With this last week of the year, here are some more short reviews, which I think will allow me to finally present to you all the books I have read this year.
Today two classics which have basically nothing in common, they were not even written originally in the same language, but they are
My Ántonia, by Willa Cather
This is a classic (written in 1918) that about everyone except me must have read, so I don’t pretend to review it, I just want to share a few of my impressions.
It is presented as the story written by Jim, retelling his own presentation of the life of Ántonia. He met her when he was 10, in Nebraska where he lived with his grandparents. It was he who taught Ántonia her first English words when she arrived in the village as a Bohemian immigrant.
This is a book about life, about friendship.
What I really loved about it is all the awesome descriptions of life in Nebraska, about the prairie, the land, nature. This is what attracted me, even more than the presentation of this strong woman.
In Book 3, when Jim is at the university, there are also neat passages on discovering the world of ideas, on Greek and Latin classics.
The ambiance reminds me a bit of Le grand Meaulnes (written in 1913, so just 5 years before), as for the theme of friendship and the land.
I really found it beautiful and definitely plan to read the whole Great Plains trilogy, as well as other books by Willa Cather.
Sodome et Gomorrhe, by Marcel Proust
As you may remember, I’m in the process of reading the whole of A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time).
I dragged my feet with the previous volume, and this 4th one was a bit better, though I didn’t like much his spirit when talking about and describing the homosexuals of his time.
There were still, like in the previous book, a few looooooooooong social scenes at dinner and receptions, and I really have enough of those.
But as usual with Proust, I still think it worthwhile to drag my feet along 368 pages because here and there you have beautiful gems of descriptions (though alas not as many as in volume 1) or reflections.
I enjoyed in this time some great passages on the fact of dreaming, and the connection between dreaming and memory.
As of today, I’m in my last 25% of volume 5, so I will need 2015 to finish the whole thing.
I hope this does not sound pedantic, this is definitely not my intention, but really the beauty of Proust is in his writing, his mastery of the French sentence, so seriously, if you can’t read French, skip it, I really don’t think it’s worth reading in translation, however good a translation can try to be.
I would like to hear your opinion on his point actually.
HAVE YOU READ THESE CLASSICS?
DID YOU LIKE THEM?
WHY? WHY NOT?