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My Top Ten novels

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I made a list eight years ago. Some later reading experiences crave for admission!

The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian, I read it in Swedish though. The novel that has all you need, violent love, tender love, crime, religious debate, ridiculous scenes, doubtful business dealings, all of it. And a rather ambiguous message: the title person gets into catastrophe, but I feel that in the heart of it, he is the only sane person and all the others sick.

Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften – Robert Musil, in German. The Man Without Qualities. A counterpart to the above: a very thick unfinished novel with thin contents, but intellectually fascinating and partly very funny.

War And Peace – Lev Tolstoy, Russian. Read in Swedish, alas. A huge painting of Russia in wartime with all kinds of people running into and out of it, with Emperor Napoleon in an important role.

Le Rouge et le Noir – Stendhal, French. The Red and the Black. Youthful passion crushed by corrupt society. Also a harsh criticism of the Catholic Church.

NEW: Our Mutual Friend  –  Charles Dickens. The fates of some families of different social ranks, who at times get entangled with each other. Some disasters and some survivals among them, and at least one happy end. Almost a Dostoevsky of London!

Fröknarna von Pahlen – Agnes von Krusenstjerna, Swedish. The Misses von Pahlen, a series of seven novels about social life in the early 20th century, focusing on a girl who is raised by her unmarried aunt because both parents are dead. Not outspokenly feminist, but still a pioneer in writing about women and men as women see them.

For Whom The Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway. Spanish Civil War through the fate of an American volunteer who goes there because he loves the country, not really liking to fight.

Das Glasperlenspiel – Hermann Hesse, in German. The Glass Bead Game. The end of civilisation, and mysterious beginnings of a new one.

Villette – Charlotte Brontë. Of all characters in all novels I know, the one that is most like me is the main character of this one – a woman!

NEW: The Alexandria Quartet  –  Lawrence Durrell. It took me a long time to read all four, not that they should be hard to read, but because the whole has a meditative mood which all along evokes new thoughts in the reader’s mind. The life of a limited circle of people who all know each other more or less, during a few years when they all live in the same city. Even though the narrator is an “I”, all of them on occasions step forward, taking the lead. There are even lots of quotations from an earlier novel which was never really written, because its author himself is a fictional character!

Having read [slowly, during a long time] The Alexandria Quartet

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I will say something about what use you can have of reading good fiction. This series of novels by Lawrence Durrell is great of course, I hardly need to tell you that. The story is about the life of a limited circle of people who all know each other more or less, during a few years when they all live in the same city. Even though the narrator is an “I”, all of them on occasions step forward, taking the lead. There are even lots of quotations from an earlier novel which was never really written, because its author himself is a fictional character! After the last page of the last volume, I had a similar feeling as I have got from other great reading experiences, be it “Dombey and Son” or “The Da Vinci Code”, an insight which is harder to get from philosophy or psychology: Nothing is exactly what it looks like. There is always the possibility of another aspect that you cannot think of right now, but later may appear as the solution you missed.

Written by svensays

December 21, 2015 at 13:56

Posted in Lawrence Durrell, unbelief

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