Showing posts from May, 2018

Tale of Heike

Multi Elemental Battle

By Anonymous
From Selections from Tale of Genji & Heike
Translated By Helen Craig McCullough
Japanese, (c. 1010, before 1330), 1994
Ancient Epic 

Main Attractions

1. Society Breaking Down
2. A Monk’s Pilgrimage
3. Leisurely Country Life
4. Warriors into Battle
5. Monks & Ladies, too
6. Supernatural Scenes
7.Beautiful, Timeless Philosophy
8. Many Buddhist Themes
9. Peace Amongst War
10. Moments of Sublime Beauty

Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Dessert Bar
This one is tough to rate because it could be complex with a lot of variety like a Han Jeon Shik.  But it’s atmosphere is breezy like a summer salad.  So I have to go with the variety that a Dessert Bar can provide.  Tale of Heike would be at the delicious ice cream end of the desert bar, with all the toppings to select from.  The footnotes can provide even more variety and lead to a journey into Japan’s rich literary past or the vast collection of Buddhist Scriptures that have been translated into English.  The story …

In the First Circle

Artificially Created Prison

By Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Translated By Harry T. Willetts
Russian, 1968, 2009
Semi-Autobiographical, Political

Main Attractions

1.  Logically Structured Lit.
2.  Incredibly Human Characters    
3.  Moments of Dark Humour  
4.  Intelligent, Philosophical Banter
5.  Artificially Imposed Prison Theme
6.  Scenes of Emotional Intensity
7.  A Variety of Meaningful Parables
8.  Surprisingly Comical At Times 
9.  Shockingly Little Violence  
10.  It all Leads up to the End

Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Steak
The lively, intelligent dialogue with numerous references to other great classics makes this such a joy to read.  We become attached the character then we learn about his life before prison so we become attached to him even more.  All of these scenes of a more peaceful time adds such flavour to an otherwise intellectually stimulating book.  The book is also loaded up with parables of wisdom & some brief monologues in a modern Shakespearian format.  The title is borrowe…

Cancer Ward

Discrimination Free Zone

By Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Translated By Nicolas Bethell & David Burg
Russian, 1966 (Samizdat) 1968
Semi-Autobiographical, Political

Main Attractions

1.  Emotionally charged narrative    
2.  Many characters from all walks
3.  Raises various ethical questions
4.  Confident female characters
5.  Shows men at their weakest times
6.  A few complicated relationships
7.  Some ahem, medical situations
8.  Novel’s heart is “The Old Doctor”
9.  Eye opening about humanity
10. Much healing & profound change

Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Han Jeong Shik
This single book encompasses so many facets of humanity from completely different points of view.  From the beginning, Solzhenitsyn unfolds the novel one story at a time.  We see this patient tell their opinions about medicine, then we shift to different medical staff who share theirs.  Later, Solzhenitsyn brings in the characters pasts and we see yet another point of view or it challenges our own perception of that character. …

The Will to Power

Context is Key

By Friedrich Nietzsche
Translated By Walter Kaufmann & R.J. Hollingdale
German, 1901
Philosopher’s Notebooks 

Brief Table of Contents

1.  European Nihilism
2.  Critique of Religion
3.  Critique of Morality
4.  Critique of Philosophy
5.  Will to Power as Knowledge
6.  Will to Power In Nature
7.  Will to Power & of Values
8.  Will to Power as Art
9.  Order of Rank
10. Commentary on the Facsimiles 

Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Roast Chicken Dinner
This is a collection of Nietzsche’s notebooks from 1883 to 1888.  Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a light read.  Nietzsche packed his ideas into the the densest paragraphs of wisdom that he could muster.  Many of these snippets read like an organized outline that would be used as the framework for his other philosophical works.  Kaufmann painstakingly organized them into a thematic order so they’re in a logical order based on the development of Nietzsche’s ideas and thematically as a whole.

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The Will to Power …

Tale of Genji

Leisurely, Poetic Love

By Murasaki Shikibu
From Selections from Tale of Genji & Heike
Translated By Helen Craig McCullough
Japanese, (c. 1010, before 1330), 1994
Ancient Epic 

Main Attractions

1.  Leisurely, Poetic World    
2.  Very Immersive Story
3.  Complimentary Language Style
4.  Interconnected Smaller Events
5.  Themes of Complex Relationships
6.  Varieties of Cultural Rituals
7.  Lush, Exquisite Language
8.  Moments of Shock & Humour
9.  Decadent, Wealthy Lifestyles
10. Emotional Turmoil from Everyone

Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as:  Decadent Chocolate Cheese & Cake
The sheer number of poems and highly poetic language emphasizes the artistic nature of this time period.  Princes and Courtesans will recite poetry to each other as conversation which can become well, reminiscent of a decadent chocolate cheese cake.  It’s a joy to savour these passages bit by bit rather than in a standard timeframe.  The details of Genji’s life may also come across as decadent or it could feel like on…

Constance Garnett: A Heroic Life

A Translator’s Labor of Love

By Richard Garnett Russian, 1991 Biography
Main Attractions
1.  A Grandson’s Account 2.  Snippets of Personal Letters   3.  Shares Her Family’s Lives 4.  Explores her full lifespan 5.  Goes through her Education 6.  Discover her Love of Languages 7.  Touches on her Learning Russian 8.  Details of her Translation Work 9.  Other Famous Writers Included 10. A Most Unique Marriage Life

Cuisine & Delicacies Ranked as: Hearty Veggie Burger This is a biography that gives a personal account of Constance Garnett’s life.  The writing style is quite straightforward and is organized chronologically through her entire lifespan.  We get many details of her personal life, educational background and political views.  The details of her work in translation are also very straightforward.  So I have to rank it as Hearty Veggie Burger because of the lightness of this read.  If it went more into depth of the translation aspect, giving more details on language struggles she experienced, I c…