All Quiet on the Western Front is given from the perspective of the losing side, which is still rare when it comes to war literature, especially in translation and from this era.
I think it’s probably immediately obvious why this play is controversial. It’s a bold statement about the actions (or, more accurately, lack of action) of an institution that would rather forget everything around the time period.
The reader is treated to scenes, vignettes, lush descriptions of the landscape and the culture. Sit back and enjoy it. If you’re waiting for the plot to carry you, it just isn’t going to happen — and that’s not what Berlin Alexanderplatz is trying to accomplish.
In ‘8 Ball Bunny’, Bugs Bunny is trying to get a cute little Penguin back to the South Pole. At several points along the journey, a man I now recognize as Humphrey Bogart approaches Bugs and asks, “Can you help a fellow American who’s down on his luck?” As an adult who has seen the film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre several times, I laugh uproariously as this parody of the movie’s opening sequence.
Reading correspondence is not quite the same as reading a novel, obviously, but it can be just as valuable when it comes to understanding a writer, their work, literature of the period, or the general customs of the time period. Writers writing about writing can be a very enlightening read. This is a review of Letters to a Young Poet.
This is a book that primarily about people and about parties, with descriptions of them that are at once acidic and amusing, and can also be seen as an extensive critique of English society at this moment in history. This is a review of Elias Canetti’s Party in the Blitz (Party im Blitz).
It might seem strange, and I’m sure it’s not a preference that many people share, but sometimes when I feel my worst — very anxious, very depressed, very not well — and can’t sleep, scary stories are what I turn to. There’s something about ghosts, goblins, vampires, and spooky houses in settings a hundred and fifty years old that draws me out of the racing thoughts my brain gets stuck in. This is a review of Horror Stories.
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.
In some modernist novels that I’ve read, I’ve noticed a particular trade-off that sometimes happens between form and narrative. I was pleased to see that Arno Schmidt is a writer that can perform the delicate balancing act without leaving the narrative behind to do so. This is a review of Nobodaddy’s Children.
I’m going to admit it right off the bat, Doctor Faustus is not an easy read. For the first three hundred pages it is a difficult slog up an impossible mountain that one cannot see the peak of. This a review of Thomas Mann’s magnum opus.