Filed under book, fiction | Tags: · bourgeoisie, decadence, fin de siècle
“À rebours (1884) is a novel by the French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans. Its narrative concentrates almost entirely on its principal character and is mostly a catalogue of the tastes and inner life of Jean Des Esseintes, an eccentric, reclusive aesthete and antihero who loathes 19th-century bourgeois society and tries to retreat into an ideal artistic world of his own creation. The novel contains many themes that became associated with the Symbolist aesthetic. In doing so, it broke from Naturalism and became the ultimate example of ‘decadent’ literature.” (Wikipedia)
With illustrations by Auguste Leroux
Publisher A. Ferroud – F. Ferroud, Paris, 1920
English edition: Against the Grain
Translated by John Howard
Introduction by Havelock Ellis
Publisher Lieber & Lewis, New York, 1922
English edition: Against Nature
Translated by Robert Baldick, 1956
With an Introduction and Notes by Patrick McGuinness
Publisher Penguin Books, 2003
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Filed under book, fiction | Tags: · expressionism, symbolism
“Alfred Kubin (1877-1959) was one of the major graphic artists of the 20th century who was widely known for his illustrations of writers of the fantastic such as Balzac, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Gustav Meyrink and Edgar Allan Poe. In his combination of the darkly decadent, the fantastic and the grotesque, in his evocations of dream and nightmare, his creation of an atmosphere of mystery and fear he resembles Mervyn Peake.
The Other Side tells of a dream kingdom which becomes a nightmare, of a journey to Pearl, a mysterious city created deep in Asia, which is also a journey to the depths of the subconscious. Or as Kubin himself called it, ‘a sort of Baedeker for those lands which are half known to us’.” (from book jacket)
Originally published in German as Die andere Seite, Christa Spangenberg, Munich, 1908
Translated by Mike Mitchell
Publisher Dedalus, UK, 2000
Dedalus European Classics series
Filed under fiction | Tags: · aviation
The first novel by Chris Marker.
“His friend Alain Resnais recalls that Marker favored a 1951 English translation of his prizewinning (Prix Orion, 1950) novel [..] because it had so little resemblance to the original.” (source)
Originally published in French as Le cœur net, Le Seuil, Paris, 1949
Translated by Robert Kee and Terence Kilmartin
Publisher Allan Wingate, London, 1951
watch Marker’s 1989 TV mini-series The Owl’s Legacy (Monoskop wiki)
Filed under fiction | Tags: · city
Imaginary conversations between Marco Polo and his host, the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, conjure up cities of magical times.
“The book, because of its approach to the imaginative potentialities of cities, has been used by architects and artists to visualize how cities can be, their secret folds, where the human imagination is not necessarily limited by the laws of physics or the limitations of modern urban theory. It offers an alternative approach to thinking about cities, how they are formed and how they function.” (Wikipedia)
Originally published in Italian as Le città invisibili, Giulio Einaudi Editore, 1972
Translated by William Weaver
Publisher Harcourt Brace & Company, San Diego/New York/London, 1974
Le città invisibili (Italian, 1972)
Invisible Cities (English, trans. William Weaver, 1974)
Görünmez Kentler (Turkish, trans. Işıl Saatçioğlu, 1990)
Neviditeľné mestá (Slovak, trans. Pavol Koprda, 2000)
As cidades invisíveis (Portuguese, trans. Diogo Mainardi, 2003)
Las ciudades invisibles (Spanish, 2008)
Filed under fiction | Tags: · identity, memory, migration, new york, race
A haunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss, dislocation, and surrender, Teju Cole’s Open City seethes with intelligence. It is a profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our country and our world.
Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency wanders aimlessly, reflecting on his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. Though he is navigating the busy parts of town, the impression of countless faces does nothing to assuage his feelings of isolation. But it is not only a physical landscape he covers; Julius crisscrosses social territory as well, encountering people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey—which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul.
Winner of the 2012 PEN/Hemingway Award.
Publisher Random House, 2011
ISBN 0812980093, 9780812980097
Filed under fiction | Tags: · history, memory
Austerlitz is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, Austerlitz follows their trail back to the world he left behind a half century before. There, faced with the void at the heart of twentieth-century Europe, he struggles to rescue his heritage from oblivion. This tenth anniversary edition of W. G. Sebald’s celebrated masterpiece includes a new Introduction by acclaimed critic James Wood.
Originally published in German by C. Hanser, Munich, 2001.
Translated by Anthea Bell
Introduction by James Wood
Publisher Random House, 2001
ISBN 0812982614, 9780812982619
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Filed under fiction | Tags: · algorithm, computing, history of computing, history of technology, machine, mathematics, technology, turing machine
Our hero is Turing, an interactive tutoring program and namesake (or virtual emanation?) of Alan Turing, World War II code breaker and father of computer science. In this unusual novel, Turing’s idiosyncratic version of intellectual history from a computational point of view unfolds in tandem with the story of a love affair involving Ethel, a successful computer executive, Alexandros, a melancholy archaeologist, and Ian, a charismatic hacker. After Ethel (who shares her first name with Alan Turing’s mother) abandons Alexandros following a sundrenched idyll on Corfu, Turing appears on Alexandros’s computer screen to unfurl a tutorial on the history of ideas. He begins with the philosopher-mathematicians of ancient Greece—”discourse, dialogue, argument, proof… can only thrive in an egalitarian society”—and the Arab scholar in ninth-century Baghdad who invented algorithms; he moves on to many other topics, including cryptography and artificial intelligence, even economics and developmental biology. (These lessons are later critiqued amusingly and developed further in postings by a fictional newsgroup in the book’s afterword.) As Turing’s lectures progress, the lives of Alexandros, Ethel, and Ian converge in dramatic fashion, and the story takes us from Corfu to Hong Kong, from Athens to San Francisco—and of course to the Internet, the disruptive technological and social force that emerges as the main locale and protagonist of the novel.
Alternately pedagogical and romantic, Turing (A Novel about Computation) should appeal both to students and professionals who want a clear and entertaining account of the development of computation and to the general reader who enjoys novels of ideas.
Publisher MIT Press, 2003
Computer Science series
ISBN 0262661918, 9780262661911
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