sabato, maggio 30, 2020

A Kid's Guide to Coronavirus Rebecca Growe, MSW, LCSW and Julia Martin Burch, PhD illustrated by Viviana Garofoli

Today I received a newsletter from Magination Press. This one is a publishing house specialized on children. There was a free ebook we could download and that I would want to share with all of you.The title is: A Kid's Guide

to Coronavirus  Rebecca Growe, MSW, LCSW and Julia Martin Burch, PhD illustrated by Viviana Garofoli-

That these ones are complicated moments is vivible everywhere. My mother after two months of confinement today and yesterday enjoyed some time in a city close to us, discovering the same old world but pretty...altered. Shopping is more lazy! people are wearing masks and gloves like many super-heroes fighting against a shadow, a little enemy that we don't see but that we surely don't want to enter in contact with.

If adults are strained, if we suffer of lack of sleeping, if we are worried, if we check our newsmagazines with constant updates and sometimes certainties that we developed for a reason or another, children are also living a stressing existential moment. Life also in their case, turned upside down exactly like our ones.

Why can't they play anymore with their best mates? Why is there no school, so hated but, being a dream, so loved?

What is this coronavirus, that thing that changed their life and the ones of their parents, sometimes affecting heavily also the daily-routines of the parents?

With simplicicy, with kidness and with all the possible diplomacy, without hurting too much their psychological system (it depends by their age) you can find here the history of Covid-19 and the proper actions that need to be taken for fighting against it: from washing hands often repeating the alfabet 'til the end, passing through wearing masks as if we would be all super heroes busy to save the world and our existences.

It's also important to specify to children, that anyway (they have simplicity of adaptantion to new situations if compared to adult ones,) this sort of game against an evil, invisible creature soon or late will end and everyone will return to be free, hugging, kissing, shaking hands and enjoying the company of all our friends and relatives!

Just, we are at the beginning of this war.

Anna Maria Polidori 

giovedì, maggio 28, 2020

The Extinct Scene Late Modernism and Everyday Life by Thomas S. Davis

The Extinct

Scene Late Modernism and Everyday Life by Thomas S.Davis is a new and intense book by Columbia University Press.

What was the late Modernism? 

Substantially a historical moment perceived as a suspended time. Suspended time because of the uncertainty of the moment; suspended time because it could not permit to imagining  anything good for the close future, putting at the same time in constant emotional fear, people.

That was why, maybe, that "late Modernists" focused particularly, in their

writings, in the daily activities of people: the only certainty

 that there was, was that one: reality seen, reality experienced; at least, the wanted and searched reality, in opposition to the irrationality of the world. 


Not only: the existence of individuals started to be perceived always more as a mutant attribute of a situation still too precarious.

Modernists experienced the First World War and the Spanish Pandemic Flu. Once recovered from these two big traumas, the arrival of a lot of dictators in the entire Old Continent. Italy knew Mussolini, Spain lived a Civil War; Germany knew Hitler; then the Second World War.

History failed to be a rational place where to cuddle mind, body and expectations. It is correct to write that reality and everyday existence meant suspicion and anxiety. . 

Reality was so ugly that painters, writers tried to sublimate in a way or in another; the current of surrealism put on canvas abnormality of the reality, while literature tried to give different answers. 

Isherwood and Woolf tried their best for representing the present.

In particular Isherwood in a line described his modality of working: "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking." 

Not thinking: thinking became too devastating. Passivity helped to going on.

The description offered in his book Goodbye to Berlin the one of a decadent Germany, the Germany of Weimar affected by heavy economical problems.

Modernists tried to capture the instant in all intensity and so these fragmentations in their modernists way of writing mean and pretend a re-reading for trying to understand space, time and for 

establishing a more complete connection with every single moment described by the authors.

The big collapsed certainties for these writers were two: first of all the decline of a british centered world where rotated  the rest of the universe; it created a crisis of historical consciousness and the end as also said before of history as previously known: a rational, but more than rational I would add reassuring part of the existence: normality. 

