18 Books Ernest Hemingway Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time

hemingway list free

 

I would rather read again for the first time Anna KareninaFar Away and Long AgoBuddenbrooksWuthering HeightsMadame BovaryWar and PeaceA Sportsman’s SketchesThe Brothers KaramazovHail and FarewellHuckleberry FinnWinesburg, OhioLa Reine MargotLa Maison TellierLe Rouge et le NoireLa Chartreuse de ParmeDubliners, Yeat’s Autobiographies and a few others than have an assured income of a million dollars a year.

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (eBookAudio Book)
  2. Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson (eBookAudio Book)
  3. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (eBook)
  4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (eBookAudio Book)
  5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (eBookAudio Book)
  6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (eBookAudio Book)
  7. A Sportsman’s Sketches by Ivan Turgenev (eBook)
  8. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (eBookAudio Book)
  9. Hail and Farewell by George Moore (eBook)
  10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (eBookAudio Book)
  11. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (eBookAudio)
  12. Queen Margot by Alexandre Dumas (eBook)
  13. La Maison Tellier by Guy de Maupassant (eBook)
  14. The Red and the Black by Stendhal (eBookAudio Book)
  15. La Chartreuse de Parme by Stendhal (eBook)
  16. Dubliners by James Joyce (eBookAudio Book)
  17. Reveries over Childhood and Youth by William Butler Yeats (eBook)
  18. The Trembling of the Veil by William Butler Yeats (eBook)

http://www.openculture.com/2013/09/18-books-ernest-hemingway-wished-he-could-read-again-for-the-first-time.html

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Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley

Ape and Essence by Aldous HuxleyAfter Huxley’s beautifully crafted novels of social satire from the 1920s things took a decidedly weird turn. And weird is good. It brought us Brave New World in 1932. Though I’m not sure about 1936s Eyeless in Gaza. Huxley’s novels becoming more and more novels of ideas. And these ideas are handled quite heavily and undermine the integrity of the novel itself – its workings, characters, story, structure. But then Brave New World has the same heavy touch – yet it works. Weird subsequently brought Huxley into psychedelic drugs and Eastern mysticism – which dominated his later work.

A good account of this novel is here:

https://simonsbookblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/aldous-huxley-ape-and-essence-1948.html

Overall an odd work and not always in a good way. I’m not sure it has much to say to today’s reader. But an interesting insight into where Huxley’s thinking led him post Brave New World.

Mr A

Austen Criticism

Jane-AustenMazzeno (2011)

 “Critiques [in the 1990s] that faulted her for a tendency to succumb to the norms of the patriarchal society in which she lived were routinely balanced by those that found a strong revolutionary strain in her work.”

“…a more balanced view would be articulated by many of the feminists who published work on Austen [since 1991] …although several would continue to claim her as a revolutionary or dismiss her as a conservative.”

“Austen learned to make accommodations in her style to disguise her efforts to express resistance to the dominant patriarchal ideology.”

Mukherjee (1991)

“a recurrent theme [of Austen’s novels is] the heroine’s resistance to the efforts of the patriarchal community to force her into a social role at the cost of her own identity.”

“[Austen] was not a consistent critic of [the] close-knit society with its chain of obligations, duties and shared values.”

“Even while mocking some aspects of the dominant ideology of her time… [Austen] did seem to subscribe to others.”

Ross (1991)

Austen is particularly noteworthy because she manages to describe women’s daily struggle “in plentiful believable detail” giving her works a cast of hard realism while still “enveloping women’s lives in romantic comedy.”

Austen was important in the history of the form because she was successful in “moving the novel beyond narrow conduct-book didacticism” – a role assigned to it by men like Samuel Johnson – toward “a more subtle and searching, and thus more deeply moral, criticism of life.”

Laurence (1991)

Austen… values “the inner life”, a condition originally prompted by their position in a patriarchal society but “transformed through the living of their lives” into a quality that gives them authority as moral figures.

Todd (1991)

Too many feminist readings are “largely ahistorical and ungeneric” often “removing Austen from her contemporary context and from other women writers who receded and surrounded her”.

