26 Kasım 2015 Perşembe

Book Review VIII: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Goodreads on the Book:

Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Intended at first as a simple story of a boy's adventures in the Mississippi Valley - a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - the book grew and matured under Twain's hand into a work of immeasurable richness and complexity. More than a century after its publication, the critical debate over the symbolic significance of Huck's and Jim's voyage is still fresh, and it remains a major work that can be enjoyed at many levels: as an incomparable adventure story and as a classic of American humor.

My review:

I have to admit that my main motivation to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was the fact that it is considered one of the greatest novels of the American literature. Yet, I can simply say that it is not one of my favorite books at all. 

When started reading, I had no difficulty in getting into the book since it is quite gripping with well developed stories, inclusion of child imagination and very rich description of the people and places. However, the book used, I guess, more than one damn dialectics that I have no idea about and that simply distracted my attention. Frankly speaking I did not understand some parts of those speech form of dialectics used very frequently in conversations. 

The most famous historical fictions of American literature like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Help has the same topic of controversial social status of blacks and related issues. I can say that this book was the harshest one due to the involvement of slavery. Knowing that racism is a sensitive topic among those who discuss and/or challenge the book, I could say that judging the book dating back to 2 centuries ago with today's values makes no sense. So, I recommend readers to leave it as it is and not to get into racism discussions... On the contrary, understanding the beauty of a inner journey of Huck, the main character, and his growing up in the course of the whole amazing story with an undeniable creativity of childhood imagination is the biggest pleasure and take-away from the book.

26 Ekim 2015 Pazartesi

Book Review VII: Chess Story by Stefan Zweig

Goodreads says:

Chess Story, also known as The Royal Game, is the Austrian master Stefan Zweig's final achievement, completed in Brazilian exile and sent off to his American publisher only days before his suicide in 1942. It is the only story in which Zweig looks at Nazism, and he does so with characteristic emphasis on the psychological.

Travelers by ship from New York to Buenos Aires find that on board with them is the world champion of chess, an arrogant and unfriendly man. They come together to try their skills against him and are soundly defeated. Then a mysterious passenger steps forward to advise them and their fortunes change. How he came to possess his extraordinary grasp of the game of chess and at what cost lie at the heart of Zweig's story.

This new translation of Chess Story brings out the work's unusual mixture of high suspense and poignant reflection

My review:

A fascinating masterpiece. The book presents a sensational plot with deep psychoanalysis. Yet, it is not a dull one but rather gripping and sometimes nerve-shredding... Therefore, once you start reading, you will finish it while keeping your breath...

Being an old amateur chess player, I used to study each and every single match played by Capablanca and worked on his approach to the game. As far as I remember, I was able to play the game in my mind for the first 7 or 8 moves. For this reason, the book is very much appealing to me. Yet, even if you are not a chess fun, you will enjoy it since chess is just a means to dig deeper into the subconsciousness and to discover the very thin line between the reality and delusion. The end result is such a mind-boggling travel to brain, intellectuality and nervous system. 

Chess is just a metaphor to explain  writer's perception of life and political struggles of the time which led to death of millions of people in such a ruthless way. Indeed, this royal game, either a game of resistance or of endless greed to annihilate opponents, lacks conscience like Zweig's perception of Europe of war years. So, the book is like a mirror of the life of Stefan Zweig who committed suicide right after the the completion of the final draft  of the book to be published. He, like the Dr. B. who left the game at the end of the book on his own will, decided to end his life by thanking to his new home, Brasil.  

The pity is that it is a very short book and it makes you sad to finish it. I strongly recommend the book without hesitation to anyone.