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View Diary: Books Go Boom!   100 Greatest Novels Lists (& the 5th best Russian Novel) (153 comments)

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  •  Have you read any of the novels of Victor Serge? (10+ / 0-)

    I highly recommend them, in particular The Case of Comrade Tulayev. It's available online.

    Dostoevsky is someone to whom I compare all other novelists.

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 08:32:11 PM PDT

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    •  I've never read any Victor Serge. I will certainly (12+ / 0-)

      check out The Case of Comrade Tulayev online, to see what I make of it.

      Dostoevsky charts the heights and deeps of heart and soul, he travels to the extremities of human nature and finds a thousand particular truths there. But he can be a lot to try and digest. So here, for simplicity, is the four-minute Dostoevsky:

      Song From Under the Floorboards

      I am angry I am ill and I'm as ugly as sin
      my irritability keeps me alive and kicking
      I know the meaning of life, it doesn't help me a bit
      I know beauty and I know a good thing when I see it

      This is a song from under the floorboards
      this is a song from where the wall is cracked
      my force of habit, I am an insect
      I have to confess I'm proud as hell of that fact

      I know the highest and the best
      I accord them all due respect
      but the brightest jewel inside of me
      glows with pleasure at my own stupidity

      This is a song ....

      I used to make phantoms I could later chase
      images of all that could be desired
      then I got tired of counting all of these blessings
      and then I just got tired

      This is a Song From Under the Floorboards ....

                                                              by Magazine

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 09:45:32 PM PDT

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      •  очень хороший (6+ / 0-)

        which is Russian for "very good" (one of the few phrases I remember from three years at university).

        •  Definitely horoshii or horosho! (6+ / 0-)

          but what a stranni chelovek!

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 10:00:28 PM PDT

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          •  Strange Man, I think? (6+ / 0-)

            Most of the people leading post-punk bands (Joy Division, Public Image, Talking Heads, Gang of Four, Simple Minds, the Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees) were interesting weirdos. Punk turned them on, and then these singers were the ones who grew bored of three-chord orthodoxy, and moved on to more jagged and intricate experiments.

            Howard Devoto is a very strange man, who poured the best of his strangeness into his art - just like Dostoevsky.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 11:34:43 PM PDT

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            •  Strange person actually (6+ / 0-)

              Very strong lyrics, as if verbatim from the underground man.

              Never got into Joy Division but liked all the others listed. Even got to see Gang of Four and The Talking Heads up close and personal when they played at local venues. Also Black Flag and Ultravox. The latter did some impressive work when John Foxx was fronting for them.

              Most artists that I like would qualify as strange persons. In fact, I think most artists would qualify as strange, since a single minded focus on personal creativity is hardly the norm.  

               

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 12:05:31 AM PDT

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              •  Art is a place to release and also develop (4+ / 0-)

                the strangest parts of ourselves. It allows us to express our quirkiest aspects (which society often frowns at, and stifles), - creativity can keep us from exploding through self-repression.

                But art can even lead to a larger, more individual, more lasting and stable kind of sanity. Art offers a place to stretch out those parts of ourselves, which we have crumpled and hidden, often even from our own consciousness. If you can put your whole self into works of art, you may find a way to integrate the several branches of your individuality into a larger, healthier tree.

                Those bands I mentioned are among my favorites. I was a teenager in England when New Wave was happening, and the enormous diversity of music that came after punk swept away my ears and heart.

                Talking Heads are an unlikely marriage of great art band with groove band, both sides developing as they went. Remain in Light is my favorite, but they scattered excellence through all their work.

                Ultravox! is another particular favorite of mine, as is John Foxx solo (do you know The Garden?). Ultravox! (1st LP) is a bold post-punk exploration (Eno produced), and Systems of Romance a perfect realization of those early visions. Have you ever noticed that they wrote Enola Gay before OMD did, in Hiroshima Mon Amour?

                Another brilliant post-punk band too few people know of is Japan.

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 10:20:37 AM PDT

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        •  I had less than a year of Russian (6+ / 0-)

          but the class still made it through A Hero of Our Time. There were a lot of footnotes and, for some reason, Lermontov kept to a rather basic vocabulary.

          Six years of French and Latin. But I've forgotten most of it. I try not to let my English get too rusty.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 11:10:59 PM PDT

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          •  Ah, you've done better than I (4+ / 0-)

            I learned my smidgeon of Rus on my own as preparation for a visit to St. Petersburg. Seemed wise to know at least enough of the local lingo to stay out of trouble, not to mention increasing one's appreciation for its beauty and power.

            "In a sensational haze
             The Slavic tongue murmured in my ear
             A river sound rising from the back of the throat
             To wash against the teeth.
             -Had it only been hours ago
             We parted in St. Petersburg?-"

            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 10:12:04 AM PDT

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          •  Heh, did you use the Easy Russian Reader? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brecht, RiveroftheWest

            It was a very popular first-year Russian text, and the first thing you read is the "Taman'" chapter from Hero of Our Time.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 05:50:33 PM PDT

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            •  Too long ago to remember. I was sixteen. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, pico

              I'm pretty sure we read the whole novel - but our teacher may have gotten the idea from that chapter in the Reader. But you can read anything, with a dictionary and enough footnotes.

              No doubt, when I get around to rereading A Hero of Our Time, I'll find a lot more there. I've got The Red and the Black on my TBR shelf for the same reason.

              "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

              by Brecht on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 06:14:18 PM PDT

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    •  I have read some of Serge's work, and most (4+ / 0-)

      recently read his memoirs. His memoirs represent some of the best reading that I have ever been through, although not fiction.  In fact, I am now ready to go back and read more of his fiction.  

      It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

      by ciganka on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 08:54:36 AM PDT

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