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Thread: Literature Ramble

  1. #166
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Borges in his memory tells about a small accident that happened to him, while waiting a book arrive by mail. When the mailman came, he climbed down the stairs too fast and feel, hitting the head and had to be taken to the hospital. There he had a sort of panic because his sight showed signals of vanishing (However, he never had good sight, it was a hereditary) and he went thinking he would never be able to write again. However, that was also when he he came with the idea of his short stories about other stories. The book he was waiting was Out of Silent Planet (he reviewed the book for a newspaper).

    However, I think he was making up a Excalibur out of the stone momment, because the years do not match well, for what I noticed, and I honestly, do not Imagine Borges that enthustiastic with C.S.Lewis (albeit his review of the book was positive, but then, he was usually respectuful and avoided to say negative stuff in his reviews).

    Yes, interesting book, but I could not avoid to think Lewis aliens were more close to Tolkien elfs than the movies were able to portrait (Yes, I am aware Lewis book came out before Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, where the elfs were really defined).
    Surely they influenced each other a lot since they belonged to the same Literary Club, the Inklings.

  2. #167
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    There is no french influence in the appalachia's region?

    Not much. It was mostly settled by the Scotch and the Scotch-Irish. That's why the Child Ballads turned up there (although it was quite a surprise when folklorists started to find them). In the 17th century, the richer people lived down in the tobacco country and the poorer lived up in the Appalachian Mountains. They became isolated and were considered backwoods "hillbillies" for a long time. They are a bit less isolated now, though some are still quite poor. They're suffering a lot now because of the opioid crisis. I've been there (to West Virginia and Tennessee anyway). It's stunningly beautiful country, especially West Virginia. But the wrong place, I think, to go looking for French culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Well, that was the birth of allegorical interpretations among greeks was like this, even if Apulleio had or not some faith on Psyche and Eros cult (something not hard to believe, as you mention his ties with dark magic, considering the whole travel to the underworld part of the tale), for the effect was beyond his control.

    Yes, the fairy tale future of Cupid and Psyche was beyond his control. By the way, when I said he was religious, I didn't mean he held "some faith on Psyche and Eros cult". He probably respected the story for containing a hidden Neoplatonist interpretation, but his ardent religion was Isis worship. But it was really a Neoplatonist syncretic cult with little to do with Pharaonic religion. Isis is the one who changes the narrator back to a human at the end of The Golden A ss, after which he becomes a priest in her cult. I guess some of Apuleius' Neoplatonism does survive in Beauty and the Beast (which is all about the failure of physical appearances to reveal inner beauty). Buthe never guessed what his legacy would be.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    A bit mean, everything is so old there. Even if the thing goes a little dragged with Gareth and the whole arturian duels in the middle of the story, It got me wondering - Ishiguro is not japanese, but I have seen him claiming to have influence of this side (but then, how much indian Kipling was) and a literary aspect of japenese literature, named Mono no Ware, which is sort like the feeling of things passing, while they are still there. Or perhaps he just wanted to play the celtic twilight card a bit...

    Here is a review I wrote on The Buried Giant about the time I read it. It's not bad (if you ignore the fact that I spelled Ishiguro wrong).

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    I get the feeling that Kazuo Ishiguru's The Buried Giant began life as a short story about marriage, dreamlike and allegorical, and that it grew to short-novel stature because a publisher needed something new from Ishiguru, who had not been otherwise in print in ten years or so. It is a strange and wildly uneven novel, capable in parts of moving readers, but also, in parts, of making them--or me anyway--want to chuck it out the window unfinished. And that's quite a confession since I make myself finish every book I start, even if it is lengthy (which this one is not) and I find I don't like it. For me, however, The Buried Giant ends even more strongly that it begins, so I am glad I muddled through its none too effective middle passage. It wasn't a terribly long slog--I read the book in two nights--but I was surprised to see a good writer like Ishiguru pad out what amounts to a short story so ineptly. Perhaps he's got writer's block.

