As you could read in my November TBR, I set a goal of reading four books in the month of November. I read a total of five books, but not the books I wanted to read! I totally forgot that I am a student with homework, oops. So instead I read one book for fun and four others for uni.
If this is a man by Primo Levi
In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” was arrested by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi’s classic account of his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint, compassion, and even wit, Survival in Auschwitz remains a lasting testament to the indestructibility of the human spirit.
This book was so very impressive to read. You get to read about the ‘life’ in a labourcamp near Auschwitz, told by Primo Levi. Since it’s told in a very neutral way, I tended to forget what I was reading about. Well, not really forget of course. But I got these moments where I was like “Wait, I was reading about people shut up together in a cold, unhygienic place, where they will most likely die. And this actually really happened not even a century ago” That’s what the narrative style did to me. And I think that was what gripped me most. Because all of this REALLY happened and that’s very surreal to think about.
Hiroshima Mon Amour by Marguerite Duras
Ostensibly the story of a love affair between a Japanese architect and a French actress visiting Japan to make a film on peace, Hiroshima Mon Amour is a stunning exploration of the influence of war on both Japanese and French culture and the conflict between love and humanity.
This book is actually a scenario of the film from 1959, also called Hiroshima Mon Amour. It was kind of a weird reading experience to me, because you don’t get to see the actual images which are described. That made it a little hard to understand most of the time. Fortunately we watched the beginning of the film in the seminar. We discussed the title of the book and film and if it was okay to make a film called ‘Auschwitz Mon Amour’. Beside that we discussed Immanuel Kants idea of ‘evil’ and the similarities between eros (love) and disasters as discussed by Marc de Kesel. (I’m afraid I would go on for too long if I’d try to describe it here haha)
Letter to His Father by Franz Kafka
We also had to read a letter from Franz Kafka to his father for uni. In this letter Kafka describes his anxieties and other problems he took with him from his childhood, mainly ’caused’ by his father. I think we all have these little troubles our childhood gave to us, for which we blame our parents. But we discussed that that’s not the case (most of the time, don’t get me wrong, it’s NEVER your fault to begin with) and that these problems only really exist in the troubled person’s mind. They interpreted the things their parents said in their own way and they kept them alive. Kafka didn’t really write this letter to his father, but actually to himself. (I recognised a lot of myself in this letter).
Ik heb altijd gelijk by Willem Frederik Hermans
Lodewijk Stegman die er als kind van droomde generaal te worden, keert na de tweede politionele actie uit Indonesië terug naar zijn vaderland. Hij is zo verbitterd geraakt door de Nederlandse politiek dat hij overweegt een partij op te richten ter opheffing van Nederland: de Nederlandse Europese Eenheidspartij. Ook het vooruitzicht naar zijn ouders terug te keren, stemt hem bitter. Hij stelt hen verantwoordelijk voor zijn maatschappelijke mislukking en voor de zelfmoord van zijn oudere zuster Deborah.
The title in English is (loosely translated) I am always right. This is a story about Lodewijk Stegman who comes back from Indonesia after the Netherlands lost their colonial power over this country. Like Kafka, Lodewijk has his own troubles with his parents and mostly with his father. Hermans is a great writer in my opinion; as good as all the words in his stories have a deeper meaning and I just love that! It’s a little hard to come by these meanings yourself, while reading it, but that’s why I love studying Literature: you get to discuss the books you read up to every single word (if you want haha)
Pop Goes the Weasel by M. J. Arlidge
This was the only book I read for fun this month and you can find a summary and my review on Pop Goes the Weasel over here!
How many books did you manage to read in the past month?