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OldAle1
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#401

Post by OldAle1 »

Knaldskalle wrote: April 11th, 2021, 9:02 pm Is this a good time to point out that Neuschwanstein (the castle depicted) isn't a medieval castle? It's fairly new, actually, only ~150 years old.

Real medieval castles tend to be squat with impressively thick walls and cold and clammy (at least these days).
Oh sure, but it's the fantasy and fairytale aspect that appeals - we're talking fiction and movies here for the most part, after all. I think it was probably the first castle I ever saw depicted - in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, probably a defining memory for a lot of kids my age or a bit older. And when I spent a month in Germany the only castles we went to were Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Nowadays I'd imagine a lot of people think of Hogwarts, and of course there are the various Disney castles - modeled on Neuschwanstein probably more than anything else.
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#402

Post by OldAle1 »

Leopardi wrote: April 11th, 2021, 7:42 pm

I definitely recommend Mysteries of London if you like that sort of thing, some storylines are a little dry but there are a lot of juicy bits as well, especially with Volume I. Did you know The Mysteries of Paris was released by Penguin a few years back? I picked up a copy as soon as it was released but haven't had a chance to read it yet. It looks fantastic, though! One of my goals is to pick up as many of the City Mysteries as I can find; I've had no luck so far (beyond Reynolds and Sue, of course), but came very close to picking up a nice copy of The Quaker City from a Philadelphia bookdealer a few years back. I was too slow on the draw, though, and it was sold before I could get it. I'm hoping there will be other opportunities someday.

You know, for years I didn't really have that much of an interest in Canadian history or culture, I blame a not-so-good education in that area that wasn't able to bring it to life for me, but I'm starting to come around, especially at a local level, Yes, I love a good castle, and we're so far from that way of life that it's fascinating to learn about what life was like in those times (even as brutal as it was for those outside the walls!). Your picture looks suspiciously like the jigsaw puzzle I'm doing now! It's been almost twenty years since I visited Neuschwanstein but would love to return someday, both the castle itself and the land surrounding it, such a magical place.

I'm just about done Count Roderic's Castle, a super-quick read that's a good representation of the transition between early- and mid-Gothic lit, you get the occasional spooky scene but the blatant supernatural horror and gore is largely replaced by despicable (but living) villains and political/courtly intrigue. This story is a little clunky and hard to follow at times, short as it is, and doesn't raise the hackles all that much. I'm glad to have read it, but it definitely falls more into the 'cheap' category compared to the more polished output of the 1790s (Radcliffe being the gold standard). I haven't read any of Lathom's books from this decade, but I'd be curious to see how they stack up.

I'll try Life in a Medieval Castle next, since we're talking about it. Here's my list:
Spoiler
1. What's Bred in the Bone (Robertson Davies, 1985). The second novel in Davies' celebrated Cornish Trilogy, this series, and Davies' writing in general, so affected my sister that she actually got a tattoo of the title quote some years ago. Shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.

2. Mysteries (Knut Hamsun, 1892). "Mysteries is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysteries stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer - and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated as a spirit of near tragedy...But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of prussic acid..." (Penguin Classics description). A much-lauded work by one of the creators of the modern novel.

3. The Landslide (Stephen Gilbert, 1943). "Will my poor book ever be read by anyone? It is about a dragon and a sea serpent, and a kind of prehistoric dog and an old man and a boy and a priest. I sent it to a publisher last July and it has been lost ever since. I know it is good...It is unlike any story that has ever been written before." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). An early work by the author of Ratman's Notebooks (the book on which the film Willard was based)

4. The Discourses (Niccolò Machiavelli, 1513). "In this book Machiavelli enshrines his most complete political treatment: his fundamental attachment to republics...For a political republic, he says, is liberty's best bastion, if only its people maintain their civic virtue." (From the back of the Penguin edition).

5. On the Eve (Ivan Turgenev, 1859). "A love story with a tragic ending, On the Eve (1859) portrays the everyday life and scenery of a Russian country estate with the consummate descriptive gift for which its author had already become famous. Much of the novel's pleasure lies in its humorous sketches of the gentry; and its sadness, in Turgenev's fluid and exquisite sense of love's emotional weather." (from the back of the Penguin edition).

6. The Letters of George Gissing to Eduard Bertz 1887-1903 (George Gissing, 1887-1903). "Collection of 189 letters and post card to his German friend Eduard Bertz which provide a record of a part of Gissing's strange life about which there has been speculation and doubt, because they reflect his personality and give a clear picture of how he developed the ideas for his books, how he wrote them and how he was treated by the publishers of the day." (from YesterYear Books). I'm a big fan of The Nether World, one of Gissing's early works that Bertz no doubt influenced, so I'm eager for an inside look into their friendship.

7. A Child's History of England (Charles Dickens, 1851-1853). "The historian as optimist – but not so much for his subject as for its recipients. Fed up with the way British history was presented to children in the mid-nineteenth century, and well-acquainted with the theories of Mr Gradgrind (still with us), Dickens determined upon doing the job ‘for his own dear children’ all by himself." (from Books For Keeps) "Dickens confessed that he was composing the book so that he could prevent his children from embracing 'any conservative or High Church notions.'" (from Wikipedia)

8. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1865-1866). "Crime and Punishment tells how Raskolnikov, a former student, murders an old woman money-lender and her unfortunate sister...A tragic masterpiece, a profound drama of redemption and, according to the critic John Jones, 'the most accessible and exciting novel in the world'." "'An indictment of urban social conditions in nineteenth-century Russia, and a proto-Nietzschean analysis of the 'will to power'...Crime and Punishment is all these things - but it is more' writes David McDuff" (from the back of the book). What more can be said about this title, said by some to be the greatest novel ever written? Easily in the top 3 of books I most want to read.

9. Curios (Richard Marsh, 1898). '"Curios is a series of seven short stories narrated alternately by Mr. Pugh and Mr. Tress, rival collectors of "curios", who are sometimes best of friends and often worst of enemies. Pugh is superstitious, tending to believe every antique he comes across is haunted. Tress is cold and cynical and will stop at nothing - even theft or murder - to add to his collection.Ranging in tone from horrifying to mysterious to darkly comical, these stories follow Tress and Pugh as they come in contact with an array of strange objects, including a poisoned pipe that seems to come to life when smoked, a 14th century severed hand bent on murder, and a phonograph record on which a murdered woman speaks from beyond the grave." (from the back of the book). Another supernatural page-turner from Richard Marsh, hot off his great success the previous year with The Beetle.

10. The Nature of the Gods (Cicero, 45 BCE). "Towards the end of his life, Cicero turned away from his oratorical and political career and looked instead to matters of philosophy and religion. The dialogue The Nature of the Gods both explores his own views on these subjects, as a monotheist and member of the Academic School, and considers the opinion of other philosophical schools of the Hellenistic age through the figures of Velleius the Epicurean and Balbus the Stoic. Eloquent, clearly argued and surprisingly modern, it focuses upon a series of fundamental religious questions including: is there a God? If so, does he answer prayers, or intervene in human affairs? Does he know the future? Does morality need the support of religion? Profoundly influential on later thinkers, such as Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, this is a fascinating consideration of fundamental issues of faith and philosophical thought."
Thanks for all the links, and thanks Knalds also for reminders about other retail sites. I have mostly spent my online money on eBay and Amazon over the last few years, which are generally fine but a) I'd like to stop giving my money to the big dogs if possible, at least sometimes and b) I've had a few issues of bad luck with shipping - books getting a little damaged. Funny, it NEVER happens with DVD/Blu or CDs but I've had at least a half-dozen books show up with corners dinged over the last 5 years. I guess you really have to be willing to pay more, and go with the guys that promise good packaging if you care about condition - at least on cheaper items. I think when I've paid a little bit more for something, particularly on eBay, it's usually been properly packaged.

Will put the Mysteries of Paris on my want-list - looks like that edition came out in 2015 so probably it wasn't available when last I looked for it. Time flies.
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#403

Post by Leopardi »

Knaldskalle wrote: April 11th, 2021, 9:02 pm Is this a good time to point out that Neuschwanstein (the castle depicted) isn't a medieval castle? It's fairly new, actually, only ~150 years old.

Real medieval castles tend to be squat with impressively thick walls and cold and clammy (at least these days).
Haha, yes, they definitely didn't build them like that back in the day, but I love the old stubby ones, too. Why have we not yet compiled a list of favourite castles yet on this site? Just for a little while, couldn't ICM be icheckmoats.com? Is that too much to ask?
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#404

Post by Leopardi »

OldAle1 wrote: April 11th, 2021, 9:13 pm
Thanks for all the links, and thanks Knalds also for reminders about other retail sites. I have mostly spent my online money on eBay and Amazon over the last few years, which are generally fine but a) I'd like to stop giving my money to the big dogs if possible, at least sometimes and b) I've had a few issues of bad luck with shipping - books getting a little damaged. Funny, it NEVER happens with DVD/Blu or CDs but I've had at least a half-dozen books show up with corners dinged over the last 5 years. I guess you really have to be willing to pay more, and go with the guys that promise good packaging if you care about condition - at least on cheaper items. I think when I've paid a little bit more for something, particularly on eBay, it's usually been properly packaged.

Will put the Mysteries of Paris on my want-list - looks like that edition came out in 2015 so probably it wasn't available when last I looked for it. Time flies.
Yeah, I've been burnt a few times with poor shipping on books, bent corners, ungodly cover creases and scrapes, all that stuff, I used to send them back for a refund but I hate the hassle. Thankfully I'm doing less Amazon and more direct-from-publisher stuff these days which, I agree, shows the books more respect and, as you point out, gets away from the retail goliaths out there, which is a nice bonus.
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#405

Post by funkybusiness »

Leopardi wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:02 pm
Knaldskalle wrote: April 11th, 2021, 9:02 pm Is this a good time to point out that Neuschwanstein (the castle depicted) isn't a medieval castle? It's fairly new, actually, only ~150 years old.

Real medieval castles tend to be squat with impressively thick walls and cold and clammy (at least these days).
Haha, yes, they definitely didn't build them like that back in the day, but I love the old stubby ones, too. Why have we not yet compiled a list of favourite castles yet on this site? Just for a little while, couldn't ICM be icheckmoats.com? Is that too much to ask?
Frédéric Chaubin has a new collection coming from Taschen next month focusing on medieval castles (sensational title says ancient, blehhh). His previous book, CCCP, featuring late soviet-era, mostly brutalist, architecture, is recommended. If you're into photography books, that is.
preview of the stone castles book -> https://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalo ... europe.htm
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#406

Post by blocho »

My brother has that CCCP book. It's phenomenal.
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#407

Post by Knaldskalle »

blocho wrote: April 12th, 2021, 3:44 pm My brother has that CCCP book. It's phenomenal.
Was it you who professed a love for brutalist architecture some years ago? I know there was one iCM'er who posted about it, but I'm not sure who it was. It was in connection with the Lincoln Center in New York, but of course I don't remember who said it, only what was said.
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#408

Post by OldAle1 »

Knaldskalle wrote: April 13th, 2021, 4:59 am
blocho wrote: April 12th, 2021, 3:44 pm My brother has that CCCP book. It's phenomenal.
Was it you who professed a love for brutalist architecture some years ago? I know there was one iCM'er who posted about it, but I'm not sure who it was. It was in connection with the Lincoln Center in New York, but of course I don't remember who said it, only what was said.
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1615&p=226200&hili ... st#p226200
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#409

Post by brokenface »

fwiw, this was the series referred to: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt12213652/

can find here: https://vimeo.com/meadesshrine
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#410

Post by blocho »

Knaldskalle wrote: April 13th, 2021, 4:59 am
blocho wrote: April 12th, 2021, 3:44 pm My brother has that CCCP book. It's phenomenal.
Was it you who professed a love for brutalist architecture some years ago? I know there was one iCM'er who posted about it, but I'm not sure who it was. It was in connection with the Lincoln Center in New York, but of course I don't remember who said it, only what was said.
I actually hate brutalist architecture. My favorite book about architecture is Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House, so I clearly have a fairly low opinion of modern architecture in general. There's some stuff I like, but I think architecture and art in the twentieth century often represented the triumph of theory and concept over visual, emotional, or visceral experience.
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#411

Post by OldAle1 »

blocho wrote: April 13th, 2021, 6:12 pm
Knaldskalle wrote: April 13th, 2021, 4:59 am
blocho wrote: April 12th, 2021, 3:44 pm My brother has that CCCP book. It's phenomenal.
Was it you who professed a love for brutalist architecture some years ago? I know there was one iCM'er who posted about it, but I'm not sure who it was. It was in connection with the Lincoln Center in New York, but of course I don't remember who said it, only what was said.
I actually hate brutalist architecture. My favorite book about architecture is Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House, so I clearly have a fairly low opinion of modern architecture in general. There's some stuff I like, but I think architecture and art in the twentieth century often represented the triumph of theory and concept over visual, emotional, or visceral experience.
I don't disagree with this generally but I have to say I've been developing more interest in modernist styles over the past few years; used to hate Frank Lloyd Wright for example but have developed at least a grudging respect for some of his work (visiting it certainly helps and I live in the epicenter of Wright's universe). Here are a couple of buildings I'm still not sure what to make of - one I used extensively for four years in the 80s:

Image

and the other is where I saw Sátántangó last February, and also the last film I saw in the cinema to date, just as the pandemic was beginning

Image

Yah, both fairly ugly buildings all in all. Universities - at least the ones I'm most familiar with - seem to have gone from mostly Gothic or Victorian styles straight into late modernism and alas I don't usually find either all that entrancing.

I guess we should start an architecture thread or something already.
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#412

Post by blocho »

OldAle1 wrote: April 13th, 2021, 6:32 pm
I guess we should start an architecture thread or something already.
Done:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=5416&p=704642#p704642
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#413

Post by Leopardi »

funkybusiness wrote: April 12th, 2021, 8:07 am
Leopardi wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:02 pm
Knaldskalle wrote: April 11th, 2021, 9:02 pm Is this a good time to point out that Neuschwanstein (the castle depicted) isn't a medieval castle? It's fairly new, actually, only ~150 years old.

Real medieval castles tend to be squat with impressively thick walls and cold and clammy (at least these days).
Haha, yes, they definitely didn't build them like that back in the day, but I love the old stubby ones, too. Why have we not yet compiled a list of favourite castles yet on this site? Just for a little while, couldn't ICM be icheckmoats.com? Is that too much to ask?
Frédéric Chaubin has a new collection coming from Taschen next month focusing on medieval castles (sensational title says ancient, blehhh). His previous book, CCCP, featuring late soviet-era, mostly brutalist, architecture, is recommended. If you're into photography books, that is.
preview of the stone castles book -> https://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalo ... europe.htm
Thanks! We finally took care of the dozens of boxes of books that have been sitting in our front room for the last year and a half and now have some furniture in there - this might be a good candidate for a coffee table book.

I've finished Life in a Medieval Castle. Not bad, although I found there was maybe a little too much overlap with the other book of theirs, Life in a Medieval Village (not sure if that's a fair criticism - part of the book goes into the life of peasants tied to the castle, and those peasants would have lived in villages, after all). Some photographs that would have been instructive were so underexposed as to be useless, and the text came off as something you'd pick up at a museum bookstore, covering what needed to be covered but not really going as in-depth as I would have liked.

I'll choose Machiavelli's Discourses for myself next, since it's maybe the least exciting book on the list and I'd like to get it out of the way.

Here's my list:
Spoiler
1. Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns) In 1903 there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire nation and most people had never seen a “horseless buggy”—but that did not stop Horatio Nelson Jackson, a thirty-one-year-old Vermont doctor, who impulsively bet fifty dollars that he could drive his 20-horsepower automobile from San Francisco to New York City. Here—in Jackson’s own words and photographs—is a glorious account of that months-long, problem-beset, thrilling-to-the-rattled-bones trip with his mechanic, Sewall Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud. (from book jacket). I loved the documentary and this has been sitting on my shelf for almost 15 years, I bet, so it's due to be read.

2. The Printer's Devil (Bill Fairbairn) "Bill Fairbairn started as a printer's devil in Scotland setting up newspaper headlines by hand 60 years ago. His vagabond reporter years in three continents followed in quick pursuit. This tale outlines some of the people and events he encountered in Canada working for newspapers, radio and magazine." I met this fellow at a book fair a few years ago and picked up his book since he (and it) sounded interesting. Time to give it a try!

3. George & Rue (George Elliott Clarke) "A masterful blend of fiction and reality from one of Canada's most daring and original writers", Clarke takes us to the ghettos of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and paints a miserable and suffocating portrait of mid-century Africadian life. Mr. Clarke was Canada's former Poet Laureate, a winner of the Governor General's Award for poetry, and has been at the Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair the last two years. He seems to have a friendly and dynamic personality and I'd like to read this, his first novel, before I speak to him at next year's fair (if he's there, and if I can build up the courage to).

4. Nonlinear Fiber Optics (Govind P. Agrawal) This title belongs on the list perhaps more than any other. It's considered the Bible of modern fiber optics (one of them, anyway), which is the field in which I work, so I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read it yet, even though it's been sitting on my shelf for years now.

5. Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (Norman Davies) "Europe's history is littered with kingdoms, duchies, empires and republics which have now disappeared but which were once fixtures on the map of their age. What happened to the once-great Mediterranean 'Empire of Aragon'? Where did the half-forgotten kingdoms of Burgundy go?...This original and enthralling book peers through the cracks of history to discover the stories of lost realms across the centuries." (from the back of the Penguin edition)

6. Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s (Liza Picard) "Making use of every possible contemporary source diaries, memoirs, advice books, government papers, almanacs, even the Register of Patents Liza Picard presents a picture of how life in London was really lived in the 1600s: the houses and streets, gardens and parks, cooking, clothes and jewellery, cosmetics, hairdressing, housework, laundry and shopping, medicine and dentistry, sex, education, hobbies, etiquette, law and crime, religion and popular beliefs." (from Goodreads)

7. Dr. Johnson's Lichfield (Mary Alden Hopkins) "A portrait of Dr. Samuel Johnson, focusing on his life before the publication of Boswell's Life of Johnson, in his home town of Lichfield. Several historic figures, including James Watt, Erasmus Darwin, as well as Richard and his daughter Maria Edgeworth, are also featured." (from Goodreads)

8. Singing Tales Of Africa (Adjai Robinson). "In this book, Adjai Robinson has retold seven of his favorite singing tales - tales that are meant to be shared...Included is the story of greedy Bra Spider who becomes the finest dancer that ever was seen; the lazy dog who caused death to come to the world; Ijomah, the mistreated stepchild who discovers she has a magical power over her fruit trees." (From the dust jacket) I really enjoyed The Palm Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and thought I'd delve a little deeper into Yoruban folk tales. This collection from 1974 looks like a great place to start.

9. Vera Vorontzoff (Sofia Kovalevskaya) "A young Russian noblewoman wishes to dedicate herself to a cause but finds herself descending into nihilism." (from Goodreads) A semi-autobiographical novel by the extraordinary mathematician and feminist Sofia Kovalevskaya.

10. Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age (Annalee Newitz) "Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today." (from the dust jacket) I just picked this one up a week or two ago since it sounded interesting.
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#414

Post by Carmel1379 »

Thanks Leopardi, I've added you as a friend, because it's not customary for me -- as a 23 year old -- to ignore people or delete vast swaths of message boards.

I have illegally downloaded this book and here's an excerpt:
Spoiler
“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together, for it implied — as had been said at Nuremberg over and over again by the defendants and their counsels — that this new type of criminal, who is in actual fact hostis generis humani, commits his crimes under circumstances that make it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he is doing wrong. - Hannah Arendt
I have deactivated my fb account (kept messenger) and reactivated my twitter account.

Signature forthcoming.
arittake no yume (nikki) o kaki atsume & I suppose I’ll have to add the force of gravity to my list of enemies

:imdb: IMDb Revolutions :letbxd: exwordpress blue :ICM:
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#415

Post by Leopardi »

I've finished Machiavelli's Discourses, and this could be a long review or a short one, but since I'm chronically short of time I'll opt for the latter. It's been at least three decades since I read The Prince, so my memory of it is very spotty, but I seem to remember it being drier than I was expecting it to be. It's more of the same with The Discourses, I'll be honest, not only because I've never been a poli sci wonk, but also because Machiavelli's arguments seemed quite weak. There's a reason for this: These are the discourses on Livy, in other words, he's dissecting the first ten books of Livy's History of Rome, and so his arguments repeatedly follow the same format:

a) Here is a gloss of Livy
b) Here is the principle I think we can learn from this chapter in history
c) Here's my spin on how this applies to modern (i.e. 16th century Italian) politics

End of story. Rarely does he really go beyond citing an example and applying his political views, as though one or two or three examples are enough to cover what is invariably a complex topic that deserves a more exhaustive treatment. There are exceptions, most notably his chapter on conspiracies, which is several times longer than any other chapter, but by and large these are smallish chapters that leave you wanting more.

This is not to say the book has nothing going for it. Some chapters are juicy, it's fun watching Machiavelli dance around the extremely delicate topic of tyrannicide (consider the times he was living in), and you can't help but respect his view (probably unpopular among the oligarchy) that many political decisions are best left to the people, or someone elected by and representing the people rather than, say, a king. Keep in mind that this volume was no doubt a very influential early work advocating for (small r) republicanism, flying in the face of casual readers that have taken a few quotes from his most popular text ("The ends justify the means blah blah blah"), The Prince, and paint Machiavelli not as a complex, intelligent and influential individual but as a soulless caricature of himself.

That's not to say there's a little monster in him. One of the later chapters deals with how to deal with deep divisions between rival factions within a state. He offers three options:

1) Find a compromise between the two sides so that everyone can live in peace
2) Run the worst offenders out of town and banish them so they don't stir up more trouble
3) Just kill the guys in charge, easy peasy

Guess which one he opts for? And he does it with a casual "I mean, obviously this is the answer" coolness that is just one example of why much of what is contained in this book just won't fly in today's political philosophy (outside of the modern day dictatorships, of course). Even, better, the example from Livy he cites has the leaders solving the problem with banishment, and yet he still goes with "Nah, just kill 'em". Man, the middle ages were a tough time to live.

So, it's hard to judge this one. Is it an important work? Absolutely, without a doubt. Is it problematic? Oh hell yes, I haven't even gotten into his chapter on 'the trouble with women' (and won't). Is it exciting reading? Unfortunately not so much, aside from a chapter here and there, spread over more than 500 pages of political philosophy you can't really use. Should I have read The History of Rome before reading this book? Probably, and so I might be judging this work too harshly, since I can't gauge how sophisticated his interpretations of Livy are, and probably would have found this more interesting had I done so.

In support of Juneteenth I'll pick George & Rue next, to learn a little more of the struggle north of the border. Here's my list:
Spoiler
1. What's Bred in the Bone (Robertson Davies, 1985). The second novel in Davies' celebrated Cornish Trilogy, this series, and Davies' writing in general, so affected my sister that she actually got a tattoo of the title quote some years ago. Shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.

2. Mysteries (Knut Hamsun, 1892). "Mysteries is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysteries stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer - and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated as a spirit of near tragedy...But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of prussic acid..." (Penguin Classics description). A much-lauded work by one of the creators of the modern novel.

