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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"The Collected Novels of Jose Saramago"

"The Collected Novels of Jose Saramago"

"Single" eBook / 4,358 pages / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Boston, New York / December 2010


Introduction by: Ursula Leguin
Translated by: Margaret Jull Costa and Giovanni Pontiero

This collection, available exclusively in "eBook" form, brings together the twelve novels (and one novella) of the great Portuguese Writer Jose Saramago, with an introductory essay by Ursula Le Guin. From Saramago’s early work like the enchanting "Baltasar and Blimunda" and the controversial "Gospel According to Jesus Christ", through his masterpiece "Blindness" and its sequel "Seeing", to his later fables of politics, chance, history, and love, like "All the Names" and "Death with Interruptions", this volume showcases the range and depth of Saramago’s career, his inimitable narrative voice and his vast reserves of invention humour and understanding.

“Saramago is the most tender of writers… with a clear-eyed and compassionate acknowledgment of things as they are, and a quality that can only be termed wisdom. We should be grateful when it is handed to us in such generous measure” — New York Times

“Gateway to the Great Books” (10 Vols.)

“Gateway to the Great Books” (10 Vols.)


Associate Editor: CLIFTON FADIMAN

ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, INC. / 1990 / 10 Vols. / 5,000 pages

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“Gateway to the Great Books” is a 10-volume series of books originally published by ‘Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.’ in 1963 and edited by Mortimer Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins. The set was designed as an introduction to the “Great Books of the Western World”, published by the same organization and editors in 1952. The set included selections - short stories, plays, essays, letters, and extracts from longer works - by more than one hundred authors. The selections were generally shorter and in some ways simpler than the full-length books included in the “Great Books”.


A number of authors in the “Great Books” set - such as Plutarch, Epictetus, Tacitus, Dante, Herman Melville, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jean Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, John Stuart Mill, Francis Bacon, Charles Darwin and William James - were also represented by shorter works in the “Gateway Volumes”. And several “Gateway Readings” discussed authors in the “Great Books” series. For instance, a selection from Henry Adams’ Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres critiqued the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Indeed, many writers in the “Gateway Set” were eventually “promoted” to the Second Edition (1990) of the “Great Books”, such as Alexis de Toqueville, Molière, Henry James, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Albert Einstein and John Dewey.

Index, editorial material, criticism

The set included an index similar to the Great Books’ Syntopicon, along with reading plans of increasing difficulty. Hutchins contributed an introduction that was essentially a boiled-down version of “The Great Conversation”, his preface to the “Great Books”. The set contained biographical notes on the various authors, similar to those in the “Great Books”. However, the set also contained editorial introductions to the selections, which were generally not included in the “Great Books”. In another departure from the “Great Books Series”, the set included black-and-white drawings of most of the authors by Chicago portraitist Fred Steffen, who also wrote brief notes describing the illustrations. Details from a number of these drawings were featured on the volume covers. Although the editors maintained that many selections were appropriate to young readers, the set included a fair amount of material challenging for the most experienced reader. In what may have been a response to complaints about the cramped typography of the “Great Books”, the “Gateway Volumes” were single-column with larger, more readable type. Many of the same criticisms leveled at the “Great Books” can be made of the “Gateway Set”. The books concentrated heavily on Western European and American literature and included few selections by women or minority authors.

"The Set is now out of print".


Volume 1: Introduction; Syntopical Guide:

A letter to the reader


Syntopical guide


A plan of graded reading

Recommended novels

Recommended anthologies of poetry

Volume 2: Imaginative Literature I:

Daniel Defoe, Excerpts from Robinson Crusoe

Rudyard Kipling, “Mowgli’s Brothers” from The Jungle Book

Victor Hugo, “The Battle with the Cannon” from Ninety-Three

Guy de Maupassant, “Two Friends”

Ernest Hemingway, “The Killers” from Men Without Women

Sir Walter Scott, “The Two Drovers” from Chronicles of the Canongate

Joseph Conrad, “Youth”

Voltaire, Micromegas

Oscar Wilde, “The Happy Prince” from The Happy Prince and Other Tales

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Masque of the Red Death”

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg

Charles Dickens, “A Full and Faithful Report of the Memorable Trial of Bardell against Pickwick” from The Pickwick Papers

Nikolai Gogol, “The Overcoat”

Samuel Butler, “Customs and Opinions of the Erewhonians” from Erewhon

Sherwood Anderson, “I'm a Fool”

Anonymous, Aucassin and Nicolette

Volume 3: Imaginative Literature II:

Stephen Crane, "The Open Boat"

Herman Melville, "Billy Budd"

Ivan Bunin, "The Gentleman from San Francisco"

Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Rappaccini's Daughter"

George Eliot, "The Lifted Veil"

Lucius Apuleius, "Cupid and Psyche" from The Golden Ass

Ivan Turgenev, "First Love"

Fyodor Dostoevsky, "White Nights"

John Galsworthy, "The Apple-Tree"

Gustave Flaubert, "The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller"

F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz"

Honoré de Balzac, "A Passion in the Desert"

Anton Chekhov, "The Darling"

Isaac Singer, "The Spinoza of Market Street"

Alexander Pushkin, "The Queen of Spades"

D. H. Lawrence, "The Rocking-Horse Winner"

Henry James, "The Pupil"

Thomas Mann, "Mario and the Magician"

Isak Dinesen, "Sorrow-Acre"

Leo Tolstoy, "The Death of Ivan Ilyitch", "The Three Hermits", "What Men Live By"

Volume 4: Imaginative Literature III:

Molière, The Misanthrope, The Doctor in Spite of Himself

Richard Sheridan, The School for Scandal

Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

George Bernard Shaw, The Man of Destiny

John Synge, Riders to the Sea

Eugene O'Neill, The Emperor Jones

Volume 5: Critical Essays:

Virginia Woolf, "How Should One Read a Book?"

Matthew Arnold, "The Study of Poetry", "Sweetness and Light"

Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, "What Is a Classic?", "Montaigne"

Francis Bacon, "Of Beauty", "Of Discourse", "Of Studies"

David Hume, "Of the Standard of Taste"

Arthur Schopenhauer, "On Style", "On Some Forms of Literature", "On the Comparative Place of Interest and Beauty in Works of Art"

Friedrich Schiller, "On Simple and Sentimental Poetry"

Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"

Walt Whitman, Preface to Leaves of Grass

William Hazlitt, "My First Acquaintance with Poets", "On Swift", "Of Persons One Would Wish to Have Seen"

Charles Lamb, "My First Play", "Dream Children, a Reverie", "Sanity of True Genius"

Samuel Johnson, Preface to Shakespeare

Thomas de Quincey, Literature of Knowledge and Literature of Power", "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth"

T. S. Eliot, "Dante", "Tradition and the Individual Talent"

Volume 6: Man and Society I:

John Stuart Mill, "Childhood and Youth" from Autobiography

Mark Twain, "Learning the River" from Life on the Mississippi

Jean de la Bruyere, "Characters" from A Book of Characters

Thomas Carlyle, 'The Hero as King" from On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Thoreau"

Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Sketch of Abraham Lincoln"

Walt Whitman, "Death of Abraham Lincoln"

Virginia Woolf, "The Art of Biography"

Xenophon, "The March to the Sea" from The Persian Expedition, "The Character of Socrates" from Memorabilia

William H. Prescott, "The Land of Montezuma" from The Conquest of Mexico

Haniel Long, "The Power within Us"

Pliny the Younger, "The Eruption of Vesuvius"

Tacitus, "The Life of Gnaeus Julius Agricola"

Francois Guizot, "Civilization" from History of Civilization in Europe

Henry Adams, "The United States in 1800" from History of the United States of America

John Bagnell Bury, "Herodotus" from The Ancient Greek Historians

Lucian, "The Way to Write History"

Great Documents

The English Bill of Rights

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

The Virginia Declaration of Rights

The Declaration of Independence

Charter of the United Nations

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Thomas Paine, "A Call to Patriots - December 23, 1776"

George Washington, "Circular Letter to the Governors of All the States on Disbanding the Army", "The Farewell Address"

Thomas Jefferson, "The Virginia Constitution" from Notes on Virginia, "First Inaugural Address", "Biographical Sketches"

Benjamin Franklin, "A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge among the British Plantations in America", "Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania"

Jean de Crevecoeur, "The Making of Americans" from Letters from an American Farmer

Alexis de Tocqueville, "Observations on American Life and Government" from Democracy in America

Henry David Thoreau,"Civil Disobedience", "A Plea for Captain John Brown"

Abraham Lincoln, "Address at Cooper Institute", "First Inaugural Address", "Letter to Horace Greeley", "Meditation on the Divine Will", "The Gettysburg Address", "Second Inaugural Address", "Last Public Address".

Volume 7: Man and Society II:

Francis Bacon, "Of Youth and Age", "Of Parents and Children", "Of Marriage and Single Life", "Of Great Place", "Of Seditions and Troubles", "Of Custom and Education", "Of Followers and Friends", "Of Usury", "Of Riches"

Jonathan Swift, "Resolutions when I Come to Be Old", "An Essay on Modern Education", "A Meditation upon a Broomstick", "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country"

David Hume, "Of Refinement in the Arts", "Of Money", "Of the Balance of Trade", "Of Taxes", "Of the Study of History"

Plutarch, "Of Bashfulness"

Robert Louis Stevenson, "The Lantern-Bearers" from Across the Plains

John Ruskin, "An Idealist's Arraignment of the Age" from Four Clavigera

William James, "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings", "The Energies of Men", "Great Men and Their Environment"

