Monday, September 19, 1994

The Nose

by Nikolai Gogol
translated by Gleb and Mary Struve

This unusual story is a great piece of work – absurd, somewhat satirical, rather mocking in tone, but with an affectionate tinge to it. Commentary by the translators suggests that there is no reason to Gogol’s surrealism, but I think it could hardly be possible Freudian symbolism was not in his mind. Kovaloyov’s social “impotence” at his loss and his haughty machismo upon reattachment could hardly signify anything else. A very funny and sharp-witted story.

Sunday, September 18, 1994

The Words

by Jean-Paul Sartre

In terms of its style and craft of writing, this autobiography may well be unequaled. The prose is perfect, beautiful and brilliant. The depth of thought in the self-analysis, the clarity of the examination and the honesty, is also brilliant. A lot of the references to Sartre’s childhood reading material went over my head, unfortunately. But that’s minor; I was still awed by his insight and style. Sartre says elsewhere that this is not an apology or a self-repudiation, although it may seem so. It’s merely a totally open representation of a life from its origins to its path to rebirth.

Tuesday, September 6, 1994

Son Of Spellsinger

The seventh and last Spellsinger book.  Crammed with Foster's inconsistencies and unexplained oddities, but it’s a good story. The end, where the truth-making device is brought home, is especially good.

Saturday, September 3, 1994

The Time Of the Transference

The sixth Spellsinger book.  More of the human in the magic animal world. The humor was well-placed, the characters good. But this time the females were domestic – Talea didn’t go with Jon-Tom on his adventure, Weegee tries to “Tame” Mudge – but the worst was that Jon-Tom left for years and Talea kept house for him, waiting alone. That’s stupid, and not at all like her original character. Enjoyable anyway, though I hate it when authors try to impose their own insecurities and fantasies on their characters.

two stars

Thursday, September 1, 1994

Sartre By Himself

by Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Contat, Alexandre Astruc

A transcription of a film of Sartre discussing various issues with fellow intellectuals. It’s an interesting look at his development from moralist, to realist, to moralist for the masses, and it also depicts him working at galvanizing the masses & protesting oppressive actions in the late ‘60s. There’s also a short analysis of works such as Nausea & Being and Nothingness, which I haven’t read – but it’s a start on understanding them, anyway. An intriguing book, if (necessarily, because it’s conversations) choppy and disjointed in structure.