dirac

What are you reading?

397 posts in this topic

I am reading 'The Dragon's Trail' by Joanna Pitman. It is the biography of a painting--Raphael's 'St. George and the Dragon' which I believe is at the National Gallery in Washington.
atm711, on a slightly similar line, you might be interested in Vanora Bennett, Portrait of an Unknown Woman. The starting point if Holbein's famous portrait of Sir Thomas More and his family. The story is told by More's daughter Meg, and combines her personal experiences with the pollitical/religous stresses of Henry VIII's divorce and church reformation.

The book capitalizes on two trends in publishing today: (a) everybody loves a story about the Tudors, and (b) novels reinterpreting historical events through the eyes of intelligent, brave, thoughtful women.

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I just finished reading "The Unmaking of a Dancer. An Unconventional life" by Joan Brady. It's a refreshing light book in where Ms. Brady, a former ballet student at the San Francisco Ballet School and later at the School of American Ballet in New York, describes her struggling truncated attempts at becoming a professional dancer within the Balanchine's company. It's worthy to note her interesting portrays of some of her former teachers, well known personalities within the ballet world, including Balanchine himself, Lew and Harold Christensen, Anatole Oboukhoff, Pierre Vladimiroff, Mme. Felia Doubrowska, Mme. Alexandra Danilova :clapping: , Mme. Rosella Hightower and others. Without trying to be too pretentions, Ms. Brady manages to let the non expert reader feel that that the mantra "everything is beautiful in ballet" can be left open to discussion...

:thumbsup:

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I just finished reading "The Unmaking of a Dancer. An Unconventional life" by Joan Brady. It's a refreshing light book in where Ms. Brady, a former ballet student at the San Francisco Ballet School and later at the School of American Ballet in New York, describes her struggling truncated attempts at becoming a professional dancer within the Balanchine's company. It's worthy to note her interesting portrays of some of her former teachers, well known personalities within the ballet world, including Balanchine himself, Lew and Harold Christensen, Anatole Oboukhoff, Pierre Vladimiroff, Mme. Felia Doubrowska, Mme. Alexandra Danilova :bow: , Mme. Rosella Hightower and others. Without trying to be too pretentions, Ms. Brady manages to let the non expert reader feel that that the mantra "everything is beautiful in ballet" can be left open to discussion...

:tiphat:

I like the book too, cubanmiamiboy, although I’m not sure I’d characterize it as ‘light’ reading. We had a thread devoted to the book in the Writings on Ballet forum some time ago, and I’m going to copy and paste your own post to it, as it’s a thread worth reviving. As you'll see, this book excites strong opinions for and against. Thanks!

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I'm now reading "A History of the World in 6 Glasses" by Tom Standage.

Its quite an interesting take on world history, starting off with beer in the neolithic, then moving on to how wine became important in the classical period. I'm now on the section on spirits, and the part rum played in the slave trade.

Very interesting. My only criticism so far is the use of BCE/CE for dating rather than the traditional BC/AD dating scheme.

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I am midway through Walter Kaufmann's translation of Goethe's Faust. It has the German text on the left page, and the English translation on the right. The poetic beauty is incredible!

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I am midway through Walter Kaufmann's translation of Goethe's Faust. It has the German text on the left page, and the English translation on the right.
Now that's a great idea! It would be a real help when, for instance, one can read a foreign-language newspaper or business report but lack the experience, subtlety, command of nuance, and specialized vocabulary to read a great sustained work of art. Having the translation there would enable you to go immediately to the original. What a remarkable experience that must be.

I wish there were more such publications. (Or, maybe there are, and I just don't know about them.)

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I wish there were more such publications. (Or, maybe there are, and I just don't know about them.)

I think there are quite a few such publications of poems. I know (and own) poetry books which have Hebrew original and English translation and others which have the English original and Hebrew translation.

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I've seen the same with French/English and Spanish/English, but so long ago I can't remember exactly which novels.

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I'm working my way through a mountainous coffee table/historical book about ancient Egypt, but at the same time I'm also reading "Beloved." And I'm going to say something unpopular, but I find Toni Morrison's style of writing to be somewhat irritating at times.

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"Beloved." And I'm going to say something unpopular, but I find Toni Morrison's style of writing to be somewhat irritating at times.

I know others who don't like her so much, but I thought 'Beloved' one of the most moving novels I ever read. She even used a phrase 'dappled treelight' that I had used in a published work and thought was original with me, but she had written it first! I mean, gimme a break, that was a pretty rarefied term. I thought the movie was truly excellent too, and I rarely find a screen adaptation of a novel I've loved very impressive, although two have actually improved a book IMHO.

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I'm reading Paulo Coelho's "Veronika decides to die". I also had read from him "Eleven minuts". In "Veronika..." Coelho writes about the meaning of madness over its main character, Veronika, a young girl who attempts to commit suicide. He also celebrate individuals who, like her, don't fit into patterns considered to be "normal" by society.

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The last books I read are not worth mentioning because they were yummy murder mysteries that made a round trip cross country flight bareable...however, what makes me the happiest is Saturday mornings with the NY Times with the Sunday sections. I start off with the real estate section, to make sure my apartment is still worth something, then read Arts, Magazine, Book Review...until I am finished. I lay on the couch with my iced-coffee. My cat is on top of me and my kids are out of the house. This is heaven and this is what I love.

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I start off with the real estate section, to make sure my apartment is still worth something,
You too!? I bet we're in a rather big company. :)

Am currently finishing The Kingdom of the Wicked, Anthony Burgess's take on the first generation of Christianity. It's intelligent and witty, like all Burgess's books, and strangely moving in its characterization of the generation of Peter, Paul, etc., and those people on whom they had an impact.

Next up, Joseph Kanon, The Good German. Something that caught my eye after finishing Brigitte Hamann's fascinating, depressing, thought-provoking biography of Winifred Wagner. After picking up Kanon's book at the library, I learned that it had been turned into much-reviewed film of last season. With George Clooney! How did I manage to miss that?

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When it comes to fiction I like to concentrate on the classics, so at the moment I'm rereading "Moby Dick," and reading "To the Lighthouse" aloud with my wife, which we'll discuss in a book group. For non-fiction I just reread Garrison Keillor's "Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts from the Heart of America," and am now beginning British philosopher Roger Scruton's "The Meaning of Conservatism." Very slowly and sporadically I've been working my way though "Legends of Modernity: Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland," by Czeslaw Milosz, one of my favorite poets. In the same fashion I've been rereading and rereading Alan Jacobs' "What Became of Wystan: Change and Continuity in Auden's Poetry." And for a few minutes before bedtime at night I usually dip into Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations."

Earlier this summer I loved Martin Duberman's "The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein" and Carolyn Brown's memoir, "Chance and Circumstance." Oh, and I just devoured "Straight Life," the remarkably frank autobiography of the great bebop saxophonist Art Pepper.

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The last books I read are not worth mentioning because they were yummy murder mysteries that made a round trip cross country flight bearable...however, what makes me the happiest is Saturday mornings with the NY Times with the Sunday sections. I start off with the real estate section, to make sure my apartment is still worth something, then read Arts, Magazine, Book Review...until I am finished. I lay on the couch with my iced-coffee. My cat is on top of me and my kids are out of the house. This is heaven and this is what I love.

I like spending my Sunday mornings -- well, afternoons, I am not an early riser -- with the Times. Rather like Cliff and Jimmy at the curtain rise of the first act of Look Back in Anger, only my afternoon is pleasanter. :)

Thanks for posting, everyone. Keep them coming.

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Has anyone read the new Einstein bio? I am interested in reading it, but haven't gotten around to it..yet.

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I like spending my Sunday mornings -- well, afternoons, I am not an early riser -- with the Times. Rather like Cliff and Jimmy at the curtain rise of the first act of Look Back in Anger, only my afternoon is pleasanter. :clapping:

who's doing the ironing?

--back to topic---I am currently reading Duberman's bio of Kirstein and loving every page of it---I admire his writing style and will surely look into his other books.

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I picked up Chopin's Funeral (by Benita Eisler). It's very interesting, and from an analysis standpoint, does have an intriguing way of describing Chopin's life, through his death and funeral...but already, I can tell that Ms. Eisler does not harbor any liking for George Sand. Is there a book that actually puts Sand in a normal and not a "femme fatale" perspective?

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I don't know of any novels about her or featuring her, but you might check out the film Impromptu, about the circle around Chopin/ Lizst/ Musset/ Delacroix etc. Judy Davis is a wonderful Sand, and comes close to the way I imagined the actual woman to be (in her more outre moods, at least). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102103/

For images of the woman at home, and during her long literary life post-Chopin, you may possibly have to check references in the literary journals, etc., of the day. The Goncourts, for example.