These ahistorical interpretations “made her sisterhood across time but not within it.”

Arguing for a middle way in feminist studies of Austen, rejecting both the “cult of sentimentality that characterizes conservative, patriarchal readings”, and those that are overly sceptical of the “pities of home and hearth”.

Kaplan (1992)

“Austen’s six novels express and obscure aspects of the women’s culture, [but at the same time] they unequivocally endorse patriarchal ideology. [The novels are filled with] inconsistencies of perspective [and feminists] need to acknowledge these inconsistencies …relinquish some of your intimacy with her work.”

Hudson (1992)

Austen “employs sibling relationships to negotiate within and to critique the complex ideology presented in her fiction… A “herald of Victorian values” in her portrait of the family circle “as an innovative social and moral power-base”.

Perkins (1998)

In Sense & Sensibility Austen “most aggressively undertakes to reconstruct dominant concepts of gender.”

Castellanos (1994)

Austen was primarily an ironist and her “ironic laughter is animated by a peculiar type of opposition to traditional views of women’s situation and abilities.”

Tauchert (2005) – escapist fantasies”

…that Austen adopts the fromof romance, a genre that “structures femininity in a way that demands attention”, but centres on “the basest of feminist fantasies” – the rescue fantasy, in which the heroine, saved by a worthy hero, lives happily ever after. As Tauchert’s close reading of Austen’s novels demonstrate, however, the heroine does much to civilize her saviour; these are real love stories, not simply escapist fantasies.

Fergus (1991)

Austen adopted many of the conventions of novel-writing as it was being practiced in her day to assure herself an audience for her novels. Her “political sympathies may be fundamentally conservative, but her mind is critical and her vision ironic”. Throughout her career, Austen offered in her fiction a “critique of conventional notions of women” and society’s expectations of them.

…finds in Austen’s social comedies a strong critique of “the complex power relationships between women and a social world that reduces their options and makes them marginal.”

While Austen often entertains her readers with “the highly comic mixture of sexual and economic motives that prompt courtship and marriage” she is equally concerned with “the much less comic operations of power – of dominance and submission – that occur within and around both institutions”.

Lanser (1992)

Austen’s novels as “texts that engage questions of authority specifically though their production of narrative voice”… concentrating on conflicts that arise when women presume to speak with authority.

Mellor (1993)

“Austen wants us to see the myriad ways in which patriarchal power – especially the possession of money – can corrupt both men and women.”

Barreca (1994)

In comedies written by women – including Austen – “the straightjacket of conventional femininity is challenged, confronted, and, finally, thrown off.”

Bilger (1998)

“A significant aspect” of Austen’s humour derives from her belief in “an equality between men and women based on rationality and a perception of the incongruity of women’s lot.

…launches “her own subtle humourous assaults upon the patriarchal construction of nineteenth-century femininity.”

Greenfield (2002)

…the success Austen enjoys in “concealing socioeconomic and political problems behind the illusion of ‘private’ experience.”

Of Emma… “the first English novel in which the existence of the unconscious seems indubitable – the first  in which the heroine’s misunderstanding of her own mind is the subject of the story.”

Jane-Austen2Copeland (1997)

“Money… is the love tipped arrow aimed at the hearts of Austen’s heroines”

– both the author and characters are only interested in income for marriage

– love is the result of money and happiness the result of fortune

 “The heartbeat of romance lies in a good income”

– women based a man’s suitability on his income

– Austen is using money to demonstrate love

 “decisions of domestic economy define the heroine”

– the theory and practice of household management

– only purpose is to worry about household affairs

 “complex relationships between income and romance held in centre focus”

– Austen is only concerned with income in her novels

– romance between characters is clouded by money

 “the usual cast of economic scavengers”

the most significant problem is their lack of fortune

shallow/ self-indulging female characters

 “Austen is a shrewd observer of the economic terrain of her class”