Arthur Schopenhauer, "On Education"

Michael Faraday, "Observations on Mental Education"

Edmund Burke, "Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol"

John Calhoun, "The Concurrent Majority"

Thomas Babington Macaulay, "Machiavelli"

Voltaire, "English Men and Ideas" from Letters on the English

Dante, "On World Government" from De Monarchia

Jean Jacques Rousseau, "A Lasting Peace through the Federation of Europe"

Immanuel Kant, "Perpetual Peace"

Karl von Clausewitz, "What Is War?" from On War

Thomas Robert Malthus, "The Principle of Population" from Population: The First Essay

Volume 8: Natural Science:

Francis Bacon, "The Sphinx"

John Tyndall, "Michael Faraday" from Faraday as a Discoverer

Eve Curie, "The Discovery of Radium" from Madame Curie

Charles Darwin, "Autobiography"

Jean Henri Fabre, "A Laboratory of the Open Fields", "The Sacred Beetle"

Loren Eiseley, "On Time"

Rachel Carson, "The Sunless Sea" from The Sea Around Us

J. B. S. Haldane, "On Being the Right Size" from Possible Worlds

Thomas Henry Huxley, "On the Relations of Man to the Lower Animals", "On a Piece of Chalk"

Francis Galton, "The Classification of Human Ability" from Hereditary Genius

Claude Bernard, "Experimental Considerations Common to Living Things and Inorganic Bodies"

Ivan Pavlov, "Scientific Study of the So-called Psychical Processes in the Higher Animals"

Friedrich Wohler, "On the Artificial Production of Urea"

Charles Lyell, "Geological Evolution" from The Principles of Geology

Galileo, "The Starry Messenger"

Tommaso Campanella, "Arguments for and against Galileo" from The Defense of Galileo

Michael Faraday, The Chemical History of a Candle

Dmitri Mendeleev, "The Genesis of a Law of Nature" from The Periodic Law of the Chemical Elements

Hermann von Helmholtz, "On the Conservation of Force"

Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, "The Rise and Decline of Classical Physics" from The Evolution of Physics

Arthur Eddington, "The Running-Down of the Universe" from Nature and the Physical World

James Jeans, "Beginnings and Endings" from The Universe Around Us

Kees Boeke, "Cosmic View"

Volume 9: Mathematics:

Lancelot Hogben, "Mathematics, the Mirror of Civilization" from Mathematics for the Million

Andrew Russell Forsyth, "Mathematics, in Life and Thought"

Alfred North Whitehead, "On Mathematical Method", "On the Nature of a Calculus"

Bertrand Russell, "The Study of Mathematics", "Mathematics and the Metaphysicians", "Definition of Number"

Edward Kasner and James R. Newman, "New Names for Old", "Beyond the Googol"

Tobias Dantzig, "Fingerprints", "The Empty Column"

Leonhard Euler, "The Seven Bridges of Konigsberg"

Norman Robert Campbell, "Measurement", "Numerical Laws and the Use of Mathematics in Science"

William Clifford, "The Postulates of the Science of Space" from The Common Sense of the Exact Sciences

Henri Poincare, "Space", "Mathematical Creation", "Chance"

Pierre Simon de Laplace, "Probability" from A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

Charles Sanders Peirce, "The Red and the Black"

Volume 10: Philosophical Essays:

John Erskine, "The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent"

William Clifford, "The Ethics of Belief"

William James, "The Will to Believe", "The Sentiment of Rationality"

John Dewey, "The Process of Thought" from How We Think

Epicurus, "Letter to Herodotus", "Letter to Menoeceus"

Epictetus, The Enchiridion

Walter Pater, "The Art of Life" from The Renaissance

Plutarch, "Contentment"

Cicero, "On Friendship", "On Old Age"

Francis Bacon, "Of Truth", "Of Death", "Of Adversity", "Of Love", "Of Friendship", "Of Anger"

George Santayana, "Lucretius", "Goethe's Faust"

Henry Adams, "St. Thomas Aquinas" from Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres

Voltaire, "The Philosophy of Common Sense"

John Stuart Mill, "Nature"

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature", "Self-Reliance", "Montaigne; or, the Skeptic"

William Hazlitt, "On the Feeling of Immortality in Youth"

Thomas Browne, "Immortality" from Urn-Burial

ULYSSES ~ James Joyce

ULYSSES ~ James Joyce

Planet PDF; 1305 pages

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One of the most important works of Modernist literature, it has been called "a demonstration and summation of the entire movement". Ulysses totals about 265,000 words from a vocabulary of 30,030 words (including proper names, plurals and various verb tenses), divided into 18 "episodes". Since publication, the book attracted controversy and scrutiny, ranging from early obscenity trials to protracted textual "Joyce Wars." Ulysses' stream-of-consciousness technique, careful structuring, and experimental prose — full of puns, parodies, and allusions — as well as its rich characterizations and broad humour, made the book a highly regarded novel in the Modernist pantheon. In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Ulysses first on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.