The second: Capitalism. It had brought to most people wealth but at the moment, present and future appeared uncertain; and not only: the past was seen  like a wonderful dream disappeared too soon. In this mental condition, plenty of melancholy for the past, fear and panic for the present and future these writers told every aspect of the daily existence of the protagonists of their books: houses, but also interior spaces  like hobbies, sport, dance and other happy activities. 

In one of her books Woolf will portray in the character of Rose, 

interior sickness.

Just this portion of the book says a lot to my point of view about feelings and sensations felt by the same author and a way of escapism after all. It was a sick world and that  world lived  in a systemic disorder; 

itellectuals understood it. 

Because of it, and for giving voice opening a discussion more frank  to the best genial and beautiful minds, Henry Bergson created in 1922 the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

Participants were big international names like Paul Valery, Madame Marie Curie, Sigmund Freud, Tagore, Aldous Huxley, H.G.Wells. 

Particularly important was the correspondence of Albert Einstein with Sigmund Freud On War in 1932.

Henry Moore was Mr. Gothic Sketches. Grown up in a gothic world after all he has been the main exponent of this current; one of his sketch is the cover of this book.

Gothic sketches created during the Second World War. Elizabeth Bowen synthetized that historical moment as "Lucid abnormality of everyday life in a wartime city".

The arrival of Gothic, in a time so uncertain and terrifying under many ways was more precious and comforting, after all because permitted to put in sketches, words, etc, the horror, that, in opposite case would have remained repressed and confined in the most hidden part of the existence of people. 

Gothic means the research in the soul, mind of people of pulsions, fears, dissatisfactions; the Gothic enter in the most  intimate fears of 

men, women  passing through scaring new characters born by the fantasies of various authors and irrational worlds that these artists experienced, lived and had close to them. Gothic in fact is inspired by  reality, feelings of the moment: Gothic is unintersted at  the past or at the future. Gothic lives the moment, suck the moment and elaborate the moment with its hallucinations, contortions and horrors.

So, if in the past Gothic tried to give voice to dead people still speaking and active in our world, the chaos created by the advent of the Second World War captured the daily existence of people with bombs

 that destroyed palaces, animals, men giving an idea of a mass grave.

There was in Moore a recurrent theme: the one of the fear of being buried when a person still alive. And it happened! 

A comment in the Spectator regarding Moore said that he looked as 

"if he has been excavating in early tombs."

What did Moore was not to separate death and life but reading these states putting them in connection using an invisible wire that kept

the two conditions less identifiable.

Our time after all is  similar to the Modernist one and that's also why I warmly suggest to all of this reading.

I thank Columbia University Press for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 

mercoledì, maggio 27, 2020

Just Like Us The American Struggle to Understand Foreigners by Thomas Borstelmann

This book Just Like Us The Am

erican Struggle to Understand Foreigners by Thomas Borstelmann by Columbia University Press immediately captured my attention. Intriguing, this one is the reconstruction of the birth of the USA and its following steps for affirming without any doubt the model of a State, a Nation in the entire world; this, thanks to the strong American values perpetuated during the centuries; very ethical ones.

Every American you will meet along the way, he could be a fresh immigrant or a citizen of the USA from several generations once you will enter in confidence with you, at a certain point will tell you: "I am American!" and this phrase, if, at first will surprise you, say a lot about the strong identity felt by the American citizens.

So, being a model, Americans see with curiosity, sometimes skepticism people of other countries. Their model has been exported in most countries, so other countries and folks should learn by them.

The author then traces a reconstruction of the history of the USA and why we are at this point.

At first it was a colony, a ship of Pilgrims; in 1621 reached  the East Coast. Protestants, they colonized the place with their strong ethicity; at first the USA was a Protestant place, but later the arrival of people from other very diversified places posed a lot of questions. Black, Italians, Irish, Jewish, Russians, Hispanic all seen with great skepticism slowly slowly started to be appreciated and five kind of groups were introduced for classifying the large population of the USA. 

Italian Food entered prepotently in the collective imaginery of everyone as one of the best and healthy one of the world; Germans contributed largely at the expansion of the American cuisine as we know that.

