In a world dominated by American, or at least Anglo-American, popular culture, successful exceptions are encouraging. Especially if they’re healthy exceptions too. A surprising such counter-instance to cultural Americanization is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic Le Petit Prince. Far better literary analysts… Read More ›
Clarke, Susanna: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. London: Bloomsbury, 2004. ISBN 978-0747579885. Vast in scope & admirably written, this book rejuvenated European speculative fiction. 2 rival magicians battle Napoleon & each other in a cruelly exquisite mock-Austen Regency England. I give *****/5…. Read More ›
Conrad, Joseph. Lord Jim. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002, 2008 (1900). ISBN 978-0199536023. The epitome of colonial & maritime literature. Dishonoured by cowardice at sea, Jim lands in an obscure micro-state, momentarily lifting a tribe from misery until his demons catch… Read More ›
Voltaire. Micromégas, Zadig, Candide. Paris: GF Flammarion, 1994, 2006. ISBN 978-2080712936. 3 tales. Far most forceful & glorious is Candide, presciently written near the time of Voltaire’s own move to Ferney. Micromégas is also worth a read as early science-fiction. I give *****/5.
Riemen, Rob. Nobility of Spirit: A Forgotten Ideal. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2009. ISBN 978-0300158533. Personal & different reaffirmation of European Humanism. All of this short book is worth reading, but it’s the “Prelude” which is spectacular. I give… Read More ›
Diderot, Denis. Le Neveu de Rameau, in Contes & Romans. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. Paris: Gallimard, 2004. ISBN 978-2080701435. Enlightenment thought was not all naïveté. Diderot exposes the dark underbelly of his age in this tearing portrait of a man gifted, yet… Read More ›
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Kidnapped. London: Penguin Classics, 2007 (1886).ISBN 978-0141441795. Excellent maritime adventure story, which morphs into a superlative recreation of the politics & culture of a bygone Scotland. I rate it ****/5.
Lovecraft, HP. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Telford, UK: Creation Oneiros, 2008 (1943). ISBN 978-1902197258. Magnificently repulsive. Much on the ancient layout & shipping of Providence, RI, one of the early European settlements in North America. I rate it… Read More ›
Jacobsen, Jens Peter. Niels Lyhne. Trans Tiina Nunnally. Penguin Classics. London: Penguin, 2007 (Copenhagen, 1880). ISBN 978-0143039815. (Original Danish edition: ISBN 978-8721029005.) Classic novel on the challenge for a still constrained Nordic culture in absorbing Europe’s expansive ideals. Even better in the… Read More ›