giovedì, gennaio 16, 2020

Jacques Schiffrin A Publisher in Exile, from Pléiade to Pantheon by Amos Reichman Foreword by Robert O.Paxton Translated by Sandra Smith

Jacques Schiffrin A
Publisher in Exile, from Pléiade to Pantheon by Amos Reichman Foreword by Robert O.Paxton Translated by Sandra Smith is a new captivating  biography published by Columbia University Press. Complex character, pretty melanchonic, Jacques Schiffrin spent most of his time in exile in various part of the worlds. 
Born in Russia in a little locality called Baku, his father was in the business of oil and so the family lived in the abundace and richness. He left Russia for political reasons, affording to Paris in the early 1900s. Intellectual fertile activity, Schiffrin invented les Editions de la Pleiade, for letting know to french people Russian Literature and extending it to the rest of best writers and literature presents in the market. Edgar Allen Poe was close to Baudelaire. Ten volumes were published  between 1931 and 1932. Considering the big success of these series (with peculiar characteristics, starting from the pages) it was necessary implementing the financial aspect of the business and it's because of it that Schiffrin met along his way Gaston Gallimard. 

Everything happened for this publisher in 1911 when with two other friends, Gidé and Schlumberger created the Nouvelle Revue Francaise tranformed after the first world war in Librairie Gallimard. Soon the motto of Gallimard became "I am french literature."

In 1933 Gallimard bought the catalog of the Bibliotheque de la Pleiade. They were fertile and happy years these ones for Schiffrin and Gallimard. They were very good friends, but as always, war put again a wall between the two: Schiffrin was a jew and so Gallimard fired him from the position of editor of La Pleiade.

Sadness and unhappiness mounted immensely in a character like the one of Schiffrin pretty melancholic, like also the idea of going away possibly in the USA for building in NYC a new existence.

The trip was pretty long and tribulated with a long stop in North Africa; the arrival and accomodations when in NYC, although in beautiful places and corners of the city didn't give back to the publisher any joy. New York was so different from Paris.

Not working at first, he insisted for being paid by Gallimard. 
Later Schiffrin found a first job but the owner of that reality substantially did everything alone. 

Schiffrin at the same time didn't sound interested in re-starting to follow french publishers located in NYC. He wanted something else and he found this something else thanks to Kurt Wollf, german and like him Jewish, emigrated because constricted to leaving, in the USA. Creator of the Pantheon the two will start a long and profound collaboration although Schiffrin who, now, should have been happy because there was again a reality where he could express himself felt always melancholy for Paris and Europe. 

Unfortunately when he was a soldier for France in his youthness, he fell sick with an important chronical ill. 
It was an experience, this one of being a soldier and serving France lived at first with enthusiasm; Schiffrin thought that spending time with "little men" as Schiffrin considered the other soldiers could pay. But it was a delusion as well. 

This nasty illness at the lungs would have later dictated the final choices of his existence.

Schiffrin tried also to seeing if it was possible an importation and collaboration with Gallimard regarding Pleiade, but the condition of the contract, as you will read were not at all good, so Schiffrin continued to asking money at Gallimard, as did later once dead his father, André Schiffrin, his son.

Beautiful book written with love and dedication, pretty warm, for everyone.

Highly recommended.

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

Anna Maria Polidori 

mercoledì, gennaio 15, 2020

Dans La Bibliothèque des Nòs Présidents Ce qu'ils lisent et rilisent sous la direction d'Etienne de Montety

Dans La Bibliothèque des Nòs Présidents Ce qu'ils lisent et rilisent sous la direction d'Etienne de Montety is a beautiful and inspiring book by Editions Tallandier. Why reading a book about the french Presidents and what they love to reading? 