Although with the time Jewish became million superating the number of people who raise in Israel and marriages with catholic or protestants became the 50% in the country, at long the USA has thought with a British touch, considering itself originally a british rib.

That's why at first UK's trips were, for the wealthiest classes reasons of priviledge, like studying in UK, or living in UK.

Of course, time, people, diversification meant a different change of perspective. 

Immigration was always very welcomed but there were bans in the remote past, for example, in 1880 there was the ban at chinese immigration; I found extremely interesting also the approach of the USA during rhe First and Second World War; Americans tried to convince common people with propaganda that they were fighting against Nazis and that there wasn't anything personal. In fact there is to say that after the war a lot of soldiers returned to the USA with german girls.

Living at the same time in the other part of the world no one of the Americans understood the abyss of the Nazi system and the final stermination of all Jewish and/or people with disabilities or problems.

So, it was after the end of the World War II that Americans read very differently all that mess, giving large space to all the survivors of the Holocaust and their witnesses in books, magazines, newsmagazines and these atrocities started to be known everywhere.

Dwight Ike Eisenhower maybe one of the best President of the USA in terms of inclusion of all individuals existing in the USA and the Planet (he also found People to People International) encouraged American's religious faith and instituted some prayers everyday to open  Cabinet meetings. Once they forgot to pray and once out Eisenhower told to the secretary: "Jesus Christ, we forgot the prayer!"

The horrible problems of the past, racism, anti-semitism sounded to be archieved by history; we all know that history repeat itself and we should repeat it often to ourselves but the period after the Second World War sounded great. Recently President Obama was elected as President and his main distinctive fact was that he has been the first black American President.

The era of the years of Barack Obama were happy, cheerful; apparently the world was going on well, although there was who started to plant the seed of hate; an hate that exploded once the President Trump, a populistic candidate at the Presidency, (as it happened in the entire world elections were won by populistic leaders), went in office.

A character completely different from the one of Barack Obama, it was not just a story of character, President Trump changed completely the immigration policy with a ban involving various countries, and policies in grade of permit to the anti-semitism, racism, xenofobia at home, etc to re-discover a new youthness.

Interesting book if you want to discover who Americans are, what they think of themselves and other people and countries, but also if you want a good, not too long book in grade of giving to you a fresh look and perspective of the intricated history and internal conflicts of a nation in grade to make the difference for the entire world.

Highly recommended.

I thank Columbia University Press for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 

lunedì, maggio 25, 2020

Nigel My Family and Other Dogs by Monty Don

I picked up this book just before the quarantine in the emporium created by the charity Books for Dogs in Umbertide. 

Nigel My Family
and Other Dogs by Monty Don is not just a wonderful book but it tells the life essence of the author, that, gardens apart, are dogs. As Monty Don confesses in his book, his family has always had dogs around: sometimes troublemakers, as you will read, but undoubitedly his family has never lived without dogs for a second.
When he went to the university he had Gretel; a symbiotic relationship. When he studied, read, when he went to a pub, wherever he went, Gretel was with him. When he started the relationship with Sarah, once he called her Gretel, the name of his dog. 

Nigel arrived when Monty Don a mature man. Nigel is a solid dog, a golden retriever, so the perfect dog for having company and affection. Nigel was and is more than this because he will be part of his documentaries enjoying to be on screen, and as Don confesses, he became with the time a real star, receiving for Christmas's time more Christmas's greetings than the rest of his family. He is appreciated and often people asks to mr Don: How's Nigel? 

This friendly and captivating book is precious also because will let you understand the most common errors committed by dog owners, and how to treat our dogs.
Don remembers breakfast. He trained Nigel in a way that he hadn't to pretend anything from him in terms of food while he was having breakfast. Nigel learnt that; simply, he had to wait for his turn.

The gardens created with the time by Monty Don in his big house have been the most diversified ones and the most creative ones. I was impressed by the Lime Walk. Monty Don planted wagons of lime trees, creating a corner of Paradise; although as you will see his gardens and so favorite spots of Nigel are so many.

