On Dreams.

Goodreads Review.

 

What happens when a menstruating woman looks at a mirror? Exactly why is it that toddlers never ever dream? If questions like these distract you, read this.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_Dre…

Honestly, it is not very good at all. To put the clean stuff clearly, Aristotle believes that dreams are impressions left over from the day-time, akin to the sun temporarily burning a spot onto the retina. One can relate this to the dimension of Platonic objects but you probably wont. Quick & easy to read, maybe it will give you more authority or just more chutzpah when Dreams are the topic of talk.

Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, formerly of the Grenadier Guards, and M.P. for Stafford: being Anecdotes of the Camp, the Court and the Clubs at the close of the War with France.

Goodreads Review.

Available freely online at Wikisource.

 

The title is accurate. Reading through this book gives the sense of aristocratic people standing around conversing, akin to cocktail parties. This is the strongest impression it left on me, an impression of oral story telling transcribed. Alternatively, it is a dose of the reality before the ‘meritocracy of modernity’ held social apogee, because although a bad businessman is described, it is an uncritical description. Perhaps the 1st 3rd of the book was rather good, after that it declined into small witticisms about forgotten celebrities. Some readers are surely curious about certain poets; Lord Byron, Shelley and others are discussed by their contemporary Cpt. Gronow. Old-fangled language can be collected, quidnunc has entered my own vocabulary. Brevity of chapters enhances a light reading, which is the approach I recommend.

William Wilson.

Freely available online. (link goes to PDF)
Goodreads Review.

A walk on the beach spurred this laconic summation. Can a man who would rather harikari than copy, tolerate his inner reflection?

A short story told from the first person, it follows a fortunate but foul man. At first sharing his time with a virtuous doppelganger, the eponymous character becomes pursued by this fleshy voodoo doll into a literary crescendo.

If one reads this as a mental metaphor instead of a narrative, Mr. Wilson’s moral corruption becomes an effect not affect, and it warns us of extreme dedication to becoming an original thinker. Human prescience at first aids Mr. Wilson’s self-fulfilment, but even as a boy he seeks an escape from imitating a fantasy self. So he chooses an imperfection & wickedness not present in the unreal other. Vain people may exchange forgiveness for witness. This turn fits the metaphorical narrative as he percolates through international high society. Or maybe a Dukedom isn’t what it used to be…

Middle Temple Murder.

Goodreads Review.
Free Wikisource Version.

 

From the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, this novel reared itself from a literary grave into my mind via a specific reference on Wikipedia. It is not quite so much fun as Dr. Watson & Mr. Holmes, despite being from the same era and a more prolific writer. Nevertheless it is gripping, strictly profane & the ultimate reveal of the villain is deftly done, and perhaps even realistic.

 

War & Peace.

Goodreads Review.

 

If you read this great work of literature, you will learn about Mr. Napoleon. Not too much, this is a Russian book. You will be following the lives of various aristocrats and some military persons. Most of the characters were real people, so to were the events. The people who actually tend the farms (muzhik’s), are not characters so much as tiny non-essential cogs in the narrative & nation. Some landlord characters care for them, other landlords dismiss them and everybody else ignores them. Merchants are more completely ignored, as is to be expected of a feudal society.

There is no key character. Count Bezukhov is the closest, and is absent in person and in the discourse of hundreds of pages. Nor does it expound Christian theology, only a little ideological facade is proffered by Count Tolstoy. Nor does this epic tale focus on the year 1812, which was the peak aggression of the French Empire. Nor does it focus on a single conundrum. A fantasy contrast of rich & poor, which is present in a shallow form in Alladin does not fill these pages. A major exploration of the upper crust during a time of turmoil, it is an epic tale in diversity of characters and in the length of time covered from 1st page to last.

Larrikins looking for hi-jinks are better off reading Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy. For such a reader, the high point occurs in the first hundred pages or so, with the tale of the policeman & the bear. Meathead bookworms looking for violence are better off reading something by Marshall Macao. Pitched battles occur several times, not more often. Armchair philosophers (& generals) seeking a schema for regular application on the evening news will find a little. Skip to the epilogue and appendix to read Mr. Tolstoy expound on the chaos inherent to all major human organisation.

It has earnt 4 stars. Reasons are numerous. To gloat about this experience requires an aware audience. My philosophy is sharpened from having read it. I am less ignorant of the events preceding WWI & pursuant social upheavals. Madness of crowds and the cult of celebrity prior to fast communications and fast transport is a fascinating subject. Unveiling of the hidden ugliness of times past is lacking. Rag on a stick method of hygiene for example. All the varieties of clothing would be less attractive when one can & does not dress oneself and everywhere itches. War would have been less deadly with the un-rifled barrels of the time, so there would have been more safety for heroism when opposing battalions can stand in eyesight of each other, fire all day and less than a 1/4 of the soldiers are dead at the end. I digress.

