Saturday, February 25, 2012

Anna Karenina and Other Hairy Tales

Picture:Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions

Anna Karenina is a book best gobbled when one is bound by one’s pubertal angst. It is more painful to swallow once one has tasted real life in great quantity. Funny that a writer like Leo Tolstoy got it so right for both.

Of course, it’s not the only such novel: think of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (for youths it’s an adventure, for adults a metaphor for the British Empire), or almost any of the Jane Austen’s novels (for youths the life’s passion is in the initial burning kisses, adults know that the real life starts only after).

If you havn't read Anna Karenina yet, here is a chance to do it on line. And check, if the most famous clichéd quote from high literature really goes:
"All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way..."
Of course, the translators always insert their marks in the original text, after all translators are really interpretors on behalf of those who don't read in many tongues.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dreams and Angsts

Picture: Umberto Eco as seen by John Macdougall's camera in Chigaco Tribune on 14.11.2011
"Because now I am excruciatingly aware, each time I pick up a book, of all the books I am shunning in order to focus on the one in my hand."
The above quote is from an article, Umberto Eco and the guilty pleasure of re-reading, by a cultural critic Julia Keller in Chigaco Tribune on November 9, 2011.

The older one becomes the more angsty urgency there is to read those books that should have been read a long time ago but never were for reasons of laziness, inattention, carelessness, active avoidance and other human failings. We all have only this finite time. As always: When one turns to embrace somebody, one's back is turned to all others.

I may have mentioned this already, Dear Reader, but my dream has been for a long time to read Dostoyevsky in Russian. I’ve even started learning Russian, several times in fact, just that particular dream in mind. Variations of the dream include Pushkin, Turgenev or Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina but funnily enough not his War and Peace.

I mention this in passing here because an angsty urgency has hit again and out comes the Russian learning material. Ludmila, a second-hand book dealer in the Saturdays’ book market in Melbourne’s Ian Potter Museum of Art-building, one of the post-modern buildings in an important Melburnian landmark, the Federation Square complex, has already got a request to look for a new Russian text for a desperate beginner.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Days and days

Kuva Hanhensulka 2012, A sun sets in St. Kilda.

February 17 was like any other day, only different.

Obviously, Dear Reader, there are dates in ones life that are more important than some others. This one is used to mark the passing of one lifetime. One tries to ignore it as much as possible.

It was easy when there was a cushion of parents to rely on. Funny thing is that even at a mature age, as long as they are there, one is still a child, well, to a certain extent at least, feeling protected against one's fate.

Of course, the fate always wins at the end.

Fortunately for the individual, they will not know about it, since life is without a start or the end. For the person, there is no birth nor death, only the existence and its opposite, which we will never know, in person.