When Monty Don wrote this book Nigel was 8 years old; at the moment he should be 11. Don has also treated the thematic of the departure of Nigel and where he will be buried.
Don lost many dogs, and Gretel maybe the most significat one, maybe, considered the end of his past and the arrival of a new existence.

With the time, and with Nigel starting to ageing the idea of another golden retriever, this time a girl called Nellie. Character completely different from the one of Nigel, it sounds an adventure.

The beauty of Monty Don is that he is in grade to understand dogs very well and with him there is the certainty that these pets will be well trained and will become disciplined creatures. As Don admits he doesn't love when people imagine these pets like children of humans. They are dogs, with their own desires and with their own character. Each of them is different.
I found interesting the reconstruction of the arrival of dogs in our society as pet companions and the creation of the golden retriever breed but also how dogs think in the immediate and in the past.

The book is plenty of pictures, imagines of Nigel, and all the rest of dogs owned by Monty Don new and old.

The cover is absolutely beautiful, a sign of extreme happiness between a dog and a human being.

Beautiful, great reading! 

Anna Maria Polidori 

sabato, maggio 23, 2020

Gettiamo il Nostro Corpo nella Lotta Il Giornalismo di Pier Paolo Pasolini edited by Luciano De Giusti and Angela Felice

In this new book by Marsilio Editori Gettiamo il Nostro
Corpo nella Lotta Il Giornalismo di Pier Paolo Pasolini edited by Luciano De Giusti and Angela Felice the complete portrait of a reporter, writer, filmakers who tried with his words to fight for his own ideas. Collaborator of Il Corriere della Sera, and many other prestigious realities, Pasolini started his journalistic career at the age of 20 and substantially till at the moment of his departure.
In these essays you will find covered his entire existence, from the beginning to the Pasolini "politician"; the essaysts  analyze his sides, sometimes contradictories passing through the various thematic he loved to expand in the community. 
His relationship with the PCI for example. Pasolini was expulse by the political party when the dirigents discovered that he had had some sexual intercourse during a sagra with some male teenagers in 1949 but the wire with the PCI won't never disappear, although it will be tormented. Scrutinized the Paolini reporter, his relationship with cinema, poetry, chaos, magazines and newsmagazines, this book is great if you search to understand better the existence and work of one of the biggest italian journalists, passed to the legend because of his tragical end.

I thank Marsilio Editori for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 

venerdì, maggio 22, 2020

Intellectuals and World War I A Central European Perspective Edited by Tomasz Pudtoki and Kamil Ruszala

It was a heavy, sometimes devastating impact, the one of the First World War and inye
If you want to discover much more, there is a new book Intellectuals
and World War I A Central European Perspective Edited by Tomasz Pudtoki and Kamil Ruszala tome published by Jagiellonian University Press.

This book offers a vision or historians and scholars and what meant the First World War in the world of letters, in the minds of intellectuals, in their thoughts, in their habits, and if they survived, seeing and analyzing also how the World War changed their world and more than this, their way of thinking.

A war is not simple and the First World War interested the entire humanity. The creatives ones taken in consideration the one  of East and Central Europe. I admit that I didn't know most of them but this trip was great for this reason.

Some examples of the ones you will meet? I picked up some examples.

Béla Balazs. He was a  close friend of philosophers and future librettist of Bluebird's Castle of Béla Bartòk; when sent to war, fell wounded and hospitalized. In that occasion of forced seclusion, Balazs started to write his essays about his long hospitalization. 

Sad and shocked because his battalion composed by 960 people was gone, he felt the body as a metaphor of death and passage to another existence, sometimes pretty abruptly thanks to the war. 

While Balazs joined the war he attacked all that intellectuals who preferred to look out of the window what it was going on in the world, without to do nothing and without to fight in the front.

He felt, considering that he was much more than a simple soldier, the time spent at the front precious. And in this sense in his composition "Princess" the woman is seen like the "feminization of non combat" while the man like the militarism on the front.

