venerdì, gennaio 15, 2021

Only a Lodger... And Hardly That by Vesna Main

 Only a Lodger...


And Hardly That by Vesna Main published by Seagull Press is an evocative, beautiful book on the existence and how hard or sunny, or funny or simply wonderfully complicated, can be.


There are four stories and a poetic excursion.


I read this book in a few hours and absorbing it, is like a long digestion because of the thematic treated, the characters introduced to us, readers; it is an hypnotic book that you'll love a lot and that, first of all, will let you think; at the end you will want to hugh the protagonists of all these tales, because of their lack of fortunes, because of their misadventures, because of the confusion created by third people to them so that the existence was altered forever, creating maybe creative people; minds born because of an internal intense sufferance. You will also imagine these people in your existence and how they could have made the difference; revolutionaries, fearless characters, people of culture. 


In the first tale, the longest one of the book, the protagonist is She; her mother was the center of the existence of this not yet four years old kid, when the story starts; a mother who loved to change the clothes of She three times per day; they hadn't to be necessarely dirty; a mother, this one, who loved to punish psychologically and physically her baby if she lacked; if She didn't remember a piece of poem, something crucial but important for her mother; a mother who, coldly, has never demostrated her any kind of love, just severity; a babysitter pretty sweet disappeared abruptly and She, didn't never understand the reason but she missed her tremendously; this toddler at six years went to a local school, not properly the one expected by her mother; there were children much different, and more than once they were unpleasants.


Love, love, love. She would have always wanted to be loved, but she could not to be loved, because, she didn't know how to love or better, what it meant the word love. 

Once at the university when she understood that a very good student didn't pass an exam, she asked to a common friend if the husband of that girl had left her: her friend started to laugh asking her if for case she was joking because for sure they were not together because of university and the failure of an exam wouldn't never been so remarkably important in the couple. 

She didn't understand, because in her case, love meant to do all her best at school: so a bad vote would have meant to be less loved by her parents and in particular, by her mother.


Growing she dreamt of going somewhere else, for re-start everything; she developed, maybe because of her mother's character, so hard, controvertial, the idea of cultivating some girlfriends like lovers. These women laughed at her, and she couldn't never establish a good relationship; two big love, two men will mark the existence of tribulated She. The decision to become a writer, because she needed to tale, to report. For sufferance, because it was a catartic way for making some peace with her past. Memories, tales of a remote past, and the present, with her memory fading away. It is one of the best short tales I have ever read. Intense, felt, written with heart, profoundity, analyzing, going deep, and putting in that words a sincerity and passion.


In another tale the character of Pavel Horvat. Pavel was a man of culture, someone intensely curios and a man who culturally bettered his existence for all his life. 

He was a great teachers, admired by everyone but he didn't find interests for women. People started to think that maybe was homosexual. Simply, he had a family, abandoned that one and now he was fine in the solitude of the four walls of his house.

He was a man starved of learning. He thought that the existence was too short for spending it in a too silly way, so he read a lot, learnt many languages, spent time in many countries, was enchanted by the italian language, was suprised and addicted by every word in the world, meaning, smell, because Pavel thought that words smelled as well; he was in love with every language he learnt. Every year was a different discovery and vacations the best time of the year for learning more.

In the while Pavel every Christmas for thirty years sent anonymously at four people of his family four packages plenty of books, anonymously; do you know the secret of Pulcinella? Everyone knew who the sender was: his relatives knew that was Pavel/Viktor who sent these pacakges, but they didn't tell a lot about it if not to be absolutely grateful for the thought. Why Pavel did it? Absolutely, at first, for culturally enriching his dear ones. Why did he choose certain books? Maybe Pavel wanted to "drive" the readings of his relatives. 

Yes, maybe there was the idea of "driving" the reading existence of their beloved ones, making them curious. One of them is sure of it; that packages had meant the discovery of great novels, a passion never abandoned anymore.

Great Pavel! Great idea!


The Fourth Character is the story of four photographs of beloved relatives of the author, analyzed with great disgressions; she starts with grand-father Francis and her; Francis in the pic was in his 60s just retired from a big newspaper and book publishing. 

Francis more than anyone else instilled in the existence of her niece the love for knowledge and reading; better, she says that "It was with my grandfather Francis, and not with my parents, who were far too busy making a living, and far too cynical to think of changing the world, that I learnt to appreciate the life of the mind."


