românesc 😐.