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Is there a book that actually puts Sand in a normal and not a "femme fatale" perspective?

Ates Orga's "Chopin: his life and times" treats her sympathetically, and then there is her own "Story of My Life: The Autobiography of George Sand."

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I just finished William Gibson's 'Spook Country' last night. Quite admirable, and useful as a kind of technology manual for navigating the streets and new virtual mazes better. After about 250 pages, in which you thought you were really reading a truly fine novel, it begins to weaken steadily and become repetitious, with mostly cartoon-like characters, and it ends so anticlimactically you are literally astonished, having been given to think that all manner of sinister everything was going to happen. I can't see what the fuss over this one is beyond amazing precious detailing of locales, whether W. Hollywood, Manhattan, and (I imagine) Vancouver. There's almost no humour and absolutely no sex, unless you inlude throwaway lines like 'She had had carnal knowledge of him in such a bed'. Gimme a break.

He does construct the novel with several separated strands of plot much like Don DeLillo sometimes does, and let them be brought together, but it's a superficial resemblance. Gibson's high-strung writing has no flesh and blood.

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who's doing the ironing?

I’m still looking for someone willing to be the submissive object of my scorching rhetoric, but oddly enough there are few takers.

back to topic---I am currently reading Duberman's bio of Kirstein and loving every page of it---I admire his writing style and will surely look into his other books.

I can’t recommend his biography of Paul Robeson highly enough.

I picked up Chopin's Funeral (by Benita Eisler). It's very interesting, and from an analysis standpoint, does have an intriguing way of describing Chopin's life, through his death and funeral...but already, I can tell that Ms. Eisler does not harbor any liking for George Sand. Is there a book that actually puts Sand in a normal and not a "femme fatale" perspective?

I’d also suggest going to the library and browsing the biography shelves – I seem to recall a lot of titles related to Chopin and Sand.

There's almost no humour and absolutely no sex, unless you inlude throwaway lines like 'She had had carnal knowledge of him in such a bed'. Gimme a break.

You bring back fond memories of ‘Brideshead Revisited’ – the best Waugh could do in that regard was ‘he made free of her loins,’ which only made me think of Hormel and pork roast.

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but already, I can tell that Ms. Eisler does not harbor any liking for George Sand. Is there a book that actually puts Sand in a normal and not a "femme fatale" perspective?

I think that was her normal perspective, according to many who knew her well. Liszt, one of the most generous of men, had no liking for her, and she did spread malicious gossip and unnecessary details about her lovers (I guess this was done by word of mouth before we had the Tabloid World.)

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I think that was her normal perspective, according to many who knew her well. Liszt, one of the most generous of men, had no liking for her, and she did spread malicious gossip and unnecessary details about her lovers (I guess this was done by word of mouth before we had the Tabloid World.)
Well, she definitely would have been a prolific blogger and talk show personality if such things had been available then. :clapping:

The Goncourt's report a gossip session at Princesse Mathilde (Bonaparte)'s.

We discussed the question of Mme Sand's love affairs and everybody agreed that she had a very unfeminine nature, with a basisc coldness which allowed her to write about her lovers when practically in bed with them. When Merimee got out of her bed one day and picked up a sheet of paper lying on the table, she snatched it out of his hand: it was a pen-portrait she had done of him.

To be fair, she lived many decades after that Romantic period of her life, writing, writing, writing, supporting an extended family, and becoming almost respectable by the time she died in her 70s. A number of her literary friends, Turgenev among them, commented on her generosity, loyalty, and bigness of heart.

My favorite story about Sand the writer comes from Theophile Gautier :

Madame Sand can't sit down in a room without pens appearing in front of her, together with blue ink, cigarette paper, Turkish Tobacco, and striped note-paper. And it simply pours out of her! Because she starts again at midnight and works until four in the morning. You know what happened to her once? Something absolutely monstrous! One day she finished an novel at one o-clock in the morning. "Good heavens," she said, "I've finished!" And she promptly started another.

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Well, people, what are we reading?

I'm reading Mary Renault's 'The Nature of Alexander.' I had already read and loved her fictionalized accounts of Alexander's life ('Fire from Heaven' and 'The Persian Boy') but didn't know of this book until I came across it accidentally in a used bookstore. It's an elegant little biography.

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