Then the author analyzes the facial expression of her grand-father. He doesn't appear happy to be there, he doesn't smile. Realistically just some time before that that picture was taken, people were not comfy with pictures. 

When pictures were born taking a picture, a memory, was a long process: people wore their most elegant clothes, it was necessary to go to the studio of the photographer. 

In these first pictures, admits the author, taking pictures started to become more normal but at the same time perfection resulted distant because photographs not taken by a real photographer.

In the second picture the comparison of the group of people with the painting by Manet La Musique aux Tuileries. 


What did that picture of a group of people taken after a lunch mean to the author? A great sadness because most of the people she knew very well passed away and just maybe two toddlers, now in their late 80's, or early 90's.


The painting of Le Tuileries, where there are unknown people, results immortal to her because she didn't know them; their existences is perpetuated and fixated on the painting; sure, in the pic where there were her relatives, she understands all the mortality of the existence.

There is also the analysis of this group of people: all from the same social class, people derived from the working class but that hoped to reach best results during the life.


In the third picture the happy birthday, her grand-father Francis at that time just 40 years had developed big problems with alcohol. She married a woman she loved but the parents of her were skeptical because they "read" in him a revolutionary spirit: Francis was in love for socialism.

His wife didn't want to notice the problem of her husband and continued with her own existence.

In the last picture we will be introduced at the extramarital relationship Francis developed with the time. More: during the last world war, he joined the anti-fascists group. He was put in jail and tortured. 

Now, that her grand-parents are disappeared, the author imagines what it is still remained in her soul of them; then, flashes of a remote past, voices whispering in her ears, she remembers...Her grand-father Francis reading some of the Faust of Goethe, Crime and Punishment, Overcoat, by Gogol. A picture can become a story, and objects are remarking not just the time passed by but also memories of our story.


The fourth story the one of a man, pretty wealthy in his forties, unmarried but with the idea of settling down. Maria the daughter of a man he knows very well become the center of his attention. He will try with all himself: he will invite the family of the girl at dinners, in his house in the countryside, he will speak with the father of the girl, he will cultivate under many ways the friendship with the girl. Nothing: after three years, one day he will discover that the girl married another man. As his mother would have said..."Ottel... was not to meant to be."


The Acrobat is a section dedicated to a poem and telling the story of a girl, Maria in love with a flying circus performer.


This book is a gem, trust me. You'll love it and you'll treasure forever.


I thank Seagull Press for the physical copy of the book.


Anna Maria Polidori 


mercoledì, gennaio 13, 2021

Le Second Métier de l'écrivain by Colette

 Le Second Métier de l'écrivain by Colette


published by L'Editions de L'Herne focus the attention in a new phaenomenon appeared in France as also in other parts of the world with the advent of the XX century: publicity and ads.


Most societies, brands, for selling more, for let know their products at a largest population, established contacts with reporters, journalists, writers, asking to them of writing good reviews. The idea: reaching as many people as possible. 

It was a paid job, le second métier de l'ècrivan, voilà! and of course Colette, one of the most known and beloved french writers who wrote mainly for female magazines was involved in this fertil and productive activity pretty intensely.


She wrote with passion: she didn't just wanted to "sell" the products, but she wanted to leave a piece of herself for her readers, sharing memories, sensorialities, experiences, creating in these pieces, wonderful and felt expressions of pure adoration for the product she was writing of.


Colette created also a brand with her same name founded on 1932 and the author cured all the aspects of the publicity. 


Many perfumes have been reviewed by Colette, like Parfum d'Orsay, Lanvin, Raucour and more. Colette explained the magic of the perfume in the various part of the bodies and how the nostrils can be invaded by wonderful and absolutely stunning fragrances for building memories, and unique moments in the existence of people.


Everything changes says in a piece, the one of d'Orsay, Colette, including Parfums. Colette confesses she used the same parfum for more than 40 years. What was exactly a perfume for Colette? "Les plus indispensable del superflus". Why this? Because a perfume starts a pure physical poetry. Perfumes are a noble caprice, a voluptous touch, they add romantic notes to our daily existences.


Speaking about fashion these ones some of her words regarding Hermes. Hermes was in grade to read the Parisienne lady, disconnecting her from her fragilities althought there is a peculiar strenght in grade of donating to them a lot of grace.


Hermés means patience, Hermés means perfection and Colette asks to women of imitating the same philosophy of the exclusive branch maturing its same patience. Brands are also viewed by Colette with human, inspiring  characteristics.


For the Grand Maison de Blanc Colette starts describing a morning with all its sweetnesses: bread, honey, milk but also the vapour of boiling chocolate: early morning, for all the creatives, for all that people looking at the new and still uncertain day with expectations and dreams; but also her women, her elegant readers 42 kilos, a hat, asks Colette don't suffer of indigestion while they are reading? What a wonderful elegant table the one Colette imagines for a sophisticated, elegant evening where every detail are perfects. Writing about La Galerie Lafayette. Colette notices a diversified exposition where women resuscitated one of the most characteristic silhuettes like high breasts, long legs, a body freedom also expression of the fruits of love; women with the desire of    following their destiny.


Colette presents often the idea of a lady in love not just with elegance but also with the pleasures of the existence, like also some good glasses of wine, some warm beverages enriched with cinnamon. 


Colette was also the testimonial of Lucky Strikes! a brand of cigarettes!


Beautiful and inspiring book!


I thank L'Editions de l'Herne for the physical copy of the book.


Anna Maria Polidori 





 


lunedì, gennaio 11, 2021

The Lives of Amish Women by Karen M.Johnson-Weiner

 The Lives of Amish Women


by Karen M.Johnson-Weiner is a new book published by Johns Hopkins University Press and explores the condition of Amish women, what they do, which role they play in their communities.


I don't know you, but a village of Amish to my point of view is a relaxing and dreaming place. 


Most of these communities, in fact, the most conservatives ones, as you will see other ones are open to modern items and facilies, are still living as in the pre-industrial era, so without electricity, washing machine, iron, and all the modern facilities that we discover everyday. They don't use tractors for working in the fields, they use carriots for going everywhere.


Yes: it is true. 


Amish haven't never accepted modernity in large part but they continue to be great farmers, with an existence much more lazy and less frenetic than the one of the outside world.


The story of Amish people is absolutely stunning. The birth of this "movement" when there was the scission of Martin Luther, from the catholic church so in 1520 circa, and then an elaboration of what they wanted to become. Women were persecuted because of their strong role in the society and because they were not passive but active people in grade to make the difference.


If emigration in the USA under many ways, changed the cards on the table, Amish tried to find, in particular the most conservative ones, places where to stay and where to continue to be who they were in the Old World. So, great and open lands where they could cultivate, growing a functional and beautiful farm. 


Women in the social tissue of American Amish is necessary and taken in great consideration. 

In general a woman in a family is completely responsible of the house. If the man is under many ways a little patriarch, the woman is devoted to the rest of all the activities at home.


A big role is played by couples and children. A new married couple means to the Amish community new members soon. Children are the new people of the community and their education becomes, because of this reason, incredibly important. Treasure of the community, and in particular of their family, their parents will grow them with responsibility. Children must observe what their parent say to them. Creating obedient children means also not breaking rules or create disorder in the family.


In general Amish prefer to giving birth at home avoiding the hospitals, because home means from the beginning community and a social tissue known where the newly baby can be immediately accepted and cuddle; the hospital can be read as a cold place.

Of course it is not said: there are also communities that prefer the hospital at the home for that important moment.


The newborn baby is immediately active part of the Amish community. After several weeks he will be brought at church; he will sleep in the bed of his parents, and during the day he will stay in the kitchen, sleeping, while the rest of the family talks; what their parents and the community will tend to do is to create a new great member of the Amish community; toddlers are more mature than non-amish children and they are in grade thanks to their maturity of taking care of other people in need if their parents absents. 


Girls once in the puberty starts to wear adult clothes, and they help their parents during the summer-time, accepting work during other periods of the years also thanks to other families.


Menstruation will create a differentiation of works, and during the monthly period girls are treated with respect and most of the heaviest works will be limited at lightest one.


School: children attends Amish schools where in general there is an unmarried girl teaching lessons while fathers repairs the school when necessary; more opened Amish communities choose public schools, where Amish children attends also all that technological lessons and labs avoided by the Amish philosophy of life.


In general schools in an Amish reality is long till at the eighth grade.