    The Buried Giant opens in a cursed and ruined Britain a little less than a generation after Arthur's death. Britons and Saxons have fallen into an apathetic but peaceful coexistence, at least for a time. The setting is otherwise rather vague--vagueness being a theme of The Buried Giant--for the "reality" in this world of ogres and dragons invites us not to inquire about it too critically.

    This constitutes my first problem with The Buried Giant. A blasted post-Roman Britain in which endemic violence has produced psychotics who lurk in the mist to carry off children or murder unwary travelers, understood by the populace as the monsters they are, would have been more effective than a compendium of fantasy-novel bogies, cliches for which Ishiguru attempts to compensate by making his fiends often more pathetic than otherwise. Such "iconic" fantasy elements leave too much of The Buried Giant without a dimension sufficient for its themes (icons are flat, right?) Ironically, Ishiguru manages things more smoothly when the dragon--yes, an actual dragon--turns up in the latter part of the book. But by then, he has remembered that The Buried Giant is an allegory and not a Harry Potter cash in.

    But I have gotten ahead of myself. The Buried Giant, when it is effective, is the story of an elderly husband and wife who, while devoted to one another, have become estranged from their work-a-day community, and are being increasing ostracized by it. At the same time, they come to notice that a malaise, eventually connected to the dragon, is consuming their world: memory is increasingly absent from their neighbors' experience of reality, and even their own. People live within vague parameters of what is expected of them, but their histories, and even the events of days or hours ago, have become as dim as the mist that shrouds their swamp-side community. How, the old lovers worry, will they retain their love for one another if they lose the precious and bonding memories of their life together?

    This theme of misted memory has obvious resonance in an age of Alzheimer's disease, and more subtle implications for any lasting marriage. Courageous victories, condolences in defeat, sweet nostalgia--these things bind a marriage; but what about the things a couple chooses not to remember? Are some things better left in the mists of oblivion or better faced? And what are the implications either way? At its best, The Buried Giant explores these themes on micro- (that is, interpersonal) and macroscopic (that is, historical) levels. Ishiguru is masterful on the former; and while history is not entirely his bailiwick (nor is The Buried Giant in any real sense a historical novel), he offers keen and disturbing insight into the latter. Getting there, however is what might be termed a "short strange road."

    Early on in The Buried Giant, the elderly couple, Beatrice and Axl, decide to leave their community and journey to the home of a vaguely remembered son to seek protection. This may be a plan they have long entertained, and it may have been resisted to a degree by Axl. Neither one is too sure. The first stages of this journey are expressed in symbol-heavy allegory (think Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal). Although a little heavy handed, these parts are intelligent and important to the book as a whole. Unfortunately The Buried Giant soon veers wildly in another direction--that of cliche-ridden Sword and Sorcery. Well, more sword, I suppose, than sorcery, although the aforementioned ogres and the obligatory female medicinal healer do put in cameo appearances. Sword-wielding Saxon action heroes play their usual riff for a time, and an absolutely unnecessary, unmotivated, poorly plotted, and yes, poorly written subplot involving bad-guy Christian monks (boo, hiss!) very very very nearly spoils the whole goddamn book. Worst of all is the dialogue: stilted, trite, and unworthy of even Xena at her most cliched--far worse, in fact, since Xena at least had humor and camp. If this is camp, it does not belong in the same book as Axl and Beatrice. A little humor, on the other hand, would have gone a long way to offset their inevitable heaviness. But this is neither. As I commented several times while reading the middle part of The Buried Giant: what the f *ck is going on here?

    Well I have two theories. The first is that we are dealing with a post-modernish appropriation of a socially devalued literary genre that something something something paternalistic something something something-centric something something something subverting the something-phobic narrative something something something or other. That is possible. And to give Ishiguru his due, at least two of the clichéd characters introduced in these chapters are subverted and reconstructed as full fledged characters later in the book. Perhaps he's just "taking risks as a writer." That is possible.