For various reasons. Once an ex neighbor of us, now living close to Paris from decades said me that once he had worked, decades ago, in the library of a beloved french President for a restoration; just last year I watched on TV an interview with Emmanuell Macron and I found it amazing. Although young he is a real man of culture, and he sounded different from all the rest of politicians at the moment in Europe and other countries; he said in a portion of the interview in the section dedicated to him "Nous sommes un peuple littéraire et les Françaises et les Français, sourdement, attendent de leur président qu’il soit littéraire."  "We are a literary country and french women and french men wait for a president with high notion of literature."
Plus: it's always wonderful discovering other people's favorite books. It says a lot of their interior and exterior world; least but not last a book like this one is precious because will give a lot of good book suggestions to its readers.

The truth is that apart being Presidents, french Presidents are people in love for reading; and all of them are characterized by special tastes.

Adolph Thierswas  the first one posing close to a book.
Same did later de Gaulle; he loved to posing close to ancient books. 
There is also to say that the patrimony of France in terms of literature is for sure great. De Montety in the foreword adds that a president surrounded by books represents the entire French and its literary patrimony. 

De Gaulle was a general and his library is in a lovely countryside a bit distant from Paris. 
Books that marked his existence were special ones. Six years in exile, he was a voracious readers of history books, but also literature, art, travels and geography. 
De Gaulle started to develop with the time a technique in grade of let him read a book pretty quickly. He also had many memoirs of Richelieu, Poincaré, Auriol, Herriot, Eisenhower, Patton, Kennedy, Truman, Churchill, Spears, Littleton, Adenauer, but also books by André Gide.

Georges Pompidou developed pretty soon a voracious enthusiasm for reading. Verne, Dumas, Balzac, Proust, Stendhal but also greek and latin authors, poets, foreign literature. He read what he could find close to him. Victor Hugo but also Verlaine considered tremendously mysterious but also the poet of melancholy and regret. And then Pascal, Molière, Racine, Boileau, Bossuet, Diderot, Montesquieu; he also had the original edition of La Principesse de Clèves by Mme de Lafayette, dated 1678. He loved André Gide, Sartre, and many more.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing is a spiritual person. You will discover that he is in love for authors like Tolstoi for the profoundity of the knowledge of the human soul, but also, thanks to a trip de Gaulle asked him of attending in China of Confucious's books and quotes. Substantially he reads these quotes everyday and he says he is attracted by the model of man portrayed by Confucius, because that man is a good man, a gentleman, someone interested in the problems of others. In love also for an author like Karen Blixen, Out of Africa, his final thoughts are for Europe. To the ex President, Europe should present to everyone life and work conditions satisfying, ending with these considerations: if Europe will be a hospitable continent, maintaining its cultural and spiritual roots, at the origin of its existence, it will become a continent different from all the other ones, with a touch of color and light that will become always more important in a Confucian Sky!

Francois Mitterand was a great book-lover. He could not live without books and he brought books with him wherever he went. He venerated Hugo and in particular Lamartine. He was in love for history and he appreciated Vladimir Jankélévitch, Daniel Cordier, David Rousset, Jean-Marcel Jeanneney,  William Styron, Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar. Thinker like Bergson, Descartes were other favorite readings. His ideas, once he left the Presidency was to writing a book about Laurent de Médicis but he did not find the time.

You will discover the profound and immense love of Jacques Chirac for poetry, in particular, Japanese, chinese ones. He loved a special adoration for Philippe Jaccottet and his À la Lumière d’Hiver. Walt Whitman, adorable optimistic poet, was another favorite author of Chirac. Chirac loved the ethnic, and the exotic, and all that authors in grade of whispering him of distant places, other cultures, different sounds, light, tastes, colors. 

Nicolas Sarkozy appreciates Flaubert, Balzac and he has an entire collection of La Pleiade.La Pleiade has a fascinating history; a project started in the early 1900s by Jacques Schiffrin and supported by Editions Gallimard. 

Francois Hollande's reading are impregnated of freedom and rights. He has been touched by a book Les Lettres à Anne by Francoise Mitterand and then Victor Hugo and Zweig for understanding with this last author how the anti-semitism started to become seriously dangerous in Europe.