Vintage Books / Translated by: Jay Rubin / 1997 / 364 pp

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Bad things come in threes for Toru Okada. He loses his job, his cat disappears, and then his wife fails to return from work. His search for his wife (and his cat) introduces him to a bizarre collection of characters, including two psychic sisters, a possibly unbalanced teenager, an old soldier who witnessed the massacres on the Chinese mainland at the beginning of the Second World War, and a very shady politician. Haruki Murakami is a master of subtly disturbing prose. Mundane events throb with menace, while the bizarre is accepted without comment. Meaning always seems to be just out of reach, for the reader as well as for the characters, yet one is drawn inexorably into a mystery that may have no solution. "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" is an extended meditation on themes that appear throughout Murakami's earlier work. The tropes of popular culture, movies, music, detective stories, combine to create a work that explores both the surface and the hidden depths of Japanese society at the end of the 20th century. If it were possible to isolate one theme in "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle", that theme would be "responsibility". The atrocities committed by the Japanese army in China keep rising to the surface like a repressed memory, and Toru Okada himself is compelled by events to take responsibility for his actions and struggle with his essentially passive nature. If Toru is supposed to be a Japanese Everyman, steeped as he is in Western popular culture, and ignorant of the secret history of his own nation, this novel paints a bleak picture. Like the winding-up of the titular bird, Murakami slowly twists the gossamer threads of his story into something of considerable weight.



Translated by Maureen Freely / Alfred A. Knopf / 2009 / 328 pp

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Nobel laureate Pamuk's latest novel is a soaring, detailed and laborious mausoleum of love. During Istanbul's tumultuous 1970s, Kemal Bey, 30-year-old son of an upper-class family, walks readers through a lengthy catalogue of trivial objects, which, though seeming mundane, hold memories of his life's most intimate, irretrievable moments. The main focus of Kemal's peculiar collection of earrings, ticket stubs and drinking glasses is beloved Fusun, his onetime paramour and longtime unrequited love. An 18-year-old virginal beauty, modest shop-girl and poor distant relation, Fusun enters Kemal's successful life just as he is engaged to Sibel, a very special, very charming, very lovely girl. Though levelheaded Sibel provides Kemal compassionate relief from their social strata's rising tensions, it is the fleeting moments with fiery, childlike Fusun that grant conflicted Kemal his deepest peace. The poignant truth behind Kemal's obsession is that his museum provides a closeness with Fusun he'll never regain. Though its incantatory middle suffers from too many indistinguishable quotidian encounters, this is a masterful work.

“In Cold Blood” ~ Truman Capote

“In Cold Blood” ~ Truman Capote

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On November 15, 1959, in Holcomb, Kansas, the four members of the Clutter family were dragged from their beds in the early hours of the morning and tied up. All four were shot in the head with a shotgun at close range. None survived. The killers left few clues, and there was no apparent motive for the slayings.

On assignment from the New Yorker, author Truman Capote, along with his assistant Nell Harper Lee, traveled to Holcomb in late 1959 to investigate the killings for an article. The article was completed, but still Capote remained in Holcomb. He conducted interviews with every person in town; he poured over police records and statements. Once the killers, drifters Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, were caught and sentenced, he even interviewed them on Death Row. The "Clutter killings" became an obsession for him; and that obsession turned into a book that would become a literary milestone, that would single-handedly introduce a new genre to the literary world: the non-fiction novel. He called his piece of creative non-fiction IN COLD BLOOD, and it so consumed him that it would be the last thing he would ever write.

In most true crime books that are written today, the evidence is presented straightforwardly, unemotionally; the facts are dry and textbook-like. Such is not the case with IN COLD BLOOD. Capote’s prose is mesmerizing. His descriptions of Holcomb and its inhabitants are vivid and lively. His research is impeccable, presented flawlessly, lushly, sweeping the reader away on waves of vibrant language.

And his imagery is heartbreaking: Nancy Clutter teaching a neighbor to make a cherry pie, Dick Hickock deliberately hitting a dog on the highway, the Clutters’ old mare standing alone in an overgrown pasture. With startling empathy, Capote transports his readers to the Holcomb, Kansas, of late 1959: We feel the tension and sorrow clouding the town; we watch as the police nearly crumble under the weight of their investigation; we are with Dick and Perry as they flee across the United States to Mexico, leaving a trail of bounced checks in their wake, and we are with them in their cells on Death Row. We are right there the whole time, from the day before the Clutters are killed to the day after their murderers are executed. And Capote is unflinching; he keeps us there, even when the honesty of his prose makes us uncomfortable, even when we can’t imagine reading on, but somehow can’t seem to stop.

And this is the genius of IN COLD BLOOD: It is a violent, unflinching account, sorrowful beyond belief (and made even more so because it’s true); but, in the hands of a master like Capote, it’s really hard to stop reading about this unfortunate family and their motiveless, pathetic murderers. This book would make you sad, it would make you shiver; but you would be glad you read it.

Italo Calvino ~ "Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories"

Italo Calvino ~ "Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories"

PUBLISHED BY : ALFRED A. KNOPF, CANADA / Translation by : Tim Parks
1995 / 300 pp

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The Man Who Shouted Teresa, The Flash, Making Do, Dry River, Conscience, Solidarity, The Black Sheep, Good for Nothing, Like a Flight of Ducks, Love Far from Home, Wind in a City, The Lost Regiment, Enemy Eyes, A General in the Library, The Workshop Hen, Numbers in the Dark, The Queen’s Necklace, Becalmed in the Antilles, The Tribe with Its Eyes on the Sky, Nocturnal Soliloquy of a Scottish Nobleman, A Beautiful March Day.


World Memory, Beheading the Heads, The Burning of the Abominable House, The Petrol Pump, Neanderthal Man, Montezuma, Before You Say ‘Hello’, Glaciation, The Call of the Water, The Mirror - the Target, The Other Eurydice, The Memoirs of Casanova, Henry Ford, The Last Channel, Implosion, Nothing and Not Much.

~ This collection of ‘fictions’ from across Calvino’s career makes a stunning testament to his genius. Calvino’s ‘stories’ (for want of a better word, because he plays with many forms) range wildly, from the fabular to the faux-political tract to the dazzlingly metaphorical to the frankly recollected. They all convince. Their brevity means even the shortest attention span can enjoy. ~

~ ‘Product’ of a brilliant mind: this engaging collection of stories shows Calvino’s versatility. playfully absurd fables, mind-bending exercises in combinatorics, "interviews" with somewhat deranged historical figures, glaciation interrupting a romantic encounter, an encyclopedia of all human knowledge... these ideas and more are all expressed with humour, economy and wonderful style. ~

Margaret Atwood ~ "Dancing Girls and Other Stories"

Margaret Atwood ~ "Dancing Girls and Other Stories"

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This splendid volume of short fiction testifies to Margaret Atwood’s startlingly original voice, full of a rare intensity and exceptional intelligence. Her men and women still mis-communicate, still remain separate in different rooms, different houses, or even different worlds. With brilliant flashes of fantasy, humour, and unexpected violence, the stories reveal the complexities of human relationships and bring to life characters who touch us deeply, evoking terror and laughter, compassion and recognition - and dramatically demonstrate why Margaret Atwood is one of the most important writers in English today.

Atwood’s short stories are shocking, vibrant glances at some of her most interesting people. The stories in this collection were published in many journals, from the prestigious Harper’s to the rarified journals like “Fiddlehead” and “The Malahat Review”. Because many of these pieces were published in smaller journals, they’ve not been widely read. If you see yourself as an Atwood buff, you need this book to complete your collection.

Stories in “Dancing Girls”:

The War in the Bathroom
The Man from Mars
Under Glass
The Grave of the Famous Poet
Rape Fantasies
Hair Jewellery
When It Happens
A Travel Piece
The Resplendent Quetzal
Lives of the Poets
Dancing Girls
Giving Birth

“Encyclopedia Of Feminist Literature (Literary Movements)”

Mary Ellen Snodgrass, “Encyclopedia Of Feminist Literature (Literary Movements)”

Facts on File | 2006 | 785 pp |

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An accessible one-volume encyclopedia, this addition to the Literary Movements series is a comprehensive reference guide to the history and development of feminist literature, from early fairy tales to works by great women writers of today. Hundreds of informative A-to-Z entries cover a wide range of works and writers from around the world, as well as a range of genres, including novels, short stories, poetry, plays, and criticism. Focusing on the feminist works and writers that most often appear in high school and college curricula, "Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature" is the definitive resource for this movement. Its coverage includes writers such as Willa Cather, George Eliot, Helen Keller, Anais Nin, and Gloria Steinem; works such as "The Bell Jar", "The Feminist Mystique", "Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman", and "The Woman Warrior", characters such as Cinderella, Hester Prynne, and the Wife of Bath; and much more.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Modern Arabic Fiction - An Anthology"

Edited by: Salma Khadra Jayyusi
Columbia University Press • New York
2010 / 1,080 pages