    My second theory is that a publisher rang up Ishiguru, after having received only one novella in ten years, and said, "Listen, Kaz baby, it's just not long enough. Why don't you pad it out with something that'll expand your market base a little. I mean, it's already kind of 'Dungeons & Dragons,' right?" And Ishiguru, who was busy thinking deep thought at the time, got one of his kids to do it for him. That is possible, too.

    But The Buried Giant does get a grip. It returns to the themes of mist, memory, and marriage and becomes once more the story of Axl and Beatrice. In fact, although I just finished it last and the story is still weaving its spell on me, I would say in the immediate afterglow that the last chapter of The Buried Giant is one of the more moving finales I can remember reading in recent years. Younger readers, the unmarried, and some of the divorced (the ones cynical about marriage in any case) may mistake it for sentimental. It's not, although Axl may seem a little uxorious to some (he sometimes sounds like he's playing Stan Laurel to Beatrice's Oliver Hardy). But in the end, I suspect that many who have spent long years in loving marriages will be moved to tears by this book--eventually. I was not, but I did, on finishing, turn out the light and hold my wife until dawn. For all my criticism of The Buried Giant, I can give it no higher compliment than that.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Which is something funny, because reading holmes stories by Doyle after the "ressurection" you got exactly the feeling Doyle wanted to twist Holmes neck a couple of time

    Perhaps there was more than a little Conan Doyle in the Colonel Sebastian Moran who shot at Holmes silhouette in the window of 221-B Baker Street during Holmes first post-death adventure.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-23-2018 at 06:54 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  3. #168
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Yes, the fairy tale future of Cupid and Psyche was beyond his control. By the way, when I said he was religious, I didn't mean he held "some faith on Psyche and Eros cult". He probably respected the story for containing a hidden Neoplatonist interpretation, but his ardent religion was Isis worship. But it was really a Neoplatonist syncretic cult with little to do with Pharaonic religion. Isis is the one who changes the narrator back to a human at the end of The Golden A ss, after which he becomes a priest in her cult. I guess some of Apuleius' Neoplatonism does survive in Beauty and the Beast (which is all about the failure of physical appearances to reveal inner beauty). Buthe never guessed what his legacy would be.
    Ah, I meant his belief in the myths, even in those he may not be part of the cult. Anyways, that occured to me because I recall Cupd & Pysche myth had some popularity among mystery cults or such, perhaps the whole chat with Persephone having a link with the Orpheus. Could be something atractive.


    Here is a review I wrote on The Buried Giant about the time I read it. It's not bad (if you ignore the fact that I spelled Ishiguro wrong).
    Well, I would invite you to read the review I did for The Buried Giant, but it is in portuguese. I do not think we are far from an agreement, Ishiguro mix up of genres created an uneven but interesting work, mixing a gentle, touching, slow work in the old couple relationship and the memory loss drama with some arturian knights, which are completely out of place like a skateboard in a F1 race. The knights and Edwin seem to be begging for Ishiguro to let them move at the peace, and yeah, this kind of narrative asks for another rythim. I reckon the imporance of giving life to the setting and perhaps a comentary about social memory of sorts, how the big scope of things, like a war, can share and affect the private minor relationships and mold the memory of a society, but oftentimes they just didn't blend well: Ishiguro is too concious of the character voices and he just cann't make the knights shut up. Axl voice however is slow like the river of time, perfectly suited. Of course, one could say the entire story could go from their meeting with the first boatmen, jump over saxons and bretons and have their final crossing and it would be a good allegorical story, but perhaps we wouldnt be aas concerned with Axl and Beatrice fate as we did.

    The book was also good enough to open my heart for other works of Ishiguro, Anthony Hopkins or not.

    Perhaps there was more than a little Conan Doyle in the Colonel Sebastian Moran who shot at Holmes silhouette in the window of 221-B Baker Street during Holmes first post-death adventure.
    Well, Honestly, Holmes, Poirot, etc were too much annoying as characters to be tolerated for long. No wonder both authors tried hard to get away from them.
    #foratemer

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