Emmanuell Macron read from his childhood. Theater in particular, once a teenager: Racine, Molière, Musset, Hugo. He also confesses he completed his literary formation thanks to the library of his father. a more intellectual one with books of philosophy, sociology, but also contemporary literature. Garcia Marquez marked Macron, like also Foucault, Derrida, Proust and Celine. Macron tells during the interview that he loves to keep two editions of the various books he reads; one more elegant and another one more informal for experiencing a different  freedom. Reading is the best way, confess the President for living some moments of abstraction from the daily routine. 

The authors of the various sections: Charles de Gaulle Frédérique Neau-Dufour, Georges Pompidou
Éric Roussel, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing Charles Jaigu, François Mitterrand Laure Adler, Jacques Chirac Christine Albanel, Nicolas Sarkozy Camille Pascal, François Hollande Cécile Amar, Emmanuel Macron Étienne de Montety. 

Highly recommended.

I thank Editions Tallandier for the copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 

venerdì, gennaio 10, 2020

Grand Hotel Scalfari Confessioni Libertine su un Secolo di Carta by Alberto Gnoli and Francesco Merlo

Grand Hotel Scalfari Confessioni Libertine su un Secolo di
Carta by Alberto Gnoli and Francesco Merlo is the most amazing book I read on journalism in Italy since now.

Eugenio Scalfari has been for several decades the editor of Repubblica, one of the most important italian newsmagazines. His personal history, considering that now he is 95 years is told in first person so preciously that I am more than sure you will remain enchanted by it.

An only child, in a family devastated by a father intrigued by losing his time and money playing too much, and later winning his demons when he will start a prestigious work at the Casino of Sanremo, Liguria, Scalfari tells with freedom that years, his friendship with Italo Calvino, in the same high school. Calvino: someone who decided to live in a world populated by fantasy and fairy-tales more than staying in a reality of aboundance, as remembers Scalfari was the after-war in Italy. 

Although at first religious, he simply lost his perception about God and the idea of His existence growing up; famous was the correspondence exchanged with Pope Francis and the friendship born between these two men (other two in grade of being friends although their ideal differents were our President Sandro Pertini and Pope Johannes Paulus II).

Scalfari remembers at long his friendship with Italo Calvino and with many more collaborators as Citati was, for and of Repubblica. You'll love the stories of these friendships.
Intellectuals he desired to have close to him when at Repubblica because they made the difference, because, also if sometimes their political ideas were not the same ones of Scalfari, he simply appreciated their minds.

Politically Scalfari has been a man of the right and later of the left. During the fascism he was a balilla. Later he became a man of left. 
Surrounded by intellectuals, passion for writing and reading became soon a work for Eugenio Scalfari. He wrote for magazines of right as well; after all they paid good money and it was important.

What maybe shocked me positively, being a reporter, has been this: once in Repubblica Eugenio Scalfari worked for keeping happy also the rest of his journalists. Who worked for him had to be happy. And to me this passage of the book has been shocking, because I haven't never thought that an editor wants the happiness and joy of his journalists. Then I imagined the joy and contentment of that staff; when in a workplace there is harmony and a happy atmosphere, there is substantially everything.

Scalfari created with the time, with great collaborators, an idea of innovative journalism; left was plenty of enthusiasm and potentialities, but also researched; there wasn't a section of sport, and when created, sport was not treated as commonly is in most newsmagazines, but trying to research also in this sector of the existence, an intellectual key for reading the reality.

His friendship with Indro Montanelli, but also his devotion for D'Annunzio, a cult he cultivated thanks to the friendship of the poet with his father will be important pages.

At the end a strong analysis of what it is journalism now.