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Beginning with the late-nineteenth-century cultural resurgence and continuing through the present day, short stories and novels have given voice to the personal and historical experiences of modern Arabs. This anthology offers a rich and diverse selection of works from more than one hundred and sixty prominent Arab writers of fiction. The collection reflects Arab writers' formal inventiveness as well as their intense exploration of various dimensions of modern Arab life, including the impact of modernity, the rise of the oil economy, political authoritarianism, corruption, religion, poverty, and the Palestinian experience in modern times. Salma Khadra Jayyusi, a renowned scholar of Arabic literature, has included short stories and excerpts from novels from authors in every Arab country. "Modern Arabic Fiction" contains writings stretching from the pioneering work of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century authors to the novels of Naguib Mahfouz and the stories of contemporary Arab writers. In addition to familiar names such as Mahfouz, the anthology presents excerpts from writers well known in the Arab world but just beginning to find an audience in the West, including early twentieth century Christian Lebanese writer Jurji Zaydan, whose historical epics were eye-openers for generations of Arab readers to the achievements of medieval Islamic civilization; Yusuf Idris's complex and brilliant portrait of Egypt's poor; Abd al-Rahman Muneef's searing exploration of the ecological and social impact of oil production; Palestinian writer Jabra Ibrahim Jabra's sophisticated description of the dilemma's of modern Arab intellectuals; and Jamal al-Ghitani's impressive employment of mythical time and the continuity of the past in the present. Jayyusi provides biographical information on the writers as well as a substantial and illuminating introduction to the development of modern Arabic fictional genres that considers the central thematic and aesthetic concerns of Arab short story writers and novelists.

Naguib Mahfouz ~ "Palace Walk"

_Translated by
William Maynard Hutchins and Olive E. Kenny_

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This first volume in the 1988 Nobel Prize winner's "Cairo Trilogy" describes the disintegrating family life of a tyrannical, prosperous merchant, his timid wife and their rebellious children in post-WW I Egypt. "Mahfouz is a master at building up dramatic scenes and at portraying complex characters in depth," lauded PW.

This extraordinary novel provides a close look into Cairo society at the end of World War I. Mahfouz's vehicle for this examination is the family of al-Sayyid Ahmad, a middle-class merchant who runs his family strictly according to the Qur'an and directs his own behavior according to his desires. Consequently, while his wife and two daughters remain cloistered at home, and his three sons live in fear of his harsh will, al-Sayyid Ahmad nightly explores the pleasures of Cairo. Written by the first Arabic writer to win the Nobel Prize, "Palace Walk" begins Mahfouz's highly acclaimed "Cairo Trilogy," which follows Egypt's development from 1917 to nationalism and Nasser in the 1950s. This novel's enchanting style and sweeping social tapestry ensure a large audience...

Margaret Atwood ~"Oryx and Crake"

~ a division of Random House, Inc.

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In "Oryx and Crake", a science fiction novel that is more Swift than Heinlein, more cautionary tale than "fictional science" (no flying cars here), Margaret Atwood depicts a near-future world that turns from the merely horrible to the horrific, from a fool's paradise to a bio-wasteland. Snowman (a man once known as Jimmy) sleeps in a tree and just might be the only human left on our devastated planet. He is not entirely alone, however, as he considers himself the shepherd of a group of experimental, human-like creatures called the Children of Crake. As he scavenges and tends to his insect bites, Snowman recalls in flashbacks how the world fell apart.

While the story begins with a rather ponderous set-up of what has become a clichéd landscape of the human endgame, littered with smashed computers and abandoned buildings, it takes on life when Snowman recalls his boyhood meeting with his best friend Crake: "Crake had a thing about him even then... He generated awe... in his dark laconic clothing." A dangerous genius, Crake is the book's most intriguing character. Crake and Jimmy live with all the other smart, rich people in the Compounds - gated company towns owned by Biotech Corporations. (Ordinary folks are kept outside the gates in the chaotic "pleeblands.") Meanwhile, beautiful Oryx, raised as a child prostitute in Southeast Asia, finds her way to the West and meets Crake and Jimmy, setting up an inevitable love triangle. Eventually Crake's experiments in Bioengineering cause humanity's shockingly quick demise (with uncanny echoes of SARS, ebola, and mad cow disease), leaving Snowman to try to pick up the pieces. There are a few speed bumps along the way, including some clunky dialogue and heavy-handed symbols such as Snowman's broken watch, but once the bleak narrative gets moving, as Snowman sets out in search of the Laboratory that seeded the world's destruction, it clips along at a good pace, with a healthy dose of wry humor.

Friday, May 28, 2010

“The Joke” ~ Milan Kundera

“The Joke” ~ Milan Kundera

Publisher: Harper Perennial; Publication Date: 1993-04-14

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All too often, this novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now, a quarter century after, “The Joke” was first published and several years after the collapse of the Soviet-imposed Czechoslovak regime, it becomes easier to put such implications into perspective in favour of valuing the book (and all Kundera’s work) as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of “human existence”.

The present edition presents English-language readers an important further means toward revaluation of “The Joke”. For reasons he describes in his Author’s Note, Milan Kundera devoted much time to creating (with the assistance of his American publisher-editor) a completely revised translation that reflects his original as closely as any translation possibly can: reflects it in its fidelity not only to the words and syntax but also to the characteristic dictions and tonalities of the novel’s narrators. The result is nothing less than the restoration of a classic.

Monday, May 17, 2010

J.M. Coetzee ~ “Age of Iron”

J.M. Coetzee ~ “Age of Iron”

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~ Harsh, unflinching and powerful, Coetzee’s new novel is a cry of moral outrage at the legacy that apartheid has created in South Africa. In scenes of stunning ferocity, he depicts the unequal warfare waging between the two races, a conflict in which the balance of power is slowly shifting. An elderly woman's letters to her daughter in America make up the narrative. Near death from rapidly advancing cancer, Cape Town resident Mrs. Curren is a retired university professor and political liberal who has always considered herself a “good person” in deploring the government’s brutal policies, though she has been insulated from the barbarism they produce. When the teenage son of her housekeeper is murdered by the police and his activist friend is also shot by security forces, Mrs. Curren realizes that “now my eyes are open and I can never close them again.” The only person to whom she can communicate her anguished feelings of futility and waste is an alcoholic derelict whom she prevails on to be her messenger after her death, by mailing the packet of her letters to her daughter. In them she records the rising tide of militancy among young blacks; brave, defiant and vengeful, they are a generation whose hearts have turned to iron. His metaphors in service to a story that moves with the implacability of a nightmare, Coetzee’s own urgent message has never been so cogently delivered. ~

J.M. Coetzee ~ “Disgrace”

J.M. Coetzee ~ “Disgrace”

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~ David Lurie is hardly the hero of his own life, or anyone else’s. At 52, the protagonist of “Disgrace” is at the end of his professional and romantic game, and seems to be deliberately courting disaster. Long a professor of modern languages at Cape Town University College, he has recently been relegated to adjunct professor of communications at the same institution, now pointedly renamed Cape Technical University:

Although he devotes hours of each day to his new discipline, he finds its first premise, as enunciated in the Communications 101 handbook, preposterous: “Human society has created language in order that we may communicate our thoughts, feelings and intentions to each other.” His own opinion, which he does not air, is that the origins of speech lie in song, and the origins of song in the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul.

Twice married and twice divorced, his magnetic looks on the wane, David rather cruelly seduces one of his students, and his conduct unbecoming is soon uncovered. In his eighth novel, J.M. Coetzee might have been content to write a searching academic satire. But in “Disgrace” he is intent on much more, and his art is as uncompromising as his main character, though infinitely more complex. Refusing to play the public-repentance game, David gets himself fired - a final gesture of contempt. Now, he thinks, he will write something on Byron’s last years. Not empty, unread criticism, “prose measured by the yard,” but a libretto. To do so, he heads for the Eastern Cape and his daughter’s farm. In her mid-20s, Lucy has turned her back on city sophistications: with five hectares, she makes her living by growing flowers and produce and boarding dogs. “Nothing,” David thinks, “could be more simple.” But nothing, in fact, is more complicated - or, in the new South Africa, more dangerous. Far from being the refuge he has sought, little is safe in Salem. Just as David has settled into his temporary role as farm-worker and unenthusiastic animal-shelter volunteer, he and Lucy are attacked by three black men. Unable to protect his daughter, David’s disgrace is complete. Hers, however, is far worse.

There is much more to be explored in Coetzee’s painful novel, and few consolations. It would be easy to pick up on his title and view “Disgrace” as a complicated working-out of personal and political shame and responsibility. But the author is concerned with his country’s history, brutalities, and betrayals. Coetzee is also intent on what measure of soul and rights we allow animals. After the attack, David takes his role at the shelter more seriously, at last achieving an unlikely home and some measure of love. In Coetzee’s recent Princeton lectures, “The Lives of Animals”, an aging novelist tells her audience that the question that occupies all lab and zoo creatures is, “Where is home, and how do I get there?” David, though still all-powerful compared to those he helps dispose of, is equally trapped, equally lost.

Disgrace is almost willfully plain. Yet it possesses its own lean, heartbreaking lyricism, most of all in its descriptions of unwanted animals. At the start of the novel, David tells his student that poetry either speaks instantly to the reader, “a flash of revelation and a flash of response” - or not at all. Coetzee’s book speaks differently, its layers and sadnesses endlessly unfolding. ~

The Black Book ~ Orhan Pamuk

Snow ~ Orhan Pamuk

Istanbul: Memories and the City ~ Orhan Pamuk

My Name Is Red ~ Orhan Pamuk

1Q84 Book 1 ~ Haruki Murakami

1q84 Book 2 ~ Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words ~ Jay Rubin

Murakami Diary 2009 ~ Haruki Murakami

After Dark (Vintage International) ~ Haruki Murakami

When Nietzsche Wept ~ Irvin D. Yalom

Kafka on the Shore ~ Haruki Murakami

Norwegian Wood ~ Haruki Murakami

Life and Times of Michael K: A Novel ~ J. M. Coetzee

Milan Kundera and Feminism: Dangerous Intersections ~ John O'Brien

Slowness: A Novel ~ Milan Kundera

Borges and His Fiction: A Guide to His Mind and Art ~ Gene H. Bell-Villada

Borges: A Life ~ Edwin Williamson

Collected Fictions ~ Borges

Labyrinths ~ Borges

Baltasar and Blimunda ~ Jose Saramago

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ ~ Jose Saramago

Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday ~ Italo Calvino

The Baron in the Trees ~ Italo Calvino

J.S. Bach: The Art of Fugue

What is /Library of Babel/ {in the process of "being built"} ?

