The Forum Book Club thread 2020. July: My brilliant Friend

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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby jeffers » Fri May 15, 2020 11:03 am

I decided to stick to simpler/shorter readings for the time being, but I may join in next month. L'Étranger has been on my "must read" backburner for a long long time.
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby badger » Fri May 15, 2020 11:33 am

I've had Meursault, contre-enquête sitting on my bookshelf for a while, so I would read it next month if it were on the list.
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby Mista » Fri May 22, 2020 10:26 pm

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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby kanewai » Sat May 23, 2020 12:14 am

Did anyone besides Mista read any of the books in May?
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby David27 » Sat May 23, 2020 2:11 am

Don’t get hasty, I have 2 and 1/2 chapters left in the Winter Queen. I would have liked to have read the plague by Camus, but I’m not the fastest reader in Russian and I’m trying to read and listen to the audiobook for extra Russian practice.

Briefly, I enjoyed the book for a trainer for learning Russian. A modern book that thematically fits into the the early 2000s (international secret Organisation, conspiracy, lack of trust in leadership) but that takes place in 19th century (a more fun setting in my eyes), so I also get vocabulary that will be useful as I move onto more serious works that were actually written in the 19th century (vocabulary on horses, carriages, military of the time, political positions and formal addresses, etc). It’s the third book of Akunin now that I’ve read, also having read Turkish Gambit and Death of Achilles. I would say Death of Achilles was the best of them, Turkish Gambit and Winter Queen about the same (with the caveat that I still have to finish the book, but now that I started writing and am on a roll I’m just putting all my thoughts out there). Comparing to Metro 2033, I far prefer Akunin.

If you want to read a modern female Russian author (tired of Russian machismo and bravado), then I can suggest Виктория Токарева. Her writing is good. I bought a book of her short stories and read a few years ago, but unfortunately lent it out to someone and never got it back. увы!
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby smallwhite » Sat May 23, 2020 9:21 am

I read half of La peste (The Plague) by Albert Camus. I am not a literature person, I don't want to know whether it's a cicada or a cricket that's chirping in the rose bush or is it actually a camellia bush, I just want to know who killed who and why :P I think the book was well-written and I liked it, though. The best part being... I looked up and copied 596 words from it :geek: The words seem quite concrete, everyday and useful.

Looking forward to June's.
Last edited by smallwhite on Sat May 23, 2020 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby Maiwenn » Sat May 23, 2020 9:28 am

I finished The Plague and will be reading Southern Mail this weekend.

Some non-spoiler thoughts on The Plague:
- There was seemingly only one reference to North Africans/Arabs in the entire book (the journalist had been sent to research the living conditions of Arabs, if my memory does not fail me). The 1940s were an... interesting time in the colonial history of Oran/Algeria/North Africa. It made me wonder how removed French citizens from mainland France lived their lives from the autochtone culture and people. I realize this wasn't central to the book at all, but I still found it weird.
- Camus began writing at the end of WW2. Most of North Africa was under control of the Vichy French (and therefore formally aligned with Germany), but loyalties among those living there were mixed. Given the timing, I can see the plague being an allegory for the spread of Nazism. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Torch#Central_Task_Force_–_Oran]Operation Torch, the allied invasion of North Africa took place while Camus was writing.[/url]
After writing the above, I came across this quote from Camus on The Plague's French wikipedia page:
« La Peste, dont j’ai voulu qu’elle se lise sur plusieurs portées, a cependant comme contenu évident la lutte de la résistance européenne contre le nazisme. La preuve en est que cet ennemi qui n’est pas nommé, tout le monde l’a reconnu, et dans tous les pays d’Europe. Ajoutons qu'un long passage de La Peste a été publié sous l'Occupation dans un recueil de Combat et que cette circonstance à elle seule justifierait la transposition que j'ai opérée. La Peste, dans un sens, est plus qu’une chronique de la résistance. Mais assurément, elle n’est pas moins. »
My bad translation: The Plague, which I wanted to be read through many scopes, nevertheless has as its obvious content the fight of the European resistance against nazism. The proof is that the enemy is not named, but everyone knows it in every country of Europe. Adding to that, a long passage of The Plague was published during the Occupation in a collection of Combat and this circumstance only would justify the transposition that I made. The Plague, in a sense, is more than an accounting of the resistance. But, assuredly, it is not less.

- I very much related to the answer of the question "How will we know when things have gotten back to normal?" "When there are new movies at the cinema."

This was actually my first time reading Camus. :oops: And Southern Mail will be my first time reading Saint-Exupéry.... I'm not sure how I've managed to go so long without reading either.

EDIT to add: In case anyone else was wondering what post-WW2 Oran looked like, I found these two videos on youtube:

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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby Mista » Sat May 23, 2020 3:06 pm

Maiwenn wrote:There was seemingly only one reference to North Africans/Arabs in the entire book (the journalist had been sent to research the living conditions of Arabs, if my memory does not fail me). The 1940s were an... interesting time in the colonial history of Oran/Algeria/North Africa. It made me wonder how removed French citizens from mainland France lived their lives from the autochtone culture and people. I realize this wasn't central to the book at all, but I still found it weird.

This is equally striking in The Stranger, if not more - precisely because it's not central to the book there either, but to modern eyes it's an unavoidable theme. I think it gives an accurate picture of the situation, though. I just finished reading L'Art de perdre by Alice Zeniter, which tells the history of a family who had to emigrate from Algeria to France in 1962, and follows the family over three generations, and in the first part, which mostly takes place in Algeria in the fifties, it is very clear that it wasn't normal for French colonists to mingle with the indigenuous people. Obviously, since this is a recent book by an author of Algerian descent, the attitude towards the situation is different, but the reality of the situation as portrayed is pretty much the same.

I also think this is very interesting, and that's one of the reasons I'd like to read Meursault, contre-enquête
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby marie39 » Sat May 23, 2020 4:21 pm

kanewai wrote:Did anyone besides Mista read any of the books in May?


May is not over yet!

I did finish reading Winter Queen in Spanish, and I hope to finish The Chestnut Man also in Spanish by the end of the month. It took me longer to get through Winter Queen than I would have liked. It started off good but then I kind of lost some interest at some point so my reading pace slowed down. It's wasn't bad overall but I wasn't as engaged as I would have like to have been. I found the audio for The Chestnut Man on scribd in Spanish so I'm trying to read while listening to the audio. The audio slows me down a bit but I could use the listening practice.
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby David27 » Mon May 25, 2020 7:54 pm

Just as an update, I took advantage of the weekend and finished Winter Queen. The book had it's strengths and weaknesses, but overall enjoyable enough for me to finish it in time for the book club timeline, so I'm happy with it. I have some thoughts on the ending, but won't give spoilers here since the month isn't over.

For next month, it looks like we're doing Camus? I'm interesting in reading La Peste, but I'll start with l'étranger since that's next months choice, and then time permitting move on to La Peste. I read l'étranger ~10 years ago, but read it quickly in one weekend, so details are now fuzzy and could use the refresher.

All 3 of the reading suggestions are fantastic, Aenid I would love to read if I studied Latin, and Mersault also looks like an interesting modern critique of l'étranger.
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