“economic ideology” is expressed in Austen’s work – a perspective on the way an economy should run and to what end

writes from “pseudo-gentry” class – approaching the subject of money from different perspectives

 

Clery (1997)

“Marianne Dashwood’s ‘masturbatory’ absorption in her own pleasures”

  • Self-indulgence is usually seen as a female thing, but this seems to suggest that it is male
  • Is selfishness a male thing?
  • Either way, Marianne is going against society’s expectations by doing what she wants to do

“Austen’s distaste for a still-current idea of female identity is apparent”

  • Context – what the role of women was at the time
  • It is questionable how much Austen actually challenges this expectation
  • Does Woolf question this idea of female identity?

“Austen’s microscopic interest in the performative nature of social roles”

  • Austen raises questions about the falseness of people within the society – even the characters we like are seen to play up to society’s expectations
  • Links to Woolf’s celebration of the individual and the freedom they have only when they are alone

“Homosocial intimacy was arguably more important than heterosexual romance in Austen’s life and art”

  • Austen seems to advocate being a decent human, rather than arbitrary distinctions of class or gender
  • She also doesn’t place all the emphasis on romantic love, similarly to Woolf who prioritises the individual

“The militantly anti-romantic deliverance of Marianne to Colonel Brandon”

  • Idea that the patriarchy has reductive ‘solutions’ which don’t actually take into account the feelings of those involved

“The hero’s motives and feelings are opaque for the heroine, and yet her fate depends on the resolution of the hero’s plot”

  • We never get the male perspective in Austen, unlike Woolf’s use of free indirect discourse
  • This separates male and female, suggesting that they can’t understand one another effectively

 

 Jane-Austen3GRUNDY (1997)

‘Austen inherited no obvious, no precisely defined tradition’, ‘she is chary of influence’

  • Like Woolf/modernism which made a deliberate break from inherited convention

 

‘a novelist of ideas’, ‘take her seriously as a thinker’

‘the most thorough knowledge of human nature’ (what novels show according to Austen’s defence of them in Northanger Abbey)

  • Austen was concerned with tackling the real issues of her time
  • Women’s novels are valuable not frivolous

 

‘she allows Marianne, or Willoughby, to be demeaned … through their eagerness to exact conformity of taste’

  • What is Austen’s attitude to conformity more generally, and exacting of it?

 

‘Elinor’s Johnsonian attempts to combat grief and depression through mental activity, and Marianne’s Cowperesque savouring of melancholy’

‘she avoids … models of unmixed virtue … and heavy-handed poetic justice’

  • Neither Elinor nor Marianne is wholly perfect
  • Austen rejects conventions which give unrealistic pictures of women

 

‘Elinor’s pity for Lucy Steele’s lack of education … is genuinely felt’

  • Does Elinor really pity Lucy Steele? Does Austen?
  • Does Elinor’s pity have a hint of smug superiority?

 

‘meditation and self-examining, are to play some part in [Marianne’s] redemption’

  • Is Marianne ‘saved’ by herself, or by Brandon?
  • Is internal reflection more important than external circumstance for Austen?

 

Selwyn (1997)

“The way in which wealthy men manage their property is designed to reveal aspects of their characters.”

  • John Middleton – He is very caring and loves company, almost to the point of being intrusive; he looks after them and makes sure that they are comfortable at Barton.
  • Fanny Dashwood/John Dashwood – Have very little regard for the Dashwood women. Force them off their estate almost immediately etc.

“Jane Austen sometimes makes use of a servant to bring out the essential meanness of spirit in one of her characters.”

  • Fanny Dashwood – discussion of annuities to servants
    • “My mother was clogged with the payment to three old superannuated servants… it’s amazing how disagreeable she found it.

“Good people valued their servants.”

  • Mrs Jennings – Looks out for her servants. “She is excellent housemaid, and works very well with a needle.”

 

“Jane Austen clearly decided on giving a motive for wishing to marry a woman with money.”

  • Willoughby’s marriage to Miss Grey purely for money and to get him out of a bad situation.
  • Mrs Farrars looks down upon Lucy Steel because she has little in the way of a dowry and cannot further her son’s social and economic status

 

“Her father was a clergyman; there clergymen in each of her books, and three of them marry the heroine.”

  • “All his [Edward] wishes centred in domestic comfort and the quiet of private life.”
  • Colonel Brandon offers Edward a control of rectory. “Simple” life yet respectable to many not including Mrs Ferrars and Fanny!

 

“A woman who tries to make her own way in the world would find it… very hard.”

  • Eliza – She was seduced by a series of men, and fallen into a disreputable life. Eliza didn’t have enough money left to keep her in good health.
  • Eliza junior – Eliza’s disappearance was Willoughby’s fault – he’d seduced her, left her, promised to return, then never did. He got her pregnant and fled the scene.

“Jane Austen exposes an unmistakeable social unease.”

  • All the single women strive to get married and most want to ‘better’ their social status for security.
  • Edward would have been in trouble when he was disinherited if it wasn’t for Brandon

 Jane-Austen4

McMaster (1997)

  • ‘Class difference was of course a fact of life for Austen’
  • Class difference was part of life in 19th century England – everything was constrained by it
  • The way Austen wrote about class was influenced by her experience – she was also well placed to make judgements as an unmarried woman, as she fell outside of class boundaries

 

  • ‘Austen insists that with privileges go extensive responsibilities’
  • In the novel, this manifests in John Dashwood’s responsibility for the Dashwood sisters’ financial security, because of the principle of primogeniture
  • Link to Mrs Dalloway – this responsibility comes with the employment of Doris Kilman as Elizabeth’s tutor, which is shown to be a charitable act

 

  • ‘The novel’s heroine makes prompt though often inaccurate judgements about the social station of people around her’
  • In the novel, the best example of these inaccurate judgements is Elinor Dashwood, who is quick to condemn Lucy Steele as ‘illiterate, artful, and selfish’
  • We trust the omniscient 3rd person narrator more in their judgement, which is often satirical of the social situation/class system of the time

 

  • ‘Austen highlights the injustices of this system of inheritance’ (primogeniture)
  • Primogeniture – the system by which property is accumulated in the hands of one (male) family member, so as to preserve the family name and estate
  • Mr Dashwood – deprives his wife and daughters of an inheritance, and bestows it upon his son instead, which is inherently unjust

 

  • [Austen] ‘writes no explicit analysis, but […] fills in the large social picture and provides indirect commentary’
  • One of the main criticisms of Austen is that she fails to tackle the problems of the domestic and foreign scene at the time, eg. poverty, the slave trade, and the Napoleonic wars
  • The omniscient narrator – condemns the class system with subtlety and satire

 

  • ‘Many of Austen’s most contemptible characters are those who place undue emphasis on social station’
  • This is true regardless of whether they are upper class or lower class, for example both Lucy Steele and Mr and Mrs John Dashwood are presented in a negative light

 

Russel (1997)

  • “Eighteenth-century sociability was fundamentally a product of the provincial town.”
  • “The Dashwood girls endure as defeated victims of the imperious code of politeness.”
  • “The adventure of eighteenth-century sociability- … the prospect of losing or finding oneself in the company of others- is here rendered as a hollow ritual.”
  • “men and women can saunter together in blissful ignorance of each other’s demands, needs or precedence.”
  • “such sociability involved people outside the immediate family circle… to sustain and advance its ‘place’ in wider society.”
  • “Her fiction is enduring testimony to our own investments in the companionability of culture.”

 

Petersburg by Andrei Bely

Petersburg by Andrei BelyI read this purely on the strength of Nabokov’s hyperbolic praise, never having heard of Bely or of the novel before. Nabokov says: “I’ve been perplexed and amused by fabricated notions about so-called “great books.” That, for instance, Mann’s asinine Death in Venice, or Pasternak’s melodramatic, vilely written Doctor Zhivago, or Faulkner’s corncobby chronicles can be considered masterpieces, or at least what journalists term ‘great books’ is to me the same sort of absurd delusion as when a hypnotized person makes love to a chair.” Now, I can agree with Nabokov on Pasternak’s novel – one of the few novels for which the film version is far superior – but then I am quite impressed by the achievement of Faulkner and I love Mann’s Death in Venice – though “The Magic Mountain” would have a more plausible claim to being a “great book”. But for Nabokov to go on to say that there are only four ‘great books’ (in order of personal preference):

1) James Joyce’s Ulysses

2) Kafka’s The Metamorphosis

3) Andrei Bely’s St. Petersburg

4) The first half of Proust’s fairy tale, In Search of Lost Time

…well, one has to read the only one left to read. So I set out to find a copy of Bely’s masterpiece and read it.

Hmmm. Once you get past the absurd introduction by Adam Thirwell, who seems to be writing for no purpose whatsoever, even that of idle self-amusement, the novel itself strikes one as more than a little unbalanced and loose: what’s going on? It isn’t at all clear that the characters have a sense of psychological unity, that events lead to others in the kinds of cause and effect sequence we’ve been trained to expect of reality and prose fiction, so one’s left wondering if there’s something afoot at all. Then the characters, or quasi-characters, who do suffer consequences of real seeming events, never seem to set a ball rolling of their own accord. Volition, for what it’s worth in this fictional world, is full of holes, as are the notions of rationale and motivation for individual actions: what does X want? Why does X do Y? Such fundamental questions really shouldn’t bother the reader to the point of utter bafflement. Should they?

But then, for all that, this novel does feel, for some reason, like a monument to something. But what I can’t imagine. Whatever it is, or isn’t, it is full to bursting of something: of strange and beautiful prose that drags the reader all over the place. You do find yourself caught up by a riff every couple of pages that’s completely fascinating. Flows of thought can be magical. And the writing is wonderful in places. So clever and evocative, delicately involved and suddenly surprising. But it’s all swimming in such a churning sea of wtf, that it’s hard to grasp just what’s going on, how you’re feeling, what to expect, what to be surprised at, and what to wonder at.

Mr A

Outsiders by Lyndall Gordon review – five women writers who changed the world

The exceptional subjects of this study, all ‘outsiders’, could never fit comfortably inside the frame of what was acceptably female
Role models … from left: George Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Mary Shelley. Photograph: Getty Images, Alamy
 Role models … from left: George Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Mary Shelley.

Lyndall Gordon writes with passionate intelligence about the literature she loves. Since she first published her book on TS Eliot in 1977, she has developed her distinctive way of weaving together the writer’s life and writing, in studies of Virginia WoolfHenry JamesMary WollstonecraftEmily Dickinson and others. Her books are speculative literary biographies; she is fascinated by the otherness and particularity of each of her subjects, but she’s always also pressing on their lives and their works to answer urgent questions of her own, reading their thought as urgently contemporary. Her Divided Lives, a moving memoir of her own childhood in South Africa and relationship with her beloved mother – who was intelligent and spiritual, struggling all her life with illness – feels like a source book for the preoccupations underpinning Gordon’s writing on literature. When her mother called her Lyndall, after the doubting, questing, imaginative heroine of Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm, she endowed her with more than just a pretty name.

Gordon’s new book opens with Mary Shelley, takes in Emily BrontëGeorge Eliotand Schreiner, and ends with Virginia Woolf. There are separate sections on each writer, condensed biographical and critical sketches. The five are also linked explicitly through Gordon’s theme: they are all “outsiders” (it’s Woolf’s word from Three Guineas), or “outsider insurgents”, unconstrained by convention, writing against the grain of their time, prophetically imagining a different future, exploring “oddity in ways that speak to us about our unseen selves”. Gordon is a natural storyteller, and the lives stir us and fascinate us no matter how well we already know them. Some of them – Brontë’s and Woolf’s, certainly – have become foundation myths in our literary culture. Gordon has the storyteller’s feel for the details that make each episode vivid: Brontë sitting at lunch with the British chaplain in Brussels and not saying a word; Schreiner writing to her sister about her stillborn baby, “that beautiful, holy little life of mine”; Woolf putting on her mother’s taffeta dress to be photographed for Vogue. Gordon’s sympathetic imagination works so strongly that she almost slips inside the language of the writer and her era, ventriloquising it: Shelley’s “fine, gauzy hair, loose on her shoulders, spun as she moved her head”; Charlotte Brontë inscribes “a hidden nature graven in secret script”.

Helena Bonham Carter in the 1994 film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock
 Helena Bonham Carter in the 1994 film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Her judgments are full of novelistic insight, pushing into the biographical material to substantiate her hunches, tracing patterns and repetitions in these writers’ emotional lives and in their work. Eliot and Schreiner both fell for coldly intellectual men who didn’t find them physically attractive; seeking the approval of a stern master figure, they were eager to condemn the “silliness” of the ordinary women who were taken up with domesticity, with reading and writing frivolous novels. When the outsiders did find happiness with men (Percy Shelley, George Lewes, Leonard Woolf), it was with the ones who took them seriously as intellectuals and supported their writing. Speculations about their sex lives – the Shelleys’ love-making after the death of little “Willmouse” (their second child, William), Eliot’s disastrous honeymoon with John Cross, Woolf’s so-called “frigidity” – are risky, but read as imaginative and plausible. Eliot and presumably Woolf used birth control. Shelley was the only one among the five with living children. She tried to cope with the calamities of motherhood – not only repeated pregnancies and childbirth and childcare, but also the sickness and death of her offspring – while she followed her husband around Italy in pursuit of an ideal freedom. Gordon gives Percy Shelley a surprisingly easy time, on the grounds of his “assent” to Mary’s “distinction”: he seemed to extend his assent to a number of fervidly imaginative girls, and not always to care what became of his discards.

The five writers are woven together in a narration across time, through their reading and sometimes as role models for one another. When Mary Shelleyeloped with the poet they read aloud together from her mother Mary Wollstonecraft’s book Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Eliot read and approved of The Rights too, in her 30s (although copies were scarce in Victorian England). Schreiner in 1886 was asked to contribute an introduction to it. Woolf in 1929 wrote a biographical essay on Wollstonecraft. Eliot marvelled at Brontë’s “power, splendour and wildness”, and Woolf thought Brontë was an English Electra. Woolf was much more unkind on the subject of Eliot’s earnestness, however, than gets mentioned here; and while she admired The Story of an African Farm, she didn’t think anything else Schreiner wrote was much good, and wished she hadn’t been obsessed with “sex questions”. Schreiner visited Shelley’s memorial to her husband, but it was his poems she loved, not Shelley’s novel. There is no sign of the later writers taking any interest in Frankenstein.

Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1914.
 Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1914.

Gordon in her eager, hurrying inclusiveness wants to make each of her writers a way-station in a progressive evolution; “here and there, in unlooked for places, the new breed sprouts”. This is partly a 19th-century habit, a forward-looking hopefulness and hailing of new dawns; she catches it from her subjects. It is at the core of the Romantic tradition to which they all belong, apart from Woolf; Romanticism also celebrates the “natural” outsider, opposed to the “artificiality” of culture. Would we want to construct an equivalent consecutive history out of the lives of five male writers, even if some were also outsiders in a sense (Charles Dickens, Thomas HardyDH Lawrence)? We might want to link them in terms of influence in their work, but probably not through their private lives. And in emphasising the female writers’ role as precursors or visionaries, we risk underplaying how distinctively each one is of her own age, participating in its idiom and its worldview as well as helping to form these. It’s interesting that Jane Austen can’t be fitted into this outsider-precursor sequence. She is surely just as radical in her own way, insisting that her women’s ordinary lives – their provincial gossip and dressmaking and flirtations – are worthy material for innovative fiction, refusing the master-narratives of high-minded Romanticism, making fun of them.

And yet Schreiner is magnificent and tragic, addressing herself to later generations: “It was in the thought of your larger realisation and fuller life that we found consolation for the futilities of our own.” All five of the brilliant, exceptional women in this book really were thwarted. They suffered just as Gordon shows us: in their work because they struggled to participate fully in the institutions of intellectual life of their time, and in their personal lives because they couldn’t fit comfortably inside the frame of what was acceptably female. We don’t want to condescend to the complexity of the past, and progress may always be equivocal, provisional and fraught with unintended consequences. But sometimes nonetheless it’s plain to see. In our time in the west, women have won equal access to education and equal rights in law. Along with technological advances delivering easy contraception and safer childbirth and washing machines, these have effected fundamental shifts in our politics and perceptions of gender. Gordon’s five writers all had crucial roles to play in writing women’s voices into our history in the English-speaking world and beyond, making it impossible for power and reason to ignore them.

 Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed The World by Lyndall Gordon (Virago, £20). To order a copy for £17, go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/oct/25/outsiders-by-lyndall-gordon-review-five-women-writers-who-changed-the-world?CMP=twt_books_b-gdnbooks

The Philosophy of Rick and Morty: What Everyone’s New Favorite Cartoon Has in Common with Albert Camus

“Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die.” So, in one episode of Rick and Morty, says the fourteen-year-old Morty Smith, one of the show’s titular co-protagonists. With the other, a mad scientist by the name of Rick Sanchez, who also happens to be Morty’s grandfather, he constitutes the animated team that has entertained thousands and thousands of viewers — and made insatiable fans of seemingly all of them — over the past four years. To those few who haven’t yet seen the show, it may just look like a silly cartoon, but the true fans understand that underneath all of the memorable gags and quotable lines lies an unusual philosophical depth.

“The human desire to fulfill some special existential purpose has existed throughout history,” says video essayist Will Schoder in his analysis of the philosophy of Rick and Morty. But the titular duo’s adventures through all possible realities of the “multiverse” ensure that they experience firsthand the utter meaninglessness of each individual reality.

When Morty breaks that bleak-sounding news to his sister Summer with the now oft-quoted line above, he actually delivers a “comforting message”: once you confront the randomness of the universe, as Rick and Morty constantly do, “the only option is to find importance in the stuff right in front of you,” and their adventures show that “friends, family, and doing what we enjoy are far more important than any unsolvable questions about existence.”

Schoder, also the author of a video essay on Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon’s mythological storytelling technique as well as one we’ve previously featured about David Foster Wallace’s critique of postmodernism, makes the clear philosophical connection to Albert Camus. The philosopher and author of The Stranger wrote and thought a great deal about the “contradiction between humans’ desire to find meaning in life and the meaninglessness of the universe,” and the absurdity that results, a notion the cartoon has dramatized over and over again, with an ever-heightening absurdity. We must, like Sisyphus eternally pushing his rock uphill, recognize the true nature of our situation yet defiantly continue “to explore and search for meaning.” Morty, as any fan well knows, offers Summer another solution to her despair: “Come watch TV.”

http://www.openculture.com/2017/11/the-philosophy-of-rick-and-morty.html

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton“Ethan Frome works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious, and hypochondriac wife, Zeena. But when Zeena’s vivacious cousin enters their household as a “hired girl”, Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent.

“In one of American fiction’s finest and most intense narratives, Edith Wharton moves this ill-starred trio toward their tragic destinies. Different in both tone and theme from Wharton’s other works, Ethan Frome has become perhaps her most enduring and most widely read novel.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5246.Ethan_Frome

 A lovely little novel. The first I’ve read by Wharton. The story is expertly crafted. And the pace and twists and whatnot are very well judged. However, it’s a little strange in its representation of women. The choice of a male narrator I thought odd – a narrator not integral to the story. What adopt a male perspective? Was the perspective itself being explored? Critiqued? Because it is a little problematic: the voice’s representation of women growing “queer” when they get old and generally of women being fragile emotionally and very likely to ruin a man’s existence with their pettiness and small-mindedness. But this not too insignificant quirk aside, a great novel: it really does pack quite an emotional punch.

Mr A