A Digital or Virtual LIBRARY comprising of Free "eBooks" ~ Articles ~ Discussions ~ Posts ~ Links ~ Photos ~ Videos about "AUTEUR" Films ~ FICTION ~ Poetry ~ Arts & Literature ~ Theatre ~ Philosophy ~ Psychology ~ Music ~ Science ~ Culture etc.

Interests: Schizophrenia, Metaphysics, Existentialism, Autism... Andrzej Tarkovsky... Ingmar Bergman... Fyodor Dostoevsky, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Milan Kundera... M.D. Ramanathan, Kumar Gandharva... J.S. Bach, Wagner...

/Library of Babel/ {in the process of "being built"}

~ The {Title} is taken from Borges' {The Library at Babel} ~

Borges' "The Library at Babel" is a story that encompasses a world. The world that is a library, a library that is a universe broken into endless hexagons connected by stairs and hallways. It's unlike any library that has ever existed, a library of the mind, a virtual library, and as such the source of imaginative illustration. I've encountered pictures of its hexagonal galleries and infinite air shafts on Web Sites, and recently the story was re-published in hardcover with engravings by Erik Desmazieres, who gave the Library's interior a spooky look that I associate with the interiors of Ridley Scott's 1979 science-fiction. Many, of course, would choose to interpret the story in a more philosophical manner. Certainly a case can be made to see the story as a parable about man's search for God, or man's essential ignorance of the world, or of the chaos of the universe. While I acknowledge the story's visual and philosophical qualities, it has a personal connection. It evokes what I would call the large-library experience. Borges' nameless librarian, an administrator of some minor sort - if the library is infinite, all administrators are minor - recollects, "Like all men of the library, I have traveled in my youth, I have wandered in search of a book." Reading this, I think of my own rambles through stacks and shelves both as a student and an unattached "scholar." I've wandered through libraries looking for or just at books, feeling their collective weight, reading titles, puzzling at the cipher of numbers and letters by which they are classified. I have been lost in corridors of books like one drifting through the pinched streets of some foreign town, though indeed these rambles have taken part in and around my home. Books as realia have been part of this attraction. Strolling between shelves of bound volumes, I feel I'm pressed between the scales of some vast and dormant beast. Opened, each book presents a small bracket of hard space and distilled experience that, when joined in imagination with other books, create the sensation of time congealed. Books in vast quantities form a reality greater than the sum of their parts. Unlike museums, whether of science or art, that enfold me in a history of eras and schools and "movements," large libraries point beyond their realia. They go from the tangible to the intangible, from the temporal to the timeless, from the momentary to the eternal. Masses of books suggest the infinite. - Garrett Rowlan

/Library of Babel/ {in the process of "being built"} is dedicated to:

My Eternal Lover & Mentor ~
"Jorge Luis Borges"

/Library Ticket/

I've travelled the World twice over,

Met the famous: Saints and Sinners,

Poets and Artists, Kings and Queens,

Old stars and hopeful Beginners,

I've been where no-one's been before,

Learned secrets from Writers
and Cooks,

All with one "Library Ticket",

To the wonderful World of books.


The movement of atoms is eternal.

Thrown through the void,
either by their own weight
or by the impact of other atoms,
they wander
until chance brings them together.

Some of them manage to cling together;
they form the most solid bodies.

more mobile,
are separated by a greater distance;
they form the less dense bodies,
air and light.

Some did not wish to be admitted to any group;
they move around gloriously and endlessly in space,
like dust motes lit up by rays of light in a dark room.

[from Lucretius' De Rerum Natura, recited by Rousseau in La vallée close]

~ This seemingly simple poetry reminds us that every work of Art is relative to the Grand Time wherein it was sprout, and is to be judged thus. We won't/ might not hold a good opinion when we read and consider these lines now, after two decades of Stephen Hawking and 'A Brief History of Time'. This poem was written in First Century BC, by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius. Now, do we ought to re-think and re-consider our opinion? Epicurean Physics, atomism, the nature of the mind and soul, explanations of sensation and thought, the development of the world and its phenomena, a variety of celestial and terrestrial phenomena, arguments about God, Lucretius' Physics - everything is here, in these simple lines of poetry ~

Concept & Design: