There’s a moment in Sunset Boulevard where William Holden’s character Joe Gillis takes Norma Desmond’s (played by Gloria Swanson) script in his hand. That’s what I was reminded of reading these two novellas.
Balzac’s sits nearly at the end of main street, and when you sit inside of it, it’s easy to forget that you exist in the modern world. The tin ceiling design and the white marble of the counters as well as the café set up are a comforting beckon to the past and the distant, and it was sitting at one of those counters by the window that I thought about starting a book review blog in the first place. This is a review of Honoré de Balzac’s The Wild Ass’s Skin (La Peau de Chagrin).
I’ve been reading classic literature since I was very young, but the work of Austen was a blind spot for me. Mostly, that had to do with the way acquaintances pushed me to read them. Bright. Sparkly. Light. Romantic. Those are not the words that draw me to literature. They also weren’t the entire picture of either the novels or the author. This is a review of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Live-streamed opera is where we first saw Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, which is based on the Pushkin novel. Even though we weren’t provided with subtitles to the Met’s production from 2007, the imagery and the music were capable of conveying the story in and of themselves. Whenever I see fall leaves in piles on the ground, I’m reminded of the set design. This is a review of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.
The premise might be an old one, but what Pushkin does with it is worthy of praise. His writing flows with a concise clarity that is poetic in and of itself.
The Queen of Spades is a novella that is not too short and not too long. It’s a perfect short read for an afternoon or an evening, clocking in at approximately 82 pages including the prologue. The clarity of the prose and the flow of it make the reader nearly fly through it and want to finish it in one sitting if at all possible. This is a review of A. S. Pushkin’s The Queen of Spades.
This play is not just about politics. It tells the story of a personal revolution in the character of Wilhelm Tell himself. This is a review of Friedrich von Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell.
Due to how many adaptations it has had and how prominent it is in the canon of classic literature, I thought it would be a staple of used bookstores or the bigger new bookstores. Well, it isn’t. This is a review of Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris or The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.