sábado, Julho 12, 2014
I finally read the first volume of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu in French - and already ordered the second. I'm a little of a bookworm, read lots of books, and if I had to choose the BEST, it would be Proust's seven volume book. I'm reading it now for the fourth time, the first time in French, and the pleasure is always the same. Du Côté de Chez Swann is such a wonderful book. The first part, Combray, introduces one to its universe in a most delightful way; the second, Un Amour de Swann, is the best treatise on love and jealousy I ever came across, and the third makes you yearn for the next book... And reading it in French is a delight in itself, with such an elegant writing in such a beautiful language. Some people say "there's no time to read Proust in modern times". Wrong! He's timeless.
quinta-feira, Julho 10, 2014
An interesting book, not as good, in my opinion, as Cien Años de Soledad or El Amor n los Tiempos del Cólera, but still engaging. The loneliness and alienating character of dictatorship are very well depicted; the writing is a little too baroque for my taste, but I think the translator did a very good job.
quarta-feira, Junho 11, 2014
And yet, sometimes - and this book is one of those - he overdoes it, and the result sounds somewhat shallow and pretentious. Too many cultural references, too many pseudo-metaphysical, pseudo-philosophical details, a story too baroque because in the end completely meaningless. It is an entertaining read, but often annoying, and more than a couple of times I almost put it aside. So, not a very accomplished book, I think.
domingo, Maio 25, 2014
How to Live - A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer, by Sarah Bakewell
Essais in French to read it. I liked it a lot; one can see the author loves her subject, and has assimilated a lot from him - guess it's impossible to assimilate everything. A most enjoyable read, very informative, and above all capturing what I think it's the essence of Montaigne's intentions in writing. I think it's an excellent introduction to Montaigne if you never read him, and also very interesting if you already did - it makes us want to go back to it right away!
segunda-feira, Maio 19, 2014
domingo, Abril 20, 2014
I had read a few excerpts of the Essais before, and found them immensely interesting, so the last time I went to Paris I bought the three volumes of the Folio pocket edition. I was amply rewarded! Montaigne had an incredible mind - observant, lucid, curious, tolerant, kind, ironic, funny... It's incredible how modern he sounds, discussing everything, from religion, justice, the New World (in this case with a clear-mindedness centuries ahead of his time) to love, friendship, jealousy and infidelity, to eating habits, clothing, illness and traveling. Never vulgar, he writes as if he was chatting over dinner, as he says he loved to do - stating that good company and pleasant conversation were the best dishes in a dinner party - and he takes us along his train of thought easily an pleasantly. Immensely knowledgeable and cultivated, especially on the classics he loved so much and quoted often, he surprises for his tolerance and good sense, which makes us realize how timeless great minds are. And above all, one is impressed by his love of life and living, and how he seems to have been able to grasp what was really important about it, what really mattered - to live, to enjoy every moment, not to pass through life worrying about the afterlife or the problems ahead (and this was in the 16th century!), and to accept death as a natural end to it all, not to be feared since it is inevitable. Actually, his thoughts about death and dying strikes us as remarkable for the time (even today, how many people have that good sense?): if there is an afterlife, he won't mind to be in the company of all those who died before, if there isn't, then there won't be any regrets because we won't feel anything anyway.
The French he writes in is elegant yet picturesquely ancient, which adds to the pleasure of reading, even if sometimes it makes it a little harder. But even if one has to reread some sentences to apprehend its full meaning, it's never a waste of time.
All in all, a fantastic book, hope to read it again sometime. I always felt richer and more complete after each time I read a few pages each day.