ghost of miles

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David Vital's "A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789-1939," for the second time:
Having spent ten days in Israel about a month ago, I need to return to Vital’s vast, brilliant book to get a better grasp on some things that now seem fresh and crucial to me, and so far in my re-reading I’m finding what I’m looking for. Strange, less than a month before I turn 72, how much room there still is or seems to be for learning.
Main thing I’m thinking/wondering about is my memory (from a previous reading of Vital) that Zionism was a movement that not only was born of the desperately fraught state of the Jews of Eastern Europe (Russia especially — after Alexander II instituted extremely harsh anti-Jewish measures in 1881, immediately following a wave of pogroms, no less) but also involved (perhaps even was inseparable from) a fundamental and far from incidental turn away from traditional Jewish ways of life — the arguably unworldly devotion to religious study, etc. — because those ways of life were felt to so unworldly. This came to mind because of the clash in Israel these days between the predominantly secular modes of life of most Israelis and the rapidly growing size (and thus the growing political power) of the extreme Orthodox segment of the society. Certain paradoxes seems to be at work here, no? But I need to find out much more about the 19th Century foundations/background.

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Written by our very own umum_cypher.

Full of fascinating insights. Recommended!

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David Vital's "A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789-1939," for the second time:
Having spent ten days in Israel about a month ago, I need to return to Vital’s vast, brilliant book to get a better grasp on some things that now seem fresh and crucial to me, and so far in my re-reading I’m finding what I’m looking for. Strange, less than a month before I turn 72, how much room there still is or seems to be for learning.
Main thing I’m thinking/wondering about is my memory (from a previous reading of Vital) that Zionism was a movement that not only was born of the desperately fraught state of the Jews of Eastern Europe (Russia especially — after Alexander II instituted extremely harsh anti-Jewish measures in 1881, immediately following a wave of pogroms, no less) but also involved (perhaps even was inseparable from) a fundamental and far from incidental turn away from traditional Jewish ways of life — the arguably unworldly devotion to religious study, etc. — because those ways of life were felt to so unworldly. This came to mind because of the clash in Israel these days between the predominantly secular modes of life of most Israelis and the rapidly growing size (and thus the growing political power) of the extreme Orthodox segment of the society. Certain paradoxes seems to be at work here, no? But I need to find out much more about the 19th Century foundations/background.

If you have not read it already, you might want to read George Eliot's novel, Daniel Deronda, one of the first novels to try to address teh "Jewish Question" (as it was then called) and the impulse towards Palestine. It's a neglected masterpiece.

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DeSilva: Cliff Walk (A Liam Mulligan novel)

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I've done something I haven't done in a while: abandoned a few books I attempted and just weren't doing it for me. Now re-reading for about the fifth time "Martian Timeslip."

This pressing.

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I've done something I haven't done in a while: abandoned a few books I attempted and just weren't doing it for me.

It's actually liberating once you decide you are allowed to abandon books. Too many teachers (or nosy internet commentators) claim that you should finish reading everything you start.

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I'll probably get around to them again. It's more my emotional state than the books themselves.

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I find it hard to give up a book once started - the trouble is that if I'm not enjoying it I find other things to do and end up reading nothing for a few weeks until I eventually face reality and start something new.

Just started:

51hIclS9QiL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-stic

Slowly working my way through this very long series of very long books. A marvellous series if you like police procedurals with no pretensions at being 'Literature' (with a capital L).

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Iris Murdoch - THE NICE AND THE GOOD - 1968.

A.N. Wilson almost did Iris in for me, but I decided to read another one of her novels for the principle of the thing. But I think now that I am done, I will put Iris on hold for a while (I still have a handful of her works I have not read) and move on to other authors. Maybe I do have A.N. to thank for that after all.

PS: The book jacket shown here is taken from Bronzino's painting, "Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time," which figures centrally in the book.

Edited by Leeway

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Iris Murdoch - THE NICE AND THE GOOD - 1968.

A.N. Wilson almost did Iris in for me, but I decided to read another one of her novels for the principle of the thing. But I think now that I am done, I will put Iris on hold for a while (I still have a handful of her works I have not read) and move on to other authors.

If you like mid-20th century English female novelists with Irish connections, have you tried Elizabeth Bowen? I'm currently reading her Eva Trout. I strongly recommend The Death of the Heart and The Heat of the Day, but found the avant garde The House in Paris too much to cope with.