3. The Landslide (Stephen Gilbert, 1943). "Will my poor book ever be read by anyone? It is about a dragon and a sea serpent, and a kind of prehistoric dog and an old man and a boy and a priest. I sent it to a publisher last July and it has been lost ever since. I know it is good...It is unlike any story that has ever been written before." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). An early work by the author of Ratman's Notebooks (the book on which the film Willard was based)

4. On the Eve (Ivan Turgenev, 1859). "A love story with a tragic ending, On the Eve (1859) portrays the everyday life and scenery of a Russian country estate with the consummate descriptive gift for which its author had already become famous. Much of the novel's pleasure lies in its humorous sketches of the gentry; and its sadness, in Turgenev's fluid and exquisite sense of love's emotional weather." (from the back of the Penguin edition).

5. The Letters of George Gissing to Eduard Bertz 1887-1903 (George Gissing, 1887-1903). "Collection of 189 letters and post card to his German friend Eduard Bertz which provide a record of a part of Gissing's strange life about which there has been speculation and doubt, because they reflect his personality and give a clear picture of how he developed the ideas for his books, how he wrote them and how he was treated by the publishers of the day." (from YesterYear Books). I'm a big fan of The Nether World, one of Gissing's early works that Bertz no doubt influenced, so I'm eager for an inside look into their friendship.

6. A Child's History of England (Charles Dickens, 1851-1853). "The historian as optimist – but not so much for his subject as for its recipients. Fed up with the way British history was presented to children in the mid-nineteenth century, and well-acquainted with the theories of Mr Gradgrind (still with us), Dickens determined upon doing the job ‘for his own dear children’ all by himself." (from Books For Keeps) "Dickens confessed that he was composing the book so that he could prevent his children from embracing 'any conservative or High Church notions.'" (from Wikipedia)

7. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1865-1866). "Crime and Punishment tells how Raskolnikov, a former student, murders an old woman money-lender and her unfortunate sister...A tragic masterpiece, a profound drama of redemption and, according to the critic John Jones, 'the most accessible and exciting novel in the world'." "'An indictment of urban social conditions in nineteenth-century Russia, and a proto-Nietzschean analysis of the 'will to power'...Crime and Punishment is all these things - but it is more' writes David McDuff" (from the back of the book). What more can be said about this title, said by some to be the greatest novel ever written? Easily in the top 3 of books I most want to read.

8. Curios (Richard Marsh, 1898). '"Curios is a series of seven short stories narrated alternately by Mr. Pugh and Mr. Tress, rival collectors of "curios", who are sometimes best of friends and often worst of enemies. Pugh is superstitious, tending to believe every antique he comes across is haunted. Tress is cold and cynical and will stop at nothing - even theft or murder - to add to his collection.Ranging in tone from horrifying to mysterious to darkly comical, these stories follow Tress and Pugh as they come in contact with an array of strange objects, including a poisoned pipe that seems to come to life when smoked, a 14th century severed hand bent on murder, and a phonograph record on which a murdered woman speaks from beyond the grave." (from the back of the book). Another supernatural page-turner from Richard Marsh, hot off his great success the previous year with The Beetle.

9. The Nature of the Gods (Cicero, 45 BCE). "Towards the end of his life, Cicero turned away from his oratorical and political career and looked instead to matters of philosophy and religion. The dialogue The Nature of the Gods both explores his own views on these subjects, as a monotheist and member of the Academic School, and considers the opinion of other philosophical schools of the Hellenistic age through the figures of Velleius the Epicurean and Balbus the Stoic. Eloquent, clearly argued and surprisingly modern, it focuses upon a series of fundamental religious questions including: is there a God? If so, does he answer prayers, or intervene in human affairs? Does he know the future? Does morality need the support of religion? Profoundly influential on later thinkers, such as Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, this is a fascinating consideration of fundamental issues of faith and philosophical thought."

10. Scrambles Amongst the Alps in the Years 1860-69 & Down the Rhine (Edward Whymper and Lady Blanche Murphy, 1871). "One of the real classics within the adventure genre. The book is a time witness from the decades when the alps were still unexplored, when pedestrianism were a sport and when six bottle of wines, one bottle of whiskey and two cigars was adequate packing for the conquering of a four thousand meter high peak. The conquest of Matterhorn is of course the highlight and a must read for anyone going to climb in the alps." (review by Goodreads user Matias - thanks!). I picked this one up at an antiquarian book fair because it looked just far too great to turn down. My only reluctance with this one is that I'd prefer to be reading it while traveling the Alps myself.
Last edited by Leopardi on June 22nd, 2021, 12:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#416

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Thanks for the write-up on Machiavelli. It was very interesting.
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#417

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Thanks, my friend!
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#418

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I finished George & Rue, and was very pleasantly surprised by it. Clarke really brought to life the Nova Scotian Africadian language and culture (at least to my ignorant ears) and crafted a riveting tale of two young men of colour (part Mi'kmaq and part Black) from a poverty-stricken and troubled family that struggle to survive and wind up running afoul of the law. The novel is based on the true story of Clarke's cousins that he only learned of from his mother shortly before his death. I wasn't sure what to expect but I wound up devouring this slender volume in two sittings, and I'll be ordering his only other novel (The Motorcyclist) soon, as well as his memoirs that will be released in August. If that's not a ringing endorsement I don't know what is. I'm relieved that if I see Dr. Clarke at the Antiquarian Book Fair this fall I'll be able to give him the praise he absolutely deserves.

I'll pick The Letters of George Gissing to Eduard Bertz, 1887-1903 next. Here's my list:
Spoiler
1. Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns) In 1903 there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire nation and most people had never seen a “horseless buggy”—but that did not stop Horatio Nelson Jackson, a thirty-one-year-old Vermont doctor, who impulsively bet fifty dollars that he could drive his 20-horsepower automobile from San Francisco to New York City. Here—in Jackson’s own words and photographs—is a glorious account of that months-long, problem-beset, thrilling-to-the-rattled-bones trip with his mechanic, Sewall Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud. (from book jacket). I loved the documentary and this has been sitting on my shelf for almost 15 years, I bet, so it's due to be read.

2. The Printer's Devil (Bill Fairbairn) "Bill Fairbairn started as a printer's devil in Scotland setting up newspaper headlines by hand 60 years ago. His vagabond reporter years in three continents followed in quick pursuit. This tale outlines some of the people and events he encountered in Canada working for newspapers, radio and magazine." I met this fellow at a book fair a few years ago and picked up his book since he (and it) sounded interesting. Time to give it a try!

3. Nonlinear Fiber Optics (Govind P. Agrawal) This title belongs on the list perhaps more than any other. It's considered the Bible of modern fiber optics (one of them, anyway), which is the field in which I work, so I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read it yet, even though it's been sitting on my shelf for years now.

4. Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (Norman Davies) "Europe's history is littered with kingdoms, duchies, empires and republics which have now disappeared but which were once fixtures on the map of their age. What happened to the once-great Mediterranean 'Empire of Aragon'? Where did the half-forgotten kingdoms of Burgundy go?...This original and enthralling book peers through the cracks of history to discover the stories of lost realms across the centuries." (from the back of the Penguin edition)

5. Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s (Liza Picard) "Making use of every possible contemporary source diaries, memoirs, advice books, government papers, almanacs, even the Register of Patents Liza Picard presents a picture of how life in London was really lived in the 1600s: the houses and streets, gardens and parks, cooking, clothes and jewellery, cosmetics, hairdressing, housework, laundry and shopping, medicine and dentistry, sex, education, hobbies, etiquette, law and crime, religion and popular beliefs." (from Goodreads)

6. Dr. Johnson's Lichfield (Mary Alden Hopkins) "A portrait of Dr. Samuel Johnson, focusing on his life before the publication of Boswell's Life of Johnson, in his home town of Lichfield. Several historic figures, including James Watt, Erasmus Darwin, as well as Richard and his daughter Maria Edgeworth, are also featured." (from Goodreads)

7. Singing Tales Of Africa (Adjai Robinson). "In this book, Adjai Robinson has retold seven of his favorite singing tales - tales that are meant to be shared...Included is the story of greedy Bra Spider who becomes the finest dancer that ever was seen; the lazy dog who caused death to come to the world; Ijomah, the mistreated stepchild who discovers she has a magical power over her fruit trees." (From the dust jacket) I really enjoyed The Palm Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and thought I'd delve a little deeper into Yoruban folk tales. This collection from 1974 looks like a great place to start.

8. Vera Vorontzoff (Sofia Kovalevskaya) "A young Russian noblewoman wishes to dedicate herself to a cause but finds herself descending into nihilism." (from Goodreads) A semi-autobiographical novel by the extraordinary mathematician and feminist Sofia Kovalevskaya.

9. Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age (Annalee Newitz) "Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today." (from the dust jacket) I just picked this one up a week or two ago since it sounded interesting.

10. Henry James: The Untried Years 1843-1870 (Leon Edel) The first of five volumes by eminent Jamesian biographer Leon Edel. While this collection notoriously falls short on the topic of James' sexuality, it has nevertheless been highly praise, with The Washington Post calling it "The greatest single work of biography produced in our century." Let's see if it lives up to the hype.
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#419

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Slaughterhouse-Five reignited my interest in reading. I've now started an indigenous Canadian book that a friend mailed me last year, The Bushman and the Spirits by Barney Leconte.
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#420

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kongs_speech wrote: July 12th, 2021, 4:46 pm Slaughterhouse-Five reignited my interest in reading. I've now started an indigenous Canadian book that a friend mailed me last year, The Bushman and the Spirits by Barney Leconte.
Sounds like it has potential - let us know how it goes! My most anticipated Indigenous Canadian book right now is Life Among the Qallunaat, about Mini Aodla Freeman's trip down from James Bay to Ottawa and her experiences there (or, rather, here, since I live in Ottawa!). Its publication was apparently suppressed for a while (three years according to Wikipedia, 8 months according to this article) because of its discussion of Inuit relocation and residential schools, the latter of which is much in the news in Canada these days. My partner read it a couple of years ago and loved it, I'm still looking to pick up a first edition (only edition? It can be hard to find and might have only had a single printed edition, I'm not sure) but I'll track it down soon, I'm sure. It sounds fantastic.
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#421

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I've finished The Letters of George Gissing to Eduard Bertz, 1887-1903, which was not only entertaining but gave a good behind-the-scenes look at Gissing and his writing. Now that I've finished the book I can talk a little bit about Bertz, whom I knew very little about beforehand. The two met back in 1879 when a twenty-six year old Bertz took out an ad looking for intellectual companionship. Gissing (a little younger at twenty-one years old), fancying himself a budding intellectual, responded to the ad and the two became fast and lifelong friends. Bertz was a Socialist who had fled Germnay, and made a meager living as a literary and social critic, turning to writing children's stories and novels as well later in life. He had, as far as I can tell, two literary/philosophical heroes: Walt Whitman (who was also a pen pal for some time. The story goes that at one point Whitman, excited about his new fan, sent a bunch of newspaper clippings and photographs about himself, to which Bertz took offense, thinking him a typical American showman overselling himself. The letters suggest there might also have been a budding concern about Whitman's sexuality), and Friedrich Nietzsche (he wrote at least one book on him but I've never heard of it and likely will never read it, I don't think much from Bertz was translated from German), likening the two as the world's two foremost free spirits.

It's a fun book in places, reading about the two of them just laying into Kipling (after both expressing great admiration for him a few years earlier) for writing Stalky & Co., worried about whether people will think this is how Britons really behave, having Gissing grouse jealously about his good friend, none other than H.G. Wells, who has a telephone and how he'd never be able to obtain one (too expensive, I assume), and reading about Gissing and Bertz arguing about whether that new invention, the bicycle (Wells, I think, taught Gissing how to ride a bike, and the latter over-exerted himself with it to such an extent early on that he felt it gave him lasting injuries, he died not many years later) deserved a proper lane of its own alongside roads and sidewalks (we still have that debate today here in Ottawa).

The downsides to this volume are few:

- First, we're missing the juiciest bits. This is not the fault of the editor, from what I understand Gissing and Bertz agreed to destroy all correspondence from the period when Gissing's first wife descended into ill health and alcoholism, eventually dying in 1888 (this is the reason the book starts off in 1887, ten years after Gissing and Bertz met). But from a purely voyeuristic point of view, it would have been a very interesting read, I think

- Tying into the first point, the discussions are generally superficial between the two and it would have been better to have a more in-depth personal look into Gissing's thoughts and philosophy. There is mention in the copious footnotes of Gissing's diary, which I think would be an excellent complement to this volume

- This one's less forgivable: The editor left most of the non-English quotations in their original language - there's French, Italian, Latin, German and Greek here, and only the last has a proper translation in place. With so many footnotes already there, it didn't seem like it would be overly difficult to provide translations there, so why not do it?

The most surprising revelation from this book was just how elitist the great defender of the poor and downstrodden could be. One of the early letters gives a particularly abhorrent observation from when he was visiting the Sistine Chapel:
And in this place let me say how exasperating it is to see the kind of people who constitute the mass of foreign visitors to Rome. As sure as ever the English language fell on my ear, so surely did I hear words of ignorance or vulgarity! Impossible to describe the vulgarity of most of these people. Many of them are absolute shop-boys and work-girls. How in heaven's name do they get enough money to come here? And where are the good cultured people? And how it enrages one to think of the numbers of those who could make noble use of this opportunity, if only it were granted them. Every day I saw people whom I should like to have assaulted. What business have these gross animals in such places?"
Gissing later repudiated this harsh outburst, but yikes! Having said that, I think we've all been there at one point or another, in an awe-inspiring place (the Sistine Chapel comes to mind) only to find it overrun by tourists (like ourselves) and, yeah, it can be frustrating. Gissing is human, I guess.

I'll pick Singing Tales of Africa next (I'd pick one of the first two on the list but I've put them on a shelf with doors and accidentally put a mountain of boxes in front of them, too lazy to rescue them right now) and, since it's short, I'll throw in the similar Tales of Mogho: African Stories from Upper Volta as well. Here's my list:
Spoiler
1. What's Bred in the Bone (Robertson Davies, 1985). The second novel in Davies' celebrated Cornish Trilogy, this series, and Davies' writing in general, so affected my sister that she actually got a tattoo of the title quote some years ago. Shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.

2. Mysteries (Knut Hamsun, 1892). "Mysteries is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysteries stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer - and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated as a spirit of near tragedy...But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of prussic acid..." (Penguin Classics description). A much-lauded work by one of the creators of the modern novel.

3. The Landslide (Stephen Gilbert, 1943). "Will my poor book ever be read by anyone? It is about a dragon and a sea serpent, and a kind of prehistoric dog and an old man and a boy and a priest. I sent it to a publisher last July and it has been lost ever since. I know it is good...It is unlike any story that has ever been written before." (from the back of the Valancourt edition). An early work by the author of Ratman's Notebooks (the book on which the film Willard was based)

4. On the Eve (Ivan Turgenev, 1859). "A love story with a tragic ending, On the Eve (1859) portrays the everyday life and scenery of a Russian country estate with the consummate descriptive gift for which its author had already become famous. Much of the novel's pleasure lies in its humorous sketches of the gentry; and its sadness, in Turgenev's fluid and exquisite sense of love's emotional weather." (from the back of the Penguin edition).

5. A Child's History of England (Charles Dickens, 1851-1853). "The historian as optimist – but not so much for his subject as for its recipients. Fed up with the way British history was presented to children in the mid-nineteenth century, and well-acquainted with the theories of Mr Gradgrind (still with us), Dickens determined upon doing the job ‘for his own dear children’ all by himself." (from Books For Keeps) "Dickens confessed that he was composing the book so that he could prevent his children from embracing 'any conservative or High Church notions.'" (from Wikipedia)

6. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1865-1866). "Crime and Punishment tells how Raskolnikov, a former student, murders an old woman money-lender and her unfortunate sister...A tragic masterpiece, a profound drama of redemption and, according to the critic John Jones, 'the most accessible and exciting novel in the world'." "'An indictment of urban social conditions in nineteenth-century Russia, and a proto-Nietzschean analysis of the 'will to power'...Crime and Punishment is all these things - but it is more' writes David McDuff" (from the back of the book). What more can be said about this title, said by some to be the greatest novel ever written? Easily in the top 3 of books I most want to read.

7. Curios (Richard Marsh, 1898). '"Curios is a series of seven short stories narrated alternately by Mr. Pugh and Mr. Tress, rival collectors of "curios", who are sometimes best of friends and often worst of enemies. Pugh is superstitious, tending to believe every antique he comes across is haunted. Tress is cold and cynical and will stop at nothing - even theft or murder - to add to his collection.Ranging in tone from horrifying to mysterious to darkly comical, these stories follow Tress and Pugh as they come in contact with an array of strange objects, including a poisoned pipe that seems to come to life when smoked, a 14th century severed hand bent on murder, and a phonograph record on which a murdered woman speaks from beyond the grave." (from the back of the book). Another supernatural page-turner from Richard Marsh, hot off his great success the previous year with The Beetle.

8. The Nature of the Gods (Cicero, 45 BCE). "Towards the end of his life, Cicero turned away from his oratorical and political career and looked instead to matters of philosophy and religion. The dialogue The Nature of the Gods both explores his own views on these subjects, as a monotheist and member of the Academic School, and considers the opinion of other philosophical schools of the Hellenistic age through the figures of Velleius the Epicurean and Balbus the Stoic. Eloquent, clearly argued and surprisingly modern, it focuses upon a series of fundamental religious questions including: is there a God? If so, does he answer prayers, or intervene in human affairs? Does he know the future? Does morality need the support of religion? Profoundly influential on later thinkers, such as Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, this is a fascinating consideration of fundamental issues of faith and philosophical thought."

9. Scrambles Amongst the Alps in the Years 1860-69 & Down the Rhine (Edward Whymper and Lady Blanche Murphy, 1871). "One of the real classics within the adventure genre. The book is a time witness from the decades when the alps were still unexplored, when pedestrianism were a sport and when six bottle of wines, one bottle of whiskey and two cigars was adequate packing for the conquering of a four thousand meter high peak. The conquest of Matterhorn is of course the highlight and a must read for anyone going to climb in the alps." (review by Goodreads user Matias - thanks!). I picked this one up at an antiquarian book fair because it looked just far too great to turn down. My only reluctance with this one is that I'd prefer to be reading it while traveling the Alps myself.

10. Ralph Raymond's Heir; or The Merchant's Crime (Horatio Alger Jr., 1869). "Young Robert is heir to his late father's fortune but is unaware that his guardian poisoned Robert's father and is planning a similar fate for Robert." (from thriftbooks.com). One of many Alger titles on the shelf, this one was written the year after Ragged Dick during one of the more prolific periods of his career.
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#422

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I've finished Singing Tales of Africa and Tales of Mogho: African Stories from Upper Volta, both of them slender volumes (80 and 113 pages, respectively). Both are aimed at children, judging from the playful drawings and simple language, although they also serve as a record of local myths and legends, the former Yoruban (so primarily Nigerian) and the latter Mossi (from Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso). The Mossi, it is stressed, do not have a written language and so this book represents the first time these stories have been committed to the page in any language.

So how are the stories? Quite entertaining, actually! None of them is particularly long, most are a dozen pages or less (with illustrations), very breezy and they draw you in effortlessly. Many are centered on explaining natural phenomena, e.g. why people die or where thunder comes from, while others teach lessons, e.g. when one person in a community is affected, the whole community is affected. Magic has a heavy presence here and there are evil spirits and the occasional monster here as well, just as there were with The Palm-Wine Drinkard. I loved the creativity and would love to get my hands on more of these tales, very entertaining indeed.

It's summer, when I tend to pick off books of philosophy, essays, histories, etc., so I'll pick The Nature of the Gods by Cicero next. Here's my list:
Spoiler
1. Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns) In 1903 there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire nation and most people had never seen a “horseless buggy”—but that did not stop Horatio Nelson Jackson, a thirty-one-year-old Vermont doctor, who impulsively bet fifty dollars that he could drive his 20-horsepower automobile from San Francisco to New York City. Here—in Jackson’s own words and photographs—is a glorious account of that months-long, problem-beset, thrilling-to-the-rattled-bones trip with his mechanic, Sewall Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud. (from book jacket). I loved the documentary and this has been sitting on my shelf for almost 15 years, I bet, so it's due to be read.

2. The Printer's Devil (Bill Fairbairn) "Bill Fairbairn started as a printer's devil in Scotland setting up newspaper headlines by hand 60 years ago. His vagabond reporter years in three continents followed in quick pursuit. This tale outlines some of the people and events he encountered in Canada working for newspapers, radio and magazine." I met this fellow at a book fair a few years ago and picked up his book since he (and it) sounded interesting. Time to give it a try!

3. Nonlinear Fiber Optics (Govind P. Agrawal) This title belongs on the list perhaps more than any other. It's considered the Bible of modern fiber optics (one of them, anyway), which is the field in which I work, so I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read it yet, even though it's been sitting on my shelf for years now.

4. Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (Norman Davies) "Europe's history is littered with kingdoms, duchies, empires and republics which have now disappeared but which were once fixtures on the map of their age. What happened to the once-great Mediterranean 'Empire of Aragon'? Where did the half-forgotten kingdoms of Burgundy go?...This original and enthralling book peers through the cracks of history to discover the stories of lost realms across the centuries." (from the back of the Penguin edition)

5. Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s (Liza Picard) "Making use of every possible contemporary source diaries, memoirs, advice books, government papers, almanacs, even the Register of Patents Liza Picard presents a picture of how life in London was really lived in the 1600s: the houses and streets, gardens and parks, cooking, clothes and jewellery, cosmetics, hairdressing, housework, laundry and shopping, medicine and dentistry, sex, education, hobbies, etiquette, law and crime, religion and popular beliefs." (from Goodreads)

6. Dr. Johnson's Lichfield (Mary Alden Hopkins) "A portrait of Dr. Samuel Johnson, focusing on his life before the publication of Boswell's Life of Johnson, in his home town of Lichfield. Several historic figures, including James Watt, Erasmus Darwin, as well as Richard and his daughter Maria Edgeworth, are also featured." (from Goodreads)

7. Vera Vorontzoff (Sofia Kovalevskaya) "A young Russian noblewoman wishes to dedicate herself to a cause but finds herself descending into nihilism." (from Goodreads) A semi-autobiographical novel by the extraordinary mathematician and feminist Sofia Kovalevskaya.

8. Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age (Annalee Newitz) "Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today." (from the dust jacket) I just picked this one up a week or two ago since it sounded interesting.

9. Henry James: The Untried Years 1843-1870 (Leon Edel) The first of five volumes by eminent Jamesian biographer Leon Edel. While this collection notoriously falls short on the topic of James' sexuality, it has nevertheless been highly praise, with The Washington Post calling it "The greatest single work of biography produced in our century." Let's see if it lives up to the hype.

10. One Man, One Matchet (T. M. Aluko). "This is a novel about Yorubaland - the Western Region of Nigeria, where cocoa trees and cocoa beans spell wealth. When a young Agricultural Officer, newly arrived from England, advises that every diseased tree in the District be cut down before the whole crop is infected, every farmer's reaction is to defend his trees, by force if necessary." (From the back of the book). Book #11 in Heinemann's wonderful African Writers Series, and a great replacement for Singing Tales of Africa.
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