Once this moment is over, the Amish teenagers will start to be introduced at the heaviest chores of the house, helping neighbors but also watching and learning from the oldest members of the community.

Of course young boys will help in the farm, while for the girl is a story of cooking,cleaning, childcare, sewing.


A teenager can take care of many little siblings with normality while her parents are away.

More or less at 18-20, young boys and girls decide to be baptized. It's an important moment in their existence and the affirmation of their being Amish.


It's a tragedy when, at the opposite, an Amish boy decides to leave the community: in general males are more numerous because more free than not girls. Maybe because the mantra is the one of honoring parents; maybe because the structure is pretty closed, no one would want to lose pieces; so this terrible moment is lived like a shame and a violation of the commandment.

In these cases there are several institution put under the lenses of the community: what was wrong? Where the community or the family committed errors? 


A structure like the Amish one bless marriages, although for certain people too particular and different from the Amish ideas will be more difficult if not impossible to settle down with someone of the same community. Sometimes people who will become couple are distant relatives. 

In Amishs courtship a friend is the mediator between the boy who would want to go out with the girl taken in consideration, and the same girl.

Amish girls must have clear ide about who they want to date, because probably that one will become their husband.

There is maximun secrecy in this phase; no one tell to other memembers of the family that it is dating another person; there are anyway amish communities admitting bed courtship. The couple must arrive home when the family is to bed and the boy must leave the home before that the rest of the girls' family is awaken.


Once the story is mature enough there are the wedding publications. All the community in that moment know that soon there will be a newly wed couple.

Times are changed and in general weddings are more big than in the past in these communities; it is indispensible so a variation of menus, differentiated and more modern in comparison to the one of the past; various cooks will prepare the luncheon, with the help of children.


As you will see an important moment for Amish women is church. A church service can lasts three-four hours and everyone including children must stay there. At the end there is a communal meals.


Butchering is a great activity celebrated during the winter-season; killing pigs and cow is an event of big proportion for the work that creates and at the same time for the good meat donated by the animals; in the good seasons women work for the creation of delicious fruit sauces and in fall for potato chips. 


Funerals are another aspect of Amish life. When a member of the community dies, in particular if elderly, a lot of people will participate; if it's a newborn baby or a toddler, not too many; just the family.

At the home of the deceased, people will love to see the dead one, talking of the old times, remembering the man or woman passed away; in some community the body is never left alone; during the funeral there are no singing; children participate to the funeral from the beginning to the end in the cemetery.


In the education of children there is the good habit for reading. If books are in a house they must be read by everyone and Amish parents and communities keep a special eyes at all the books introduced in a house, because that books will be read by all the family.

But...Which are the most beloved authors of Amish communities?

Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) but also Little House in the Prairie, when they also discovered this author.


There is also to say that Amish Literature so tales, novels, short stories, cookbooks inspired by Amish real life have a big success in the USA and sometimes they become real bestsellers.

One the the first and most successful writer is Wanda Brunstetter. I personally read and reviewed some of her books and they are simply enchanting; books, cookbooks also, created for warming the hearts of readers. I personally can tell you that these books relaxes me a lot and let me think at a simple world still plenty of values.


The book takes also in considerations magazines like Keepers at Home and Little Red Hen News. The first one is a magazine for all that women who wants to read pieces about motherhood, or ladies sometimes discomforted because they don't see God close to them; the second magazine is for hardworking ladies, and it is very conservative.


More to discover in a book that will let you breath the real atmosphere of an Amish Community and the daily life of Amish women and their realization; this book is the best evasion that you can ask for, from the real world.


Highly recommended!


I thank Johns Hopkins University Press for the physical copy of the book.


Anna Maria Polidori 




 




sabato, gennaio 09, 2021

Kokoschka The Ultimate Modernist by Rudiger Gorner,

 Kokoschka


The Ultimate Modernist by Rudiger Gorner, published by Haus Publishing, offers to the readers an important point of view regarding the brilliant, eccentric character that Oskar Kokoschka was. 


The author remembers that once he fell in love for his paintings but that later collected also press cuttings: it was true that Gorner remained bewitched by the extraordinary artist when at the Tate Gallery of New York was organized in 1986 an art exhibit of the artist. 


You must know that before to being the biographer of Kokoschka, Gorner wrote several other biographies, including the ones of Rilke and Trakl meeting in many ways Kokoschka in his writings. 