Scalfari starts from the past, and when Repubblica became the first italian newsmagazine, followed by Il Corriere della Sera. The advent of the internet has put the sector in a serious, absolutely dolent turnmoil, because what it was true before, with the advent of the net, it wasn't anymore true. People, no, better, readers, became confused by the news they could read thanks to the net, and at the moment the situation of newsmagazine is not at all cheerful. Million of copies of newsmagazines were sold just few years ago in one day, but these numbers are just memories. 

Scalfari thinks that books and newsmagazines, the first ones the only ones not killed by the internet, won't die. He adds more: that now we are all living in a moment of serious decadentism; and decadentism doesn't never bring good things. Sure: there will be a new re-birth because soon or later people won't accept anymore this situation of mediocrity.

The informations given in the newsmagazines can't be anymore the old one of the past; if there is an interesting news, given by the net, people are informed. What a good editor and his staff should do, affirms Scalfari is to "open" the news, for finding as many elements of interest as possible for the readers.

"Where once there was the power of journalism with its greatness and miseries, now I see many dishoriented gangs" adds Scalfari.
It's sadly true.

Beautiful, beautiful book, a biography and a spiritual testament of a man who has always made great journalism, and that can give directions for the future to come.
Written with extreme clarity, class, style.

Highly recommended!

I thank Marsilio for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori

giovedì, gennaio 09, 2020

The Paris Effect by K. S. Burns

It's a very complicated story this one by K.S.Burns, The Paris Effect
. It's a sort of trip not just in a city like Paris, with pretty heavy misadventures. This book is also a story of loss, of searching for a new identity, when, after all the identity is lost also during a trip that should reveal the best of ourselves; in this case, you will see, a lot of confusion and additional messes.
It's a story that spaces in the past, with numerous flashbacks.
There are these two friends, Amy and Kat; more than friends, telling to you the truth, but then Amy married William, upsetting Kat a lot. 
The two girlfriends had an idea, a Plan: to travelling once two capitals, but then Kat falls sick with a bad breast cancer and she died leaving Amy devastated. Amy is not in grade of finding answer in her present, with her husband, her work; she prefers to escape away travel alone, for finding some answer, and her choice is Paris. Sometimes it happens. We would want to be in the other part of the world for escaping sufferances. It's human and understandable. But there is nothing of seriously romantic, or nice in this trip, because pretty soon and alone she will meet a weird creature, Margaret who will manipulate her all the time, who will drug her for keeping her close to her. 
Misadventures will be many; Margaret will also avoid of telling her that William, Amy's husband desperately searched for her in Paris, from Phenix, Arizona. Once returned home well, William will be implacable.

Pity that there hasn't been a good end, in an existence, the one fo Amy, pretty confused. Her confusion became her reason of life.

Highly recommended.

I thank the author for this ebook.

Anna Maria Polidori 

La furia della Marea La saga di Poldark by Winston Graham

Poldark is a long saga started by the beloved author Wiston
Graham, who devoted most of his life at these characters ad their fascinating histories.Started on 1945  it was completed on 2002. After decades of interruptions, the latest book of the first session appeared on 1953, the idea of continuing the saga on 1973.
These first set of books portray the  XVIII century, the XIX the second part.Everything starts with Ross Poldark. He fought during the Independence War in the US and once returned he discovered that his belle has decided of marrying one of his cousin, thinking that he was not anymore alive. This fact is devastating and Ross re-starts a new beginning marrying at the end a servant.In this fifth book La Furia della Marea published by Marsilio. Ross continues to experincing relationship problems, although at the same time he become a member of the Parliament. He would want with all himself to re-start from the beginning with his wife, but a playboy will try to steal the heart of Ross's wife. Poldark in this case won't forgive him at all!
But also Elizabeth the first love of Ross is tormented. She thinks that his son is the fruit of her clandestine relationship with Ross.
Story is more complicated with many other characters involved in betrayels, sufferances.
If you are a romantic spirit this book is for you. If you dream of a past time, of past centuries, of chivalry and a different approach to problems this reading is perfect.

Highly recommended.

