This sexually ambiguous, daring archaeologist fascinates us for the same reason we still read The Iliad: our need for stirring examples of grace under pressure. Henrik, a nobleman of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Konrad, a humble man with ambition, became best friends in military school.
Then, one night, their relationship ruptured.
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Forty-one years pass until they meet again before the embers of a fading fire, where they probe their relationship and their lives. Truth, trust, and hope serve as plot and protagonist in this often comic, philosophical novel that anticipated postmodernism by a century.
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Many sagas novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of love and war creates haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of remarkably vivid characters. Through the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet. The Third Policeman is that rare and lovely thing—a truly hallucinatory novel, shot through with fierce logic and intellectual rigor.
It is a lyrical, amoral, funny nightmare: the most disciplined and disturbing product of an always interesting writer. His sins grow with him, making a logical progression from book theft to burglary and murder—all this against a heightened version of poor, rural Ireland: a setting layered with absurd but weirdly recognizable detail. He then stumbles into a potentially fatal alternative reality: a haunting, teasing Irish countryside of parlors and winding roads from which it seems impossible to return.
And there is always the dark humor that both excuses and condemns us. His imprisonment and threatened execution seem even more troubling because they are nonsensical, perhaps even kind. Slowly it becomes clear that, among other things, this novel is about hell—a much-deserved, amusing, irrational, and entirely inescapable hell. Beyond this, The Third Policeman is genuinely indescribable: a book that holds you like a lovely and accusing dream.
Which will be the truth. ALK 8 AO 2. The Nobel Prize—winning master of menacing understatement subtly links exfoliating, abstract power struggles with banal domestic situations in two of his finest plays. The interrogation and abduction of a helpless and perhaps guiltless tenant makes The Birthday Party simultaneously celebrated as an ironic mockery of the phenomena of survival and continuity.
The result is opaque, disturbing, enthralling drama. The author uses a stream of consciousness technique to describe the fraught experiences and often choked-off feelings of a Spanish shopkeeper during the s and s as her nation becomes gripped by civil war and fascism. The play has a kind of baroque richness to both plot and language as Antony and Cleopatra delight in seclusion while the Roman forces opposing them, led by the sober and ambitious Octavius Caesar, close in on the lovers.
Cornered, the emperor and queen bring the play to a suicidal climax that exquisitely fuses sexual pleasure and death. Serialized during wartime, this epic novel chronicles the decline of the Osaka family and the transformation of traditional Japanese society. As their fortunes wither, elder sisters Tsuruko and Sachiko try to preserve the family name and marry off the talented, sensitive Yukiko.
Tanizaki uses detailed descriptions of Japanese traditions, such as the tea ceremony, to underscore their fleetingness in an era of rapid modernization. The desperate alcoholism of Gervaise Lantier and her husband held a mirror to the shocking moral condition of the urban poor. Nana is a low-born courtesan who succeeds among the French elite. Zola meant his heroine to represent the corruption of the Second Empire under the twin stresses of hedonism and capitalism.
But like some uncontrollable genie uncorked from a bottle, she becomes the greatest femme fatale since Helen of Troy. The most explicit of the classic nineteenth-century novels, Nana exists in the vital midpoint between Anna Karenina and Valley of the Dolls.
Though their origins are vague—Aesop may have been born a slave in Asia Minor in b. Its core narrative relates the clashes between two groups of royal Indian cousins—one descended from gods, the other from demons.
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War, disguises, asceticism, drunken brawls, and the god Dharma as a dog swirl through this magical panorama of ancient India, which also includes the famous sermon Bhagavadgita, the Hindu equivalent to the New Testament. In The American Dream he lambasts that concept in a one-act farce featuring an over-the-top dysfunctional family and a murder.
In The Zoo Story, a psychotic loner cannily provokes a complacent bourgeois into killing him. A profound story of Christian faith constructed of the thoughts, half-thoughts, jottings, and observations, the joys and disappointments, of a priest in provincial France. The protagonist suffers through the novel—he is a martyr to a dark, often wicked world. But as he declines, the grace he receives builds. One of the great critiques of Victorian society and morality, this autobiographical novel charts the Pontifex family over several generations.
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In conversations with a chance acquaintance, a once-successful Paris lawyer recounts his fall into psychological self-destruction after ignoring a woman drowning in the Seine. Ultimately, this existential antihero persuades himself that all good works are motivated by self-interest, all virtue merely a ploy for success or popularity. With no hope of redemption, he descends into debauchery and profligacy, impatient for the relative simplicity of death.
Dermout was sixty-seven years old when she debuted with this semiautobiographical novel about a Dutch woman named Felicia raising her son in the Spice Islands of Indonesia.
Her love of life and nature is challenged by violence and murder that bring sadness and summon the courage of resilience. Myshkin a scarcely disguised self-portrait of the author tries again and again to help the people he encounters, only to have his efforts mocked or misunderstood. On the surface a love story, the novel is a contemplation of goodness in the world, and while its conclusions are dark, the portrait of this simple, good man endures.
LShriv 3 BU 6. His stories are shot through with brutal violence and alcohol, characters whoalternate between sanctity and transgression, and tough moral choices. Familial duty has seldom been so sadly rendered, and Eliot drew much from her own childhood in creating Maggie Tulliver and her self-righteous brother Tom.
Passionate Maggie gives up her lover out of propriety and deference to Tom, but the character was thought so wicked that many nineteenth-century girls were forbidden to read this book. Despite having lived with a married man herself, Eliot dealt Maggie a harsh fate. What would you do if the man who promised you love, children, and a throne, after convincing you to slay your brother and exile yourself from your home, decided to marry a richer woman instead?
That she is not punished for this deed is a stunning conclusion to this riveting play. The title poem is considered the signature poem of the Beat generation. What can be seen as a manifesto against the conformist society of America in the s can also be read as a love poem for the promising idea of America.
In a fleabag Scottish motel, divorced and depressed, Jock McLeish once again seeks consolation and strength through massive doses of alcohol and sadomasochistic sexual fantasies some starring a woman named Janine. Through frank, complex language Gray takes us inside the addled mind of a powerless man seeking to impose some control over his life. In the first chapter Michael Henchard sells his wife and child at a country fair. When he meets his forsaken wife Susan and daughter Elizabeth-Jane years later, he is no longer a drunken hay-trusser but mayor of his town.
Henchard has improved his position in life but not his disposition, and this tragedy of misplaced pride, torturous guilt, and immense bitterness is vintage Hardy. Nick Guest is a young gay man desperate for love, the son of a modest antiques dealer who wants to climb the social ladder. The original desperate housewife, pampered Nora Helmer commits forgery for the money she needs to take her sick husband on a lifesaving trip. When her husband discovers her deceit, he is appalled. A brilliant literary colorist, adept with rich jewel tones, earthy pigments, and deep chiaroscuro alike, Mann recalls the Dutch Masters in his painterly command of bourgeois interiors and intimate domestic scenes.
In equally lucid detail, often with tongue in cheek, he probes the psychological depths of his characters as they follow the arc from Enlightenment vigor to Romantic decadence in this sprawling family saga bristling with comedy and pathos. Mann probes the complex tensions between aesthetics and morality, culture and politics, in his trademark dense, precise, endlessly qualified prose.
JB 7 RPri 2. Tartuffe, for example, the Christian hypocrite who attempts to seduce a young virgin, inhabits the same plane of immortality as Falstaff or Don Quixote. The first miracle: A novel built from a strictly limited construction—the description of one single moment in a Paris apartment building—blossoms into an encyclopedia of stories and life spanning centuries, the globe, the history of literature.
The second miracle: A moving, humane novel composed of implausible, even impossible parts. Published in , Life is infinitely entertaining, but it also can change how you see your surroundings; the wall between novel and world leaks.