But who was mainly this genius? 

At first we can classify him as the biggest portraitist of the XX century. 

His paintings can be compared at Freud's couch, writes Gorner. 


Reading this book you'll understand that it is true. Kokoschka donated all himself because he was pervaded by strong feelings and sentiments and his pulsions, his romanticism, his visions of the existence was never connected just with the mere reality but with the big or little dramas of the moment.


Every experiences he lived, let's talk now of his experience as soldier during the First World War had a strong and intense internal resonance. 

Kokoschka was injured two times and once to the head; he returned home, but then he desired to return to fight in the battlefields; in the letters it is remarked this oscillation of thoughts; it depended maybe by the person he had in front of him,   the  blank page of a letter for his mother, or just the thoughts of the moment.


He was an artist of his time, Espressionist and Modernist, and lived all the big contradictions of a world in mutation. He was so original that once Einstein defined him: "A complicated talent." 


He was a genius. He could pass in fact through several mediums; writings, with his plays and essays, poems, but also paintings, and portraits who paid his bills when very young or that starved him a lot when people didn't like the way he had portrayed them and didn't want that paintings anymore without, of course, paying and leaving the painter penniless.


The existence of Kokoschka hasn't always been successful.

But... He loved to express himself giving with all his soul the reflection of his existence. He was "en route" as maybe was Rilke under other aspects, for all his existence. Kokoschka lived in many cities, for the most diversified reasons, but every city he lived in, his encounters, the atmosphere discovered in that environments created differentiations, new discoveries and a multiformity of richness that at least, paid a lot.


His last name: you will be curious of it: it means the cuckoo. He was born in 1886 in Pochlarn on the south bank of the Danube. 

Although he stayed there just a year he will idealized, as later he did with all the women of his existence, his birthplace. His father was from Prague where later Oskar will return several times for various years during his existence. His father was a travelling clock salesman for a local jewellery. 


When the family moved in Vienna where there were more opportunities of work there was a tragedy in the Kokoschka existence because the biggest brother of Oskar, died. 

Anyway the little Oskar loved the new atmosphere of Vienna. He was lucky enough of growing in a fertile environment meeting two teachers who believed in him and his biggest capacities. 

Kokoschka understood that years also the Japanese art of woodcutting, bewitched by this art. 


Although Vienna had given to him a lot later he didn't find anymore a good humus and decided to change air going to Berlin. Berlin meant to him a frenetic city and the possibility of enlarge the requests for portraits and new, important, collaborations. 


Although he later decided to return to Vienna, Berlin remains to him the best synthesis of his learning.


Speaking about his love, a big one was for Lilith. No one knew if Kokoschka was attracted by her or her Madonna-like face, or her skirt, or the red colors. It was an abrupt end; also pretty nasty, because  someone didn't speak too well of the genial Kokoschka at Lilith. The girl so, preferred to move on marrying someone else.


Alma Mahler will be his biggest love during the young adult existence. He will settle down seriously only in his maturity. Alma Mahler represented after Lilith the answers to all his desires. He imagined her as a an ideal feminine model. 

Lost for her, he inundated her of long and intense love-letters, poems, absolutely beautiful and sophisticated.


He wanted to elevate her relationship with Alma into the sacred . This love as writes the author was "about life and death". Alma was never in love with anyone, there is to precise it, so substantially she didn't never fall in love for Oskar, but of course she was intruigued by his court and under many ways, she appreciated him. 

A moon couple, Alma hided to everyone in Vienna her relationship with him;  they spent beautiful moments in Italy.

It was another tribulated relationship that ended leaving masterpieces in paintings like The Bride of the Wind, great homage to Alma. 


During the following years Oskar travelled a lot, and when he returned home in Vienna, he had again to leave the city because of an escalation of German power and the annexion of the city; he went to Prague but then it was necessary to leave Prague  we are in 1938 because of the same problems experienced in Vienna; from Prague he had to decide where to go. 

He didn't trust France, and Switzerland kept him perplexed. At the end he picked up London. 


In these years Kokoschka speaks of the absurd logic of inhumanity of the politic of power.


It wasn't a joke at first living in London; but then he was involved in various activities and created the painting dedicated to Prague called Nostalgia.