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Iris Murdoch - THE NICE AND THE GOOD - 1968.

A.N. Wilson almost did Iris in for me, but I decided to read another one of her novels for the principle of the thing. But I think now that I am done, I will put Iris on hold for a while (I still have a handful of her works I have not read) and move on to other authors.

If you like mid-20th century English female novelists with Irish connections, have you tried Elizabeth Bowen? I'm currently reading her Eva Trout. I strongly recommend The Death of the Heart and The Heat of the Day, but found the avant garde The House in Paris too much to cope with.

Yes, good suggestion. I do have Bowen in mind. I think I read some of her eons ago, but need to revisit the work. There are some funny scenes between her and Iris in Wilson's book that got me thinking more about Bowen too.

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Bowen's "The Little Girls" is superb.

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The only Bowen I own is The House in Paris (love the Matisse cover on my edition).

195993.jpg

I expect to get to this in the later part of the year. If I like it, I'll explore more of her work (even if HiP isn't that representative of her oeuvre).

Edited by ejp626

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Iris Murdoch - THE NICE AND THE GOOD - 1968.

A.N. Wilson almost did Iris in for me, but I decided to read another one of her novels for the principle of the thing. But I think now that I am done, I will put Iris on hold for a while (I still have a handful of her works I have not read) and move on to other authors.

If you like mid-20th century English female novelists with Irish connections, have you tried Elizabeth Bowen? I'm currently reading her Eva Trout. I strongly recommend The Death of the Heart and The Heat of the Day, but found the avant garde The House in Paris too much to cope with.

Yes, good suggestion. I do have Bowen in mind. I think I read some of her eons ago, but need to revisit the work. There are some funny scenes between her and Iris in Wilson's book that got me thinking more about Bowen too.

Just came across this article which suggests that by reading people like Iris Murdoch, we're swimming strongly against the tide of today's literary trends. Hooray! It also mentions the continuing popularity of Barbara Pym. Now there's a good novelist! Have you tried her, Leeway?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/10/literary-reputations-zero-hero-dj-taylor

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51NGMTVFSXL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-stic

Always a good read. The 'Pepys of our time' :) .

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Just came across this article which suggests that by reading people like Iris Murdoch, we're swimming strongly against the tide of today's literary trends. Hooray! It also mentions the continuing popularity of Barbara Pym. Now there's a good novelist! Have you tried her, Leeway?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/10/literary-reputations-zero-hero-dj-taylor

If you really want to swim against the tide, try Molly Keane or better yet Barbara Comyns. The latter has one of the most unique literary voices I've ever come across. I wouldn't want to befriend any of her feckless characters, but the writing is generally quite compelling, and as I think I mentioned before both Keane and Comyns get to the point. Very few of their novels crack the 250 page mark.

That said, I like Barbara Pym quite a bit, when I am in the right mood. I read all her novels in my 20s and recently picked up a box set of them to give them another go, ideally starting next year. I do, perversely, like An Academic Question the best, which most aficionados consider her worst!

I am nearly done with Proust's The Fugitive, then will read Elizabeth Jane Howard's Falling, then Keane's Treasure Hunt and finally Comyns' The House of Dolls (I believe this is her final novel).

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Just came across this article which suggests that by reading people like Iris Murdoch, we're swimming strongly against the tide of today's literary trends. Hooray! It also mentions the continuing popularity of Barbara Pym. Now there's a good novelist! Have you tried her, Leeway?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/10/literary-reputations-zero-hero-dj-taylor

If you really want to swim against the tide, try Molly Keane or better yet Barbara Comyns. The latter has one of the most unique literary voices I've ever come across. I wouldn't want to befriend any of her feckless characters, but the writing is generally quite compelling, and as I think I mentioned before both Keane and Comyns get to the point. Very few of their novels crack the 250 page mark.

That said, I like Barbara Pym quite a bit, when I am in the right mood. I read all her novels in my 20s and recently picked up a box set of them to give them another go, ideally starting next year. I do, perversely, like An Academic Question the best, which most aficionados consider her worst!

I am nearly done with Proust's The Fugitive, then will read Elizabeth Jane Howard's Falling, then Keane's Treasure Hunt and finally Comyns' The House of Dolls (I believe this is her final novel).

Didn't see BillF's comment when it was first posted, so I'll respond to that first. I haven't read any Pym, but my wife has read quite a bit of her and has plenty of titles on her bookshelf, so I should be able to dip into her work. Bayley and A.N Wilson were big fans of Pym. Wilson tells some amusing tales about Pym, and Pym-Iris-Bayley. RE: the linked article, I'm not surprised that Iris' stock has fallen. Bayley's books have done her reputation a lot of harm by turning her image from a serious writer into a crazy old lady in a diaper. Plus she probably wrote too much, but there is a core of work that I think will stay the course.

EJP626, I've not come across Keane or Comyns, really new to me, so I will have to take note of them. Feckless characters sound good to me. Iris has quite a bunch in her work as well. I think what sets Iris apart is the philosophical dimension in her work; for better or worse, sometimes more or less successfully, Iris strives to work serious philosophical concepts or issues into her work. A Platonic novelist ,or maybe sometimes just Plato-Lite. Her formula: plenty of sex and higher thoughts. Maybe based on her own life. Seemed to work in life and art.

Scottish, not Irish, but I like Muriel Spark quite a bit too. Just wanted to get a mention in of her.

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Just came across this article which suggests that by reading people like Iris Murdoch, we're swimming strongly against the tide of today's literary trends. Hooray! It also mentions the continuing popularity of Barbara Pym. Now there's a good novelist! Have you tried her, Leeway?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/10/literary-reputations-zero-hero-dj-taylor

If you really want to swim against the tide, try Molly Keane or better yet Barbara Comyns. The latter has one of the most unique literary voices I've ever come across. I wouldn't want to befriend any of her feckless characters, but the writing is generally quite compelling, and as I think I mentioned before both Keane and Comyns get to the point. Very few of their novels crack the 250 page mark.

That said, I like Barbara Pym quite a bit, when I am in the right mood. I read all her novels in my 20s and recently picked up a box set of them to give them another go, ideally starting next year. I do, perversely, like An Academic Question the best, which most aficionados consider her worst!

I am nearly done with Proust's The Fugitive, then will read Elizabeth Jane Howard's Falling, then Keane's Treasure Hunt and finally Comyns' The House of Dolls (I believe this is her final novel).

Didn't see BillF's comment when it was first posted, so I'll respond to that first. I haven't read any Pym, but my wife has read quite a bit of her and has plenty of titles on her bookshelf, so I should be able to dip into her work. Bayley and A.N Wilson were big fans of Pym. Wilson tells some amusing tales about Pym, and Pym-Iris-Bayley. RE: the linked article, I'm not surprised that Iris' stock has fallen. Bayley's books have done her reputation a lot of harm by turning her image from a serious writer into a crazy old lady in a diaper. Plus she probably wrote too much, but there is a core of work that I think will stay the course.

EJP626, I've not come across Keane or Comyns, really new to me, so I will have to take note of them. Feckless characters sound good to me. Iris has quite a bunch in her work as well. I think what sets Iris apart is the philosophical dimension in her work; for better or worse, sometimes more or less successfully, Iris strives to work serious philosophical concepts or issues into her work. A Platonic novelist ,or maybe sometimes just Plato-Lite. Her formula: plenty of sex and higher thoughts. Maybe based on her own life. Seemed to work in life and art.

Scottish, not Irish, but I like Muriel Spark quite a bit too. Just wanted to get a mention in of her.

Great minds think alike! A return to her is next on my list.

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Just came across this article which suggests that by reading people like Iris Murdoch, we're swimming strongly against the tide of today's literary trends. Hooray! It also mentions the continuing popularity of Barbara Pym. Now there's a good novelist! Have you tried her, Leeway?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/10/literary-reputations-zero-hero-dj-taylor

If you really want to swim against the tide, try Molly Keane or better yet Barbara Comyns. The latter has one of the most unique literary voices I've ever come across. I wouldn't want to befriend any of her feckless characters, but the writing is generally quite compelling, and as I think I mentioned before both Keane and Comyns get to the point. Very few of their novels crack the 250 page mark.

That said, I like Barbara Pym quite a bit, when I am in the right mood. I read all her novels in my 20s and recently picked up a box set of them to give them another go, ideally starting next year. I do, perversely, like An Academic Question the best, which most aficionados consider her worst!

I am nearly done with Proust's The Fugitive, then will read Elizabeth Jane Howard's Falling, then Keane's Treasure Hunt and finally Comyns' The House of Dolls (I believe this is her final novel).

Didn't see BillF's comment when it was first posted, so I'll respond to that first. I haven't read any Pym, but my wife has read quite a bit of her and has plenty of titles on her bookshelf, so I should be able to dip into her work. Bayley and A.N Wilson were big fans of Pym. Wilson tells some amusing tales about Pym, and Pym-Iris-Bayley. RE: the linked article, I'm not surprised that Iris' stock has fallen. Bayley's books have done her reputation a lot of harm by turning her image from a serious writer into a crazy old lady in a diaper. Plus she probably wrote too much, but there is a core of work that I think will stay the course.

EJP626, I've not come across Keane or Comyns, really new to me, so I will have to take note of them. Feckless characters sound good to me. Iris has quite a bunch in her work as well. I think what sets Iris apart is the philosophical dimension in her work; for better or worse, sometimes more or less successfully, Iris strives to work serious philosophical concepts or issues into her work. A Platonic novelist ,or maybe sometimes just Plato-Lite. Her formula: plenty of sex and higher thoughts. Maybe based on her own life. Seemed to work in life and art.

Scottish, not Irish, but I like Muriel Spark quite a bit too. Just wanted to get a mention in of her.

We had a bit of a discussion about Bellow repeating himself. Essentially all of Comyns' books have economic insecurity at their heart, and many have a strong autobiographical component of a feckless young woman who marries an artist and then falls even deeper into poverty when the artist leaves her or dies. This is mixed up at times, so it isn't like reading exactly the same novel over again. In The Skin Chairs the wife is unprepared for life on her own after her husband dies, but not really feckless (that is farmed out to a neighbour). The three most along these lines are: Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (1950); A Touch of Mistletoe (1967) and The Skin Chairs (1962).

Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead (1955) is a different sort of novel with a terrible Grandmother Willoweed (imagine an even darker version of Aunt Ada Doom from Cold Comfort Farm, who is never cured) but the main plot is that some kind of poison got mixed into the flour in the town bakery and half the town is dying. Apparently this was sort of based on a true story from the Netherlands or Belgium. It's quite gothic, but worth a look.

Finally, I have not read The Juniper Tree, but it is supposedly quite good and a sophisticated update of a Grimms' Fairy Tale. I should be able to tackle this in August, since it is held in the Toronto library system. I'd say these are probably the best 5 of her 11 books, but if I really love The House of Dolls, I'll come back and make a note.

Molly Keane, who also wrote as M.J. Farrell, is an Anglo-Irish writer. Her family had one of the big estates in Ireland and mostly did hunting and riding and were not that integrated into the community. They were eventually chased off their estate and the big house burned, though it appears she did stay in Ireland her whole life. While the early novels offer a lot of insight into a way of life that is totally vanished, I think it is the later novels (starting with Good Behaviour) that have the most literary merit. One thing that she is quite good at (maybe even a bit better than Austen) is getting at how relationships between women can be both positive and conflicted.

I'm sure there is quite a good essay in how the women in the early Keane novels do not sustain "community" in the same way that women sustain it in a Pym novel because the English in Ireland were outsiders and held themselves apart, so would never be accepted as the backbone of the church or what have you. I don't have the time to write on that now, however.

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King Author And His Knights Of The Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green. I have to admit, most of my knowledge of King Arthor come from "The Sword In The Stone," which is not the most reliable source out there. Interesting book, and I can see why so many people remember reading it in childhood, and have continued throughout their life.

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The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps: The Best Crime Stories From The Pulps During Their Golden Age -- The 20s, The 30s,& 40s. Slowly making my way through this very enjoyable collection. I've become addicted to pulp fictions lately.

9780307280480_p0_v4_s260x420.JPG

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Ben McIntyre - Agent Zigzag — A True Store of Nazi Esionage, Love, and Betrayal
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This morning I finished Bill Crow's Jazz Anecdotes: Second Time Around.

I read the original edition when it was first out many years ago. This has a few new stories, but not many.

I noticed that, unlike the first edition, this one did not doubt the sincerity of the blacks who became Muslims in the '40s.


The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps: The Best Crime Stories From The Pulps During Their Golden Age -- The 20s, The 30s,& 40s. Slowly making my way through this very enjoyable collection. I've become addicted to pulp fictions lately.

9780307280480_p0_v4_s260x420.JPG

Matthew, if you like that one, you will probably like another of Otto Penzler's books, The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories. I recommend it!

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