If you do read this book, pay attention to the French language. The preface forewarned me as I do you now. The appendix post-warned me, in a rather oblique manner. With careful application of French, Count Tolstoy develops a theme. Whether this theme is historically realistic, which it might be from the authors extensive research, or if it is a personal whimsy, I do not know. Alternatively, I recommend reflecting on the concept of nation and of the power of a single person during the days or nights you read. Many reviews on Goodreads are pleasant, only afterwards.

I read this book. Every. Single. Page. It is a, big, big book with, small, small letters. Pleasure shall be brought to me, when guests of my house see it in an alcove, mounted on a pedestal, near to the front door. Lit from below, with candles to flicker shadows across the pages as my fingers once flitted across them. The pedestal shall stand in the nook made from the slow curl of a grand staircase. The wicks of the candles shall be made from the hair of the illiterate and the floor tiled with the bank cards of the innumerate. I digress & apologise for wasteful words.

The Rum Diary.

Goodreads Review.

 

A book which shows some roots of Mr. Thompson’s fear & loathing. The narration begins with Mr. Kemp, a U.S. soul lost from the clutches of religion, free of grasping politics, flying to Puerto Rico after high times on foreign shores. A journalist by profession, arriving to serve a new employer, unable to reach contentment, Mr. Kemp aims for a wade through a quagmire of rum & little else besides. At times nigh-identical with the travel brochure Mr. Kemp is hired to write late in the novel, and at others, (I believe) surprisingly consistent with the articles he writes earlier in the pages (which remain imaginary). Vivid descriptions of a dissipating Caribbean lifestyle are dispersed throughout the short novel, so to are shocking descriptions of local culture. Garish contrasts between the tourists and locals are described more often perhaps than the tropical idyll, and the resulting blend is a satisfactory cosmetic for the journey of a disenfranchised young man.

Evolution Man, Or, How I Ate My Father.

Goodreads Review.

Terry Pratchett recommended it, as he should because it is a great book, smooth to read and whimsical. A rollicking read, saturated from start to finish with an ironic vocabulary which adds a shine to other, more upfront, demonstrations of wit. It seems unlikely that you, or anyone else has, or will read it without reaching for the dictionary. Do not be misled, the Latin doesn’t slow it down rather, it exaggerates one of the plentiful nuggets of humour. Follow Earnest through his adventures in the, hopefully Late, Paleolithic period. Don’t read too fast though, it might all be over too soon.

Occult Japan.

Goodreads review.

Available here at Wikisource.

A longer read than is pleasurable. Sometimes funny, such as describing the French as monkeys with cringe-worthy sansculotte (pants-less) institutions.  Within are details of ritual possession (which the author concludes are entirely real), the childhood development of the attitude, the dominant religions & their quarrels, the powers of possession, the pilgrim troop, journey & destination, the analogue of business cards that the pilgrims distribute, and so on. There was a momentary surprise to find an author so implicitly derisive of the Japanese culture & people to be aware of the Christian tendency to baptise any tradition to strong to be dismissed or daemonised.

The author appears sincere in investigating the psyche of the Japanese nation. Indeed he believes himself to have determined the origin of the possession ritual, as well as locating prehistoric religion / attitudes passed down through generations and lost to the confusion between Shintō, Buddhism and Ryobū. A confusion locals could only overcome by leaning on the author’s own strong, Western personality, to make explicit a certain ugliness of this book.

At times it reads as a tourist travel guide, it begins with the author climbing the Ontaké mountain peak, witnessing  a three-wheeling possession of monks. It discusses various attractions, with a tilt towards those favoured by locals instead of those most accessible by foreigners. & of course it mentions the cherry blossoms.

The last 100 pages or so are not worth the paper. I’d rather wipe with them to be honest. If you are interested in reading my words about his words about someone else discussing the mental processes behind difficulty in getting out of bed, you are a strange breed of ape. It is in these later pages where the authors racial pride really shows itself. I feel it has degraded my soul to read so many pages denigrating the Japanese. [To be clear, I believe there are inherited traits and do not favour a total Blank-Slate theory of human nature. A complex interplay of nature and nurture exists, of which this Mr. Lowell is occasionally aware.]

In the Penal Colony.

Goodreads Review.

 

Short enough to quickly read on the train, the narrative flows linearly. A simple twist at the end, one I failed to anticipate, despite ruminating on it during the train change. Mr. Kafka anticipates & predates the Saw film franchise, the Hostel film franchise.

The author, & this work particularly, seem to have acquired some respect, although precisely how this impression came to me, I do not know. However others attach metaphors, whatever it demonstrates about absolute commitment to justice, it is torture porn in literature format.