He preferred to travel when in UK for discovering Scotland and Cornwall, marrying also her latest love Olga Palkovskà on may 15th 1941. In the while Oskar continued his activity as activist. Not only: he was obsessed by the conditions lived by many children; it's important "to create a better world for children" wrote in a letter.


After the war in 1953 Oskar and his wife will start to live in Switzerland. He loved to be surrounded by creatives like musicians and in his house in Villeneuve, called Villa Delphin loved to organize private concerts.Kokoschka appreciated since his youth musicians and opera and he was a fanatic of Wagner and other important composers and sometimes  they influenced his paintings. 

Oskar's ideas about main thematics once the war over was a bit contradictory: a thematic he loved to spread was the sexualisation of culture seen negatively when some of his paintings demostrated erotic stimulation.


The last World War Conflict once over left of course many big fears: the end of the world with a third world war, Holocaust meant a wound that could not be healed; we can only remember and remember thanks to memory and direct witnesses. What happened in the mind of the creative? This strong impact meant a new research: faces but also mythological world. 

What motivated Oskar was a perception: the one that values were gone like also traditions. 


Kokoschka said once that he had four infatuations: "with people, with the work, with composition, with life." He thought at the option of the suicide but these four infatuations helped him to resist at that thoughts. 


Kokoschka decided to open at the Salzburg summer academy a "School of Seeing" a center for all the senses.

He was helped in this sense by Friederich Welz, inspirator and secretary of the academy.

Yes, this man Welz was part of the Nazi system during the war. It is still unclear if Oskar knew it or just removed these informations and accepted the new state of things.

We knew that there was a previous meetings between the two in 1934 because of an art gallery exhibit.


If Oskar didn't mind, surely Salzburg didn't want to have anything to do with this heavy past background. In a way or in another it was given the permissiona at the genius of organizing courses during the summer-time. The Committe of the Salzburg Summer Academy wanted to give their final words regarding teachers; Kokoschka as well so there were frequent frictions.

This school precised Oskar was indispensible because of the fruits producted by Nazists. So the motto of the school could be: OPEN YOUR OWN EYES!!!


In a letter he wrote: "Learning Seeing  and Insight was always at the beginning. All controversy, discord, all fracturing, in the history of Europe came about when they came with theories, not wishing to see what is there under the sun, which is the same regardless of its rising in the East and setting in the West."

Kokoschka classified him as a "seer" in an interview released in Austria once the second world war was over.

The world is seen as a sort of "a dirty nebula in the universe;" after two world wars, a pandemic flu, the spanish one  with 100 million lost souls.


Which is the legacy left by Kokoscjka who disappeared in 1980?


He is with his art everywhere: Venice, Boston, London, Vienna. Very loved and estimated in Italy he is studied in particular in Florence, Venice, and Rome.


Kokoschka is the alternative Picasso. He considered the spanish painter pretty superficial.  Picasso in first person tried thanks to a common mutual friend of sending him a postcard with a dove for making peace; Oskar didn't change his mind: in the while new generations are following his steps and what he has left behind.


I found this biography articulated, magnificient, beautiful and captivating. 

You must read it! You'll love it.


I thank Haus Paublishing for the physical copy of the book.


Anna Maria Polidori 











lunedì, gennaio 04, 2021

Elle Venait de Marioupol written by Natascha Wodin

 It's important, where not indispensible to understand our origins, maybe just for going on in peace in this world.


I felt a strong attraction for this book, Elle Venait de Marioupol written by


Natascha Wodin, published by Métailié. 


That sweet and melancholic picture in the cover intrigued me a lot. There were the premises for a beautiful story. And I was right. This one is a genealogical research, started by Natascha, after years and years of temptatives without any kind of results and successes about the past of her mother. 


The net sometimes does miracles and one day Wodin discovered where her mother was born in. She didn't know where her mother was from, but the search engine "told" her that her mother was born in Marioupol, Ukraine. 


Wodin wouldn't never ever believed it. Wodin was born in Germany, in fact, and she currently lives in Berlin: her mother was deported for working in camps. Stories of Jewish, deported from their countries for concentration camps are known and largely treated; there are also other people as write Wodin who were constricted at abandoning their lands for that horrible camps. Her mother is one of these cases.