Another intellectual who joined the war and lost the existence in the battlefield was the hungharian reporter and writer Elémer Banyai. Thanks to his heroism this intellectual became a hero for his nation.

Jozsed Nadass not just joned the war but later they amputated one of his legs. A man, during a war, said the writer, sees just the brutalization of the world, becoming at the same time, brutal. 
He "abhorred war". He was young, explained in his writings, and he did not know exactly what it meant the word war, as later would have sadly understood.
Not just this, Nadass suffered also of the close, too much close contact with the rest of soldiers; his nudity, his sharing everything with the rest of them.

The story of Hugo Zuckermman is so sad. He was a man of letters and a poet. Part of the 275.000-400.000 Jewish Hasburg's soldiers, he tragically died in the front. He wrote a poem Reiterlied that became immensely famous. Published when he was still alive, after his tragic departure, followed by the horrible and devastating suicide of his wife the year later in 1915, it gave a perspective of who Hugo was obtaining a big success.

Beautiful book, erudite but accessible to everyone, you can jump here and there, for reading profiles, stories of intellectuals who made the difference leaving important messages to the humanity.

Highly recommended.

I thank Columbia University Press for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori  

giovedì, maggio 21, 2020

Lust, Lies and Monarchy The Secrets Behind Britain's Royal Paintings by Stephen Millar

Lust, Lies and Monarchy
The Secrets Behind Britain's Royal Paintings by Stephen Millar is a wonderful, captivating new travel, cultural guide of UK, its glorious past and present.
Each chapter treated by the author, offer to the reader a large explanation of what that monarch meant for that time to England or Scotland including his/her private life with her/his sufferances, doubts, joys and scandals, accompanying it with the explanation of paintings, scultpure realized for him/her by very important painters and sculptures, I want to remember for them all Bernini.

In terms of scandals this book is pretty intriguing and some stories are absolutely funny!

For example we will see that King Charles II had a favorite, and we will learn he asked to his wife of accepting her. The wife, frustrated, depressed, sent him to hell and living many other frustrations because the king spent most time with his favorite and they had together five children while the queen seemed that could not procreate at all.

George IV was absolutely a womanizer. He loved women and so he ended up to marrying two women. When one of them said him she wasn't interested in a story like that one the king tried to kill himself and so the poor lady accepted to marry him. 
They found a disgraceful priest who celebrated this second marriage, Rev. Robert Burt his name, although maybe the happiest creature of all these stories was Princess Louise, the daughter of Queen Victoria. 
Eccentric and exuberant girl, she was a creative and loved to surround herself with painters and sculpturs; she started an affair when 18 years with a member of the royal housold. Impregnated, the baby once born was given up to a family close to the royal family. 

Immediately after that, Louise felt the influence of the sculptur Joseph Edgar Boehm becoming her lover although he was much more old than her. He was a married man and this relationship continued per many years. At a certain point, searching for some stabilization she married a man who later resulted gay; Louise tried all her best for not let go her spouse outside during the night, searching for young workers. Louise, considering the demostic private problems she had with her husband, guessed that she had to continue her relationship with Boehm. Pity that the poor man died once tragically in his studio, but oh, there are two versions: the first one that Louise discovered the body once that she went to his studio; the second that the poor man died while having a sexual intercourse with Louise. 
Anyway, Louise spent a very long age and she peacefully died at the age of 91.
It would be possible thanks to the DNA to see if the child Louise had had was his one as everyone said but investigation was blocked as you will read. Pity. 

Much more tragic the past of the monarchy plenty of devastating facts. Poison, murderers. 
An episodes I felt horribly was the murder  of Edward and Richard, sons of Edward IV. They have been brutally killed for a story of power and succession to the throne. 
They were beautiful!
Same story occurred to Lady Jane Grey, executed cutting her head after just few days of reign. 
The book arrives 'til Elizabeth II.
At the end of the book four Royal London Tours for admiring these paintings, real masterpieces.

Beautiful, highly recommended!

I thank Museyon Books for the copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori