Sunday Post #26 – 2/23/2020

Sunday Post

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The Essential Haiku Monsieur Gallet décédé

l ile du diable

📚 The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa, edited by and with introduction by Robert Hass
Published in 1994.
Read for Japanese Literature Challenge 13

As I read Natsume Soseki’s trilogy, there were several references to haiku masters, especially three. And my library happened to have a book on them three!
This was an excellent book, with a great introduction and final notes on the historical origin and the development of the haiku form.
I had no idea that it was first the first verses of a renga, a communal poem really, first started by a poet, then another poet would write the next stropha, without knowing what the previous stropha was, etc. So it ended up being a collective and whimsical effort.
Then Hass offers a shorter introduction at the beginning of each part dedicated to one of these three masters, highlighting the important elements in their life and art.
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694). Yosa Buson (1716-1783), and Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827).
Highly recommended if you want to discover this poetry form.

I posted several haiku form this book on Twitter and Instagram. Here is one:

📚 Monsieur Gallet, décédé [The Late Monsieur Gallet]
Published in 1931. Maigret #3, read with one of my French students.
Counts for The Classics Book Club
Hmm, this was not an easy Maigret. The title gave me the idea there was some type of identity issue, but of course I didn’t guess what was really happening, and it was far more complex than at first sight: basically, Maigret has to investigate the death of a man. And obviously I was suspecting the wrong culprit.
I do enjoy this type of mysteries, when you think it’s simple, and then little by little, you discover there’s so much more to it, and you realize you really have no clue!
Also, in this this Maigret story, I found lots of humor, in the description of some characters (une concierge, of course, like in so many novels) and in some dialogs. Like this old woman coming up, because she heard there was some reward if you had seen somebody near the crime of the scene. She’s trying to get three times the reward, because she saw the culprit three times. It sounds really funny in the dialog.
And some settings sound so familiar, like the local village worker spending his latest cash reward at the village café on wine with friends! It sounded so much like my little village still in the 1970s.
There are even some cool images:

Un orage avait éclaté pendant la nuit, mais on sentait que le ciel n’était pas vidé
Chapter 8

Which is poorly translated as “There had been a storm during the night, but you could feel that there was more rain to come.” in the latest edition (2013).
I would suggest: “A thunderstorm had hit the city during the night, but you could feel the rain had not yet all been emptied out.” Not great, but at least I kept the image.

As usual, it’s fun to see how Maigret is attentive to every detail he can find.
In only three novels, I can see the evolution of Simenon’s writing, things are getting more subtle and complex. I’d love to keep reading or listening to those. Who knows, I may end up reading them all, that would be my longest series, as there are no less than 75 Maigret books!!

📚 L’ile du diable, by Nicolas Beuglet,
third book in theSarah Geringën series.
I listened to it, right after volume 1 and 2, eager to see what was going to happen next.
This one is much shorter than the previous two, and it focused on Sarah’s inner issues, as she investigates the mysterious murder of her own father.
This time, Beuglet focuses on fascinating data related to epigenetics. In lay terms, it’s about how for example some events experienced by some of your ancestors can impact your own DNA, or how they behave. So for instance, you could experience strong depression or anxiety, that’s rooted not in what you have personally been through, but in a trauma experienced by your father or grandmother. I didn;t know about this science and found it very interesting.
However, some torture scenes were really tough.
The end of the book opens up on an important turn in Sarah’s life, but I’m glad I’ll probably have at least a year before next book comes out to decide if I keep reading this series or not.


 The Ten loves of Mr Nishino The Missing Sister

📚 The Ten Loves of Nishino
Reading for Japanese Literature Challenge 13 .
Received for review through Edelweiss Plus

“Each woman in this book has succumbed, even if only for an hour, to that seductive, imprudent, and furtively feline man who managed to glide so naturally into their lives. But who really was Mr. Nishino?
Through a collection of chapters, we hear from the narration of different women who were part of Mr. Nishino’s sex life. And from there, we get to know little by little who he is. I have over 60% of the book, and am getting to see the manipulative man.

📚 The Missing Sister
Received for review for Criminal Element
Release date: April 1st
Shayna is called to identify the remains of her twin sister Angela fund in Paris. But she discovers a clue that Angela might actually still be alive, so she decides to investigate what’s going on. I really like the setting descriptions and the suspense so far.

📚 Theological Territories, by David Bentley Hart.
Slowly but surely, I’m still reading this collection of essays.

📚 The Book of Exodus
In audiobook, I started The Book of Exodus. I plan to listen also to Leviticus, before listening to The Mysterious Affair at Styles – to finally start my project of listening to the whole Hercule Poirot canon, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his appearance.


Lessons From Walden

📚 Lessons from Walden: Thoreau and the Crisis of American Democracy, by Bob Pepperman Taylor
Expected publication: March 30th 2020 by University of Notre Dame Press
Received for review through Edelweiss Plus.
I really enjoyed Walden last year, so I thought it might be good to revisit it this year through this analysis:
Throughout this original and passionate book, Bob Pepperman Taylor presents a wide-ranging inquiry into the nature and implications of Henry David Thoreau’s thought in Walden and Civil Disobedience.
As Taylor says in his introduction, ” Walden is a central American text for addressing two of the central crises of our time: the increasingly alarming threats we now face to democratic norms, practices, and political institutions, and the perhaps even more alarming environmental dangers confronting us.”
Taylor pursues this inquiry in three chapters, each focusing on a single theme: chapter 1 examines simplicity and the ethics of “voluntary poverty,” chapter 2 looks at civil disobedience and the role of “conscience” in democratic politics, and chapter 3 concentrates on what “nature” means to us today and whether we can truly “learn from nature”–and if so, what does it teach?
Taylor considers Thoreau’s philosophy, and the philosophical problems he raises, from the perspective of a wide range of thinkers and commentators drawn from history, philosophy, the social sciences, and popular media, breathing new life into Walden and asking how it is alive for us today