Attracted by an endless research, she discovers that Mariopoul was a wonderful place where living in; after all weather was good, seasons not too rigid and when her mother, Eugenia, Iakovlena Ivachtchenko lived there, the place was a fertile one where afforded people from all over the world. There were many jews, but also folk from the rest of Europe. There was expansionism, but also poverty and various temible infections. 


With the help of several important and crucial connections, Wodin also discovers who the father of her mother was: a rich italian merchant: he had had six children! So, Wodin understands immediately that the family is potentially very large, searching for other connections! 


She will discover also that one of her ancestrors was a famous relative, a singer of opera pretty appreciated and once deported in Siberia.


In their family unfortunately several cases of suicides funested the harmony of the entire family; all of them, maybe caused by a genethical illness, but, as also remarks the author, it was probable, also because of the big depression that Communism brought with it; many cases of suicides were registered during the Communism because, simply, it was impossible to develop any talent. Her mother killed herself, but also other members, all women! of their family; in a case the two girls decided to take poison the same day and hour, but then, one killed herself, the second one preferred to give another chance at the existence, living with the remorse of what planned with her relative.


Natascha will reconnect in this book her personal life-story, at first she writes that she had just three pictures of her mother and few other objects; she lived in an hangar the first years of her existences, with changes of school, sad stories of abuses, and she will also tell us the straining moment of the disappearance, forever, of her mother. A mother loved, appreciated. The book is written with splendid words, in grade of capturing the imagination of readers; I think at the description of places, photographs; Wodin is a real artist of the words and she offers to the reader very detailed description so that you are there, imagining protagonists town, cities.

Precious! You have the sensation that to her every person, every place, is a great discovery treated with respect, admiration and surprise.


Highly recommended.


Merci beacoup Editions Métailié pour le livre.


Anna Maria Polidori 





domenica, gennaio 03, 2021

Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles The Power of the Reader's Mind Over a Universe of Death by Harold Bloom

 Harold Bloom has been one of the most beloved literary critic, essayist, of our age. 

In this final book Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles The Power of the Reader's Mind Over a Universe of Death published by Yale Press


and completed some days before his departure in 2019, Bloom leaves a message for every reader: read! And keep alive the power of deep reading that in our society is disappearing.


No one of the old and loved poets taken in consideration by the writer, could prolong his existence, admits Bloom, but reading is researching, reading means new discoveries everyday and when you arrive at 90 years and you have spent your entire life or the most of it, and maybe you don't sleep well at night, at dawn, "read something that matters as soon as you can."

But read. Bloom affirms that "The great poems, plays, novels, and stories teach us how to go on living, even when submerged under forty fathoms of bother and distress."


A man he admired a lot in grade of devouring wagons of books as did with meat was Samuel Johnson and thinking at Johnson Bloom confesses that everytime he receives a book he devours it instantly if he can; when he was little, confesses, he didn't have a lot of books and he couldn't buy them; now he is "fighting" with his wife because everday receives new books and their house is overwhelmed.


I love this passage: "What you read and how deeply read matters almost as much as how you love, work, exercise, vote, practice charity, strive for social justice, cultivate kindness and courtesy and workship if you are capable of worship. The mind is an activity and will decay into dark inertia if not sustained by the sustenance of reading."


Scared of death? Well  Epicurus once wrote these words "...Death is nothing to us, since as long as we exist, death is not with us; but when death comes, then we do not exist."


Appreciating poems is important: Emersone wrote once in The Poet that "The Poet are thus liberating gods." They are free and they make free.


Bloom loved to reread or recite Shakespeare day and night. "He gives me voices lost and found. His generous abundance is the perpetual harvest of voice."


While literal immortality appears to Bloom like a horror, he writes that he was born as an ortodox Jewish and so there weren't perspectives of immortality or resurrection. One day one of his cardiologists told him that his brain "...Could live on and keeps it's memory after I have gone into the Great Perhaps. I gently said him: no thanks."


At 90, attracted more powerfully than before by Homer and Shakespeare because free, they can't keep him completely free.


He is a poet I personally love a lot because the poet of the optimism: Walt Whitman. "I never stop learning from Whitman" confesses Bloom, remarking the beauty of the poem written by Whitman for the assassination of Linclon, in which lilacs play the gentle role of the situation. Ageing, meant to Bloom starting the appreciation of flowers, in particular roses; but there was that gentle bush of lilac in the house of the neighbor that sometimes moved his soul much more.


An essay this one that will explore Whitman but also Homer and Shakespeare, Milton and William Blake, Wordsworth, Shelly, Gordon and Lord Byron, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Yeats and D.H.Lawrence, Hart Crande, Robert Browning, ending with Dante 


An important  book for all the passionate of poets, poems and the meaning of life, and our existence passing through creative minds of all ages whispering to us their messages of hope  love, and friendship.


Highly recommended.


I thank Yale University Press for the physical copy of the book.


Anna Maria Polidori 




Narciso La Passione dello Sguardo by Sonia Macrì

Narciso La Passione dello Sguardo by Sonia Macrì


reports, thanks to the words of writers and poets like Ovid, Filostrato, La Fontaine, Val[ry, Rilke, Williams, Garcìa Lorca, Borges, Ritsos,Pasolini, Walcott, one of the most felt and intense myths of the antichity: the one of Narciso. The story was this one: Narciso once in a river looked at the imagine reflected in the water, falling in love for it and after that, dying because of it. One day, in fact while looking at the reflection of his face on the river fell in the water and lost his existence.


Paradoxically in the antichity a lot of people described  "impossible" love, represented, when the object of desire not close to them with statues, paintings, writings in grade to keep alive the memory of the lost person for the most diversified reasons. I remember that I read in London by Peter Ackroyd of a person who lost both his wives keeping their bodies, I guess and hope, embalmed, in his house.

An eccentric way for not losing our dear loved ones.


There are, in these stories a constant: all these people love other ones; not themselves. They are projected emotionally outside, although for a reason or another they can't have close to them the loved one and so they recreate "virtually" (we discover that virtuality after all is pretty old) the girlfriend of their dreams.


The myth of Narciso under many ways is completely different, because in this case there is not love for another human being; all the opposite. There is a big, immense love for himself or, where not recognized that the imagine reflected represents the same self, for what seen in the surface of a river or in a mirror, ignoring that the face the same one of the person who is looking in the surface of the river. An impossible, dangerous love.


Mirror...Umberto Eco wrote once that he could have looked per hours in the mirror, but if he would have sent that mirror as a gift to someone else for let them see himself, the mirror would have reflected just the receiver of the gift.


Mirrors are seen like doors and reflections of what has been or will be. 

Spells are possible for seeing imagines in a mirror. 


Do you remember in Harry Potter the mirror where Harry could see reflected the old imagines of his parents, becoming bewitched by that old imagines? They were his parents, he didn't know them and at the same time he loved them so badly.

He would have risked of losing his mind if Doumbledor wouldn't have removed the mirror somewhere else.


Good: mirrors can also be doors for discovering the end of a person or his most remote past. 

A mirror is magical, but some people repeat that if you look too much at yourself in a mirror, you can risk to lose your own identity not knowing anymore who you are.


Back to Narciso...There are several stories of the unlucky, after all, guy.


The first one the most known; Narciso falls in love for his imagine, a reflection of a beautiful wonderful person he searches compulsively and then one day he falls into the river, dying. He didn't know how to swim. Unlucky boy.


There is a second one where a girl falls in love for Narciso, but Narciso loves just himself, presenting to that girl a knife, with which she will lose the existence killing herself. Now, this new element, pretty intriguing will devastate Narciso, because, after all, he didn't want that the girl would have dead because of him. The end is the same one.

In other writings it is reported that also in the other world, Narciso continued to look at his face in the river; a river this time with horrible, dirty waters; but, maybe because the character after all was not so negative, but made a certain tenderness, he returned to the Earth under the shapes of narcissus, a beloved spring flower. 

What "complicate" the story of Narciso is his behavior: he is in love with himself and so he won't never love another person. His desire is not to see another person reflected in the water, but just his imagine and thanks to that one he falls in love for himself. Can a person love and desire just himself? Of course no. It would be a sick element; the character of a dual person bring at severe psychiatric illnesses.


In our times a Narciso is commonly defined as someone all taken by himself and not taking in consideration other people. He is just the most wonderful person on Earth and all the rest of people can't be taken in consideration but must be ignored by someone stunning as he is.


Enjoy this book! It's wonderful, fresh and absolutely interesting!


The final part is dedicated to the various writers and poets, mentioned before.


Highly recommended.


I thank Marsilio for the physical copy of the book.


Anna Maria Polidori