Nov 12, 2019 at 4:52 am #3618286
…or In the First Circle in some translations…
Has anyone read this?
Sometimes books pop up without warning; I like this. My mother stopped by with some old books from my father’s library and this was among them. I had another book lined up but started reading Solzhenitsyn out of curiosity…and about 1/8 into it, I’m very much enjoying it. I tend to get along with most of the Russians I’ve read so far…Nov 12, 2019 at 9:05 am #3618306Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I read it about 50 years ago and later read Gulag. He does capture the brutality of the Soviet system, but fails to recognize the real root cause, which is collectivism in general. He’s a good writer, but a poor philosopher. On that point you’ll have to form your own opinion, of course.
I tend to get along with most of the Russians I’ve read so far…
I’ll assume you don’t include Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum on your list :-)
I know what you mean by accidental finds. Years ago I found a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez, next to a trash can in a park. I had never heard of Márquez before that and I enjoyed the book .
This is probably of interest to you. Lately, I’ve taken a deep dive into the Italian Renaissance and along with the literature and history have been exploring the painters and sculptors… looking at a lot of pictures on the Internet. I just bought a four volume set of Giorgio Vasari’s The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. I’ll probably start on it next week. And yes, I’m aware of some of the inaccuracies and legends he presents along with the extensive cataloging of works of art, but I’m looking forward to reading it.
I like this Vasari fresco painting (St Luke Painting the Virgin) and the story behind it, including St Luke being the patron saint of painters and Vasari’s self-portrait as St Luke. Below the fresco is his preparatory drawing.
Sorry to derail your thread, but Solzhenitsyn was “meh” for me.Nov 12, 2019 at 2:48 pm #3618316
Probably much to do with our very different opinions about collectivism.
When I have time later I’ll post an excerpt from a conversation on the nature happiness that I thought Solzhenitsyn handled in a brilliant way.
Regarding renaissance art, I’m glad you included the preparatory sketch…that’s usually what I’m more interested in than the finished works. If I had my pick, I’d actually collect the sketchbooks of the period before I’d go for a finished work; I like seeing the thought process…especially with da Vinci. And I think I like Michelangelo’s drawings better than his paintings.Nov 12, 2019 at 3:55 pm #3618321Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Like I said, he was a good writer, but IMO a flawed person. Sometimes we do need to separate the person from their work.
I thought you would focus on the sketch.
From what I have read about Vasari’s book, he captures conversations between Leonardo and Michelangelo. Apparently they were competitors, not friends. That’ll be interesting to read.Nov 12, 2019 at 4:45 pm #3618338Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I like Russian literature and music. It’s all rather morose or depressing. They have had bad experiences historically.
I have this image of Raskolnikov. Even though he got away with murder, it just ate at him until he exploded. Moral being, if you treat people bad it’ll just eat at you and make you unhappy.Nov 13, 2019 at 12:36 am #3618405
I thought this was beautifully handled:
“When I was free and used to read books in which wise men pondered the meaning of life or the nature of happiness, I understood very little of those passages. I gave them their due: wise men are supposed to think. It’s their profession. But the meaning of life? We live- that’s the meaning. Happiness? When things are going very well, that’s happiness, everyone knows that. Thank God for prison! It gave me the chance to think. In order to understand the nature of happiness we first have to analyze satiety. Remember the Lubyanka and counterintelligence? Remember that thin, watery barley or the oatmeal porridge without a single drop of fat? Can you say that you eat it? No. You commune with it, you take it like sacrament! Like the prana of the yogis. You eat it slowly; you eat it from the tip of the wooden spoon; you eat it absorbed entirely in the process of eating, in thinking about eating- and it spreads through your body like nectar. You tremble at the sweetness released from those overcooked little grains and the murky liquid they float in. And then- with hardly any nourishment- you go on living six months, twelve months. Can you really compare the crude devouring of a steak with this?”
…from The First Circle
It reminds me quite a bit of the scene in Tolstoy’s War and Peace in which Pierre is taught to slowly and lovingly eat the last potato with a pinch of salt…and then fast-forward to after the war, him sitting with a feast before him, and again, slowly, lovingly eating the potato while remembering…
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