 The Empire and the Five Kings Kallocain

📚 The Empire and the Five Kings: America’s Abdication and the Fate of the World
Release date 2/12/20
I haven’t read anything by the controversial BHL, as we call him in France for a long time. I’m curious about his view of the US, in this book just reeived from a friend. Thanks Rick!
One of the West’s leading intellectuals offers a provocative look at America’s withdrawal from world leadership and the rising powers who seek to fill the vacuum left behind.
The United States was once the hope of the world, a beacon of freedom and the defender of liberal democracy. Nations and peoples on all continents looked to America to stand up for the values that created the Western worldand to oppose autocracy and repression. Even when America did not live up to its ideals, it still recognized their importance, at home and abroad.
But as Bernard-Henri Lévy lays bare in this powerful and disturbing analysis of the world today, America is retreating from its traditional leadership role, and in its place have come five ambitious powers, former empires eager to assert their primacy and influence. Lévy shows how these five—Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, and Sunni radical Islamism—are taking steps to undermine the liberal values that have been a hallmark of Western civilization.
The Empire and the Five Kings is a cri de coeur that draws upon lessons from history and the eternal touchstones of human culture to reveal the stakes facing the West as America retreats from its leadership role, a process that did not begin with Donald Trump’s presidency and is not likely to end with him. The crisis is one whose roots can be found as far back as antiquity and whose resolution will require the West to find a new way forward if its principles and values are to survive.

📚 Kallocain
Swedish scifi and dystopia published n 1940!
I found it on a book blog, and it does sound like a great classic to discover.
“This is a novel of the future, profoundly sinister in its vision of a drab terror. Ironic and detached, the author shows us the totalitarian World-state through the eyes of a product of that state, scientist Leo Kall. Kall has invented a drug, kallocain, which denies the privacy of thought and is the final step towards the transmutation of the individual human being into a “happy, healthy cell in the state organism.” For, says Leo, “from thoughts and feelings, words and actions are born. How then could these thoughts and feelings belong to the individual? Doesn’t the whole fellow-soldier belong to the state? To whom should his thoughts and feelings belong then, if not to the state?”
As the first-person record of Leo Kall, scientist, fellow-soldier too late disillusioned to undo his previous actions, Kallocain achieves a chilling power and veracity that place it among the finest novels to emerge from the strife-torn Europe of the twentieth century.


The Empire and the Five Kings: America’s Abdication and the Fate of the World.
See details above.


📚 Reading The Ten Loves of Nishino, forJapanese Literature Challenge 13.
I was wondering if I had already read it, but no. It’s intriguing to see how all the stories are connected, through the character of Mr. Nishino.

📚 I finished The Essential Haiku, see review above.
📚 I listened to L’ile du diable for a total of two hours today!
It’s tackling a psychological disease I really didn’t see coming – sorry, I won’t reveal spoilers here, I do have French students who read this blog and the sane books in French!
It’s quite intense, for us readers, as much as for Sarah, secretly investigating the death of her own father and discovering so many things she didn’t know about him.

📚 Monsieur Gallet, décédé is getting more and more complex. See review above

📚 I finished Monsieur Gallet, décédé and L’ile du diable. There was a very disturbing torture scene in the latter. See review above.

📚 I keep discovering new facet of Mr Nishino, with narratives of other women in The Ten Loves of Nishino.
📚 And I’m diving into the very suspenseful The Missing Sister, by Elle Marr. 

📚 This was a busy week, with several meetings with friends. I only read a few pages of The Ten Loves of Nishino tonight.

📚 I started listening to The Book of Exodus (audiobook on youtube)
📚 I finished essay 10 in Theological Territories, by David Bentley Hart. It was a very difficult analysis on From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, by Daniel C. Dennett, which I haven’t read and am not planning to read. DBH can be very mean in his critiques, though the critique does seem justified.


📚 Book of the month giveaway


    Japanese Literature 13

January-March: Japanese Literature Challenge 13

  • 2/24: Book review: New SAT Vocabulary Workbook
  • 2/25: More notes of Theological Territories
  • 2/26: Book review: Creativity for Kids
  • More haiku?


24 thoughts on “Sunday Post #26 – 2/23/2020

  1. I love haiku. Writing haiku is a perfect activity for new language learners. It would be fun for your French students to try writing haiku in French.

    I read one Maigret. I have a hard time with mysteries. My brain doesn’t work logically, and I never figure out who did it. I did like Maigret. I wish there would be more Maigrets on PBS.

    Have a great week!


    • Thanks for the great idea of writing French Haiku for my students! I have at least one student who would really love doing this I think. Having read many mysteries, I actually now often guess who did it, and but never the why!


  2. Poirot readthrough sounds fun. I do like classic mysteries and that would be a neat project- I’d like to read more of Agatha Christie’s stuff.

    The Empire and Five Kings definitely sound like an interesting read as well.


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  4. I love your book journal. I need to get back into mine. I haven’t entered anything for the last three weeks.


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  8. Thanks for sharing the one by Buson. It’s lovely, and exactly what I’ve come to expect. Thoughts about the beauty of Nature, and also how it won’t last beyond this very moment — which is what adds to the beauty. Sigh.


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