I thank Marsilio for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 

sabato, gennaio 04, 2020

Firmino by Sam Savage

Firmino by Sam Savage
is a stunning book to my point of view and can be read at different levels. I was re-ordering some books when I met Firmino. My bookclub, Club per Voi, presented me this book with other ones that I bought, many years ago. 
I remembered someone called Firmino asked me the friendship on FB. For the rest living in a countryside and coping constantly with mouses and rats, I decided of post-poning the reading.

What a joy this book is. If you are a passionate of books you must read it!

Why did I write that we can "reading" Firmino at different levels? Because substantially Firmino is the misunderstood, the one no other ones will believe in grade of doing anything or just having a mind in grade of understading the world and its dynamics. Firmino is a sort of  Matilda by Dahl. Someone in the wrong place for the most diversified reasons or in Firmino's case, shape.

No one will think that a mouse is in grade of playing a piano, or having a mind, isn't it true? In a society of appearance like this one, being out of the schemes is not tolerable.

Under many ways Firmino, "read" as a human, is the weakest part of all of us although he is cynical, he can't cry because mouses don't cry and because world is too cruel for crying; he doesn't wait anything from a common mortal; yes he would want to sharing with other ones his thoughts but he can't articulate words, he can't speak like the other ones; his imagine reflected in the mirror is not a beautiful one, but an horrible vision to him. He would want to be human but he is not.

Who is Firmino? Apparently a common mouse born in the Boston of the 1960s and as all the possible mouses of the world, hated for the reasons we know. But...Firmino is different. 
Firmino is human under many ways; he is a passionate of books and girls, good and bad cinema; he loves Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, he reads the Boston Globe and he is a mouse of culture. 

Very soon he discovers that he is different from his siblings, from his mother, constantly drunker. He falls in love for books thanks to the fact that the nest where he was born in was in a bookstore: the Pembroke Books. He decides of staying. He didn't feel a great friendship with and for his siblings, and he won't never miss them. His reading is accurate and will involve all fields of knowledge. Nothing will be missed. At the same time Firmino starts to be affectionated to the owner of the bookstore, Norman. He will also present him some gifts, deciding to stopping because at some point the poor man will be too confused by these strange arrivals when the store is closed.

Firmino thought that he could become friend with Norman, of the bookstore and he will try, but without success. The man, once he discovered him and later his nest, did what we do all the time: he will add some poison for killing him.
Firmino is terrified by this discovery: betrayed by Norman, a man he appreciated a lot.

He will move on; moving on means to him meeting a writer often at the Pembroke Books, Jerry.
Not only this writer won't be scared by him but will bring him at home, a modest home; for disorder, close to the one of a family-mouse, thinks Firmino, donating him a new nest. He won't be surprised when he will find Firmino reading books; he won't be surprised when Firmino played a little piano that Jerry found somewhere and restored at new life.

Jerry was fat, he didn't live good moments sometimes; he was moody, but a good person. 
Too much.
Firmino imagined writers differently: characters like Ernest Hemingway or Francis Scott Fitzgerald attracted much more his attention. Women, excesses, extreme sensations; Jerry in this sense spent a lot of boring time to his point of view. Firmino didn't understand why he lived in that way sharing his existence, just, well, with a mouse.  

One day Jerry fell seriously sick and the arrival of relatives in the house upset to death Firmino. What it writes Savage is impressive: Firmino thought that it was scandalous that the relatives of Jerry did not notice the condition of the place where Jerry lived in, the human conditions he touched, but, mostly, reading the letters that they had sent to him, just being sad for their own time passed by insensitive to all the rest.

The end is stressing under many ways.

Questions left by this book are many.

At a certain point, thinking that maybe I was over-thinking I read two lines of Savage for understanding who he was. I read  that before to becaming a writer of success he was a teacher of philosophy. I thought that I was right in my over-thinking.

Highly recommended. 

Anna Maria Polidori