Competition for cars, the movies, television, and liquor: LitBash 28

Can books compete with cars, the movies, television, and liquor? They can and do, if the books are by authors who were...

Born this week:

Ivan Vazov, Bulgaria

Luigi Pirandello, Italy
"Woe to him who doesn't know how to wear his mask, be he king or pope!"

Marlene Streeruwitz, Austria

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, France

"Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye."

Oriana Fallaci, Italy
"There are moments in Life when keeping silent becomes a fault, and speaking an obligation. A civic duty, a moral challenge, a categorical imperative from which we cannot escape."

Georges Duhamel, France
"It is always brave to say what everyone thinks."

Mongo Beti, Cameroon

George Sand, France
"Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life."

Juan Carlos Onetti, Urugway

Hjalmar Soderberg, Sweden

"We know so litle about one another. We embrace a shadow and love a dream."

Hermann Hesse, Germany
"In the beginning was the myth."

Nikolai Polevoy, Russia

Franz Kafka, Austria
"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us."

Francis Carco, France

Died this week:

Martin Alfred Hansen, Denmark

Malcolm Lowry, UK
"How alike are the groans of love, to those of the dying."

Leopold Marechal, Argentina

Tove Marika Jansson, Finland

"A person can find anything if he takes the time, that is, if he can afford to look. And while he’s looking, he’s free, and he finds things he never expected."

Albert Morel, France

Jose Vasconcelos, Mexico

Harriet Beecher Stowe, USA

"The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end."

Konstandinos Theotokis, Greece

Jean Prevot, France

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, France
"The novel can't compete with cars, the movies, television, and liquor. A guy who's had a good feed and tanked up on good wine gives his old lady a kiss after supper and his day is over. Finished."

Ernest Hemingway, USA
"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."

Ludwig Uhse, Germany

Vladimir Nabokov, Russia
"What is this jest in majesty? This ass in passion? How do God and Devil combine to form a live dog?"


"What do we give up by reading an e-book?"

In case you had better things to do last Friday, here are excerpts of some of the book panels that took place that day, starting with a title that spells doom (the equivalent to "The ends is nigh" ;)

"What do we give up by reading an e-book?":

"...while e-readers (and e-book files) are more compact and portable than the traditional print book, we sacrifice the literal searchability of paper books. While paper books encourage us to read non-linearly, with a personal connection to the text, and to continue “reading” long after we’ve put down a book; e-readers and e-books may signal a different type of reading — something impermanent (more throwaway), less personal, more distracted, and ultimately less meditative."

And "The psychology of reading":

"The panelists in this session shared their findings on the psychology behind the act of reading. Their study is based on the definition of stories as model worlds that allow the reader to be both themselves and someone else at once. They compared the experiences of reading Chekov in his original form and re-written in plain language to find out whether content or literary quality causes both social- and self-transformation.

The panel worked at pinpointing why literary quality (and not content) makes the mind more malleable, leading to transformations in personality and emotion. This quality is elusive, of course. To bring it all back to technology, the panel ended by posing the question: “How are new technologies changing they way we experience self-transformation through narrative?"



Graduation from the school of life: LitBash 27

School's over? Not the school of life! Want to pass the school of life with flying colors? You'll need a library: "Nobody graduated from a library. Nobody graduated without one." Build yours. Start with books by authors who were...

Born this week:

Emil Cioran, Romania
"Life inspires more dread than death — it is life which is the great unknown."

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Brasil
"Out of the sighs of one generation are kneaded the hopes of the next."

José Pereira da Graça Aranha, Brasil

Jean Paul Sartre, France
"The more one is absorbed in fighting evil, the less one is tempted to place the good in question."

Francoise Sagan, France
"Of course the illusion of art is to make one believe that great literature is very close to life, but exactly the opposite is true. Life is amorphous, literature is formal."

Erich Maria Remarque, Germany
"Work does not take much of an artist’s time, on the contrary, it takes the least time. The idea, however, and its long maturing period is equally important. Creative work is divided into active and passive."

Peter Seeberg, Denmark

Hans Christian Branner, Denmark

Wolfgang Koeppen, Germany

George Courteline, France
"It is better to waste one's youth than to do nothing with it at all."

Benito Lynch, Argentina

George Orwell, UK
"Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

Ingeborg Bachmann, Austria
"I am writing with my burnt hand about the nature of fire."

Martin Andersen Nexo, Denmark
"Every mother hopes that her daughter will marry a better man than she did, and is convinced that her son will never find a wife as good as his father did."

Died this week:

Niccolo Machiavelli, Florence

"Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts."

Boris Vian, France
"There are only two things: love, all sorts of love, with pretty girls, and the music of New Orleans or Duke Ellington. Everything else ought to go, because everything else is ugly."

Charles Vildrac, France


The medicine chest of the soul - LitBash 26

Something on your chest, but you cannot quite figure out what it is? There is a cure: books. A library is "The medicine chest of the soul." Build your own library. Start with books by writers who were...

Born this week:

Dorothy L. Sayers, UK
"Trouble shared is trouble halved."

Che Guevara, Argentina
"I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves."

Augusto Roa Bastos, Paraguay
"Let us be free, the rest matters not."

Harriet Stowe, USA
"The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end."

Hermann Kant, Germany

Giovanni Boccaccio, Italy

"In the affairs of this world, poverty alone is without envy."

Joyce Carol Oates, USA
"The written word, obviously, is very inward, and when we're reading, we're thinking. It's a sort of spiritual, meditative activity. When we're looking at visual objects, I think our eyes are obviously directed outward, so there's not as much reflective time. And it's the reflectiveness and the spiritual inwardness about reading that appeals to me."

Victor Nekrasov, Russia

Ivan Goncharov, Russia
"It is a trick among the dishonest to offer sacrifices that are not needed, or not possible, to avoid making those that are required."

Died this week:

Camille Lemonnier, Belgium

Osamu Dazai, Japan

"The weak fear happiness itself. They can harm themselves on cotton wool. Sometimes they are wounded even by happiness."

Jerome K. Jerome, UK
"Love is like the measles; we all have to go through it."

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, UK
"Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance."

Ernst Weiss, Austria

Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina

"All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art."

Hans Rudolf Kirk, Denmark

Elsa Triolet, France

Samuel Butler, UK
"The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore."

Maxim Gorky, Russia
"One has to be able to count, if only so that at fifty one doesn't marry a girl of twenty."

James Matthew Barrie, UK

"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."

William Golding, UK
"The man who tells the tale if he has a tale worth telling will know exactly what he is about and this business of the artist as a sort of starry-eyed inspired creature, dancing along, with his feet two or three feet above the surface of the earth, not really knowing what sort of prints he's leaving behind him, is nothing like the truth."

Writers are obligated to live for themselves

"And yet I had not been wrong, perhaps, after all, in sacrificing not only the vain pleasures of the world but the real pleasure of friendship to that of spending the whole day in this green garden.  People who enjoy the capacity—it is true that such people are artists, and I had long been convinced that I should never be that—are also under an obligation to live for themselves. And friendship is a dispensation from this duty, an abdication of self.  Even conversation, which is the mode of expression of friendship, is a superficial digression which gives us no new acquisition. We may talk for a lifetime without doing more than indefinitely repeat the vacuity of a minute, whereas the march of thought in the solitary travail of artistic creation proceeds downwards, into the depths, in the only direction that is not closed to us, along which we are free to advance—though with more effort, it is true—towards a goal of truth.  And friendship is not merely devoid of virtue, like conversation, it is fatal to us as well. For the sense of boredom which it is impossible not to feel in a friend's company (when, that is to say, we must remain exposed on the surface of our consciousness, instead of pursuing our voyage of discovery into the depths) for those of us in whom the law of development is purely internal—that first impression of boredom our friendship impels us to correct when we are alone again, to recall with emotion the words uttered by our friend, to look upon them as a valuable addition to our substance, albeit we are not like buildings to which stones can be added from without, but like trees which draw from their own sap the knot that duly appears on their trunks, the spreading roof of their foliage."
Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove


You can live several lives: LitBash 25

"You can live several lives" [and not be a cat] simply by reading a book. Start with books by authors who were...

Born this week:

Alexander Pushkin, Russia
"Ecstasy is a glassful of tea and a piece of sugar in the mouth"

Thomas Mann, Germany

"We are most likely to get angry and excited in our opposition to some idea when we ourselves are not quite certain of our own position, and are inwardly tempted to take the other side."

Vladimir Zazubrin, Russia

"Public executions enshroud even the most dangerous criminal in a halo of heroism."

Saeed Nafisi, Iran

Margarite Yourcenar, France

"The unfortunate thing is that, because wishes sometimes come true, the agony of hoping is perpetuated."

Maria Luisa Bombal, Chile
"It may be that true happiness lies in the conviction that one has irremediably lost happiness. Then we can begin to move through life without hope or fear, capable of finally enjoying all the small pleasures, which are the most lasting."

Saul Bellow, USA
"There is only one way to defeat the enemy, and that is to write as well as one can. The best argument is an undeniably good book."

Yasunari Kawabata, Japan
"There can be no world of the Buddha without the world of the devil. And the world of the devil is the world difficult of entry. It is not for the weak of heart."

Leopoldo Marechal, Argentina

William Styron, USA
"A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it."

Died this week:

Gerhart Hauptmann, Germany

Julien Benda, France
"And History will smile to think that this is the species for which Socrates and Jesus Christ died."

Henry Miller, USA
"The history of the world is the history of a privileged few."

George Sand, France
"I have an object, a task, let me say the word, a passion. The profession of writing is a violent and almost indestructible one."

Severo Sarduy, Cuba

Takeo Arishima, Japan

Ugo Betti, Italy
"Memories are like stones, time and distance erode them like acid."

Miguel Angel Asturias, Guatemala

Sigrid Undset, Sweden

"I hated school so intensely. It interfered with my freedom. I avoided the discipline by an elaborate technique of being absent-minded during classes."

"I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their store-chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily use thumb them, batter them, wear them out, who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults."