Welcome Back: My return, The Iliad, French Novels, and more!

19 March 2016

Hello everyone!

Welcome Back to Pages!

It's been almost a year since I last wrote a post and it's kind of shocking. I didn't notice how much time has passed since then and it's kind of tragic for a book-lover like myself to have not read for so long. Thank you all for not unfollowing me (I still have over 500 readers!) I hope I don't disappoint this time around!

As it's only fair, I'll attempt to explain my absence. As a Chemistry major taking a full load of science classes, along with advanced mathematics and other courses, it's been difficult to make time to read. Because of my mild depression, that sometimes swings into full blow like now, I found it easier to just watch films or movies instead of applying myself to read. It's true that when one is depressed, she finds it hard to enjoy the things she once loved. I was never much of a film buff growing up, it was always about the books. Yet somehow, I've turned a full 180 and I've realised it's time to go back to my roots. That's not to say I can't watch films, but when I open up Netflix, I'll think twice about clicking on a film instead of turning to the bookcase behind me. I spent last summer taking Ethics and Calculus and along with family obligations, it all became a bit tedious.
 Part of the reason I haven't been reading as deeply is because I'm finding it hard to find good books. Or at least, books I want to read. This past year, I've felt as if I've read every good book there is and there just aren't any available to me to enjoy. Of course, this is an utterly wrong claim and to ease me back from my hopelessness, I've turned to a text I definitely will enjoy: The Iliad.

The Iliad Quest

 Among the books I plan on reading, I'll be on an ongoing quest to find the perfect translation of the Iliad. I've always been deeply fascinated by ancient Greek literature, art, philosophy, and politics. I grew up on picture books detailing Greek myths and, in a long process, fell in love with The Iliad. I'm not so much a fan of the Odyssey because it lacks the "big picture" context of the Trojan War and focuses on an egotistical King who stupidly sacrifices his entire crew for no good reason. I digress.

Now, what do I mean by "perfect translation"? I mean what I perceive to be perfection. Every translation offers something different, whether one is searching for a text that's true to the original Greek test or that's easy to read. Perhaps even a text that combines the lyrical quality of the original Greek with a more modern narrative. I've gotten mixed advice everywhere I search so I plan on reading as many versions of the Iliad as I can and hopefully journalling key differences, favourite quotes, and, obviously, reviews! My first review will be over a very new translation by Caroline Alexander.
 I understand that I'd get too overwhelmed reading so much of the same story so I don't plan on rushing this quest of mine. I'll read and review several more books in between. Which brings me towards French novels!

French Novels

Those of you who have followed for a while will remember when I love the French existential writers Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Yet the whole of French literature is hardly encompassed in these works. So I've decided to at least attempt to read some classic French literature as well as some more of the "intellectual" literature that I so often hear French characters talking about in films (For example, "Adolphe"by Benjamin Constant, mentioned in the film "What's in a Name?"). Or I'll just read a book that interests me. Here are a few on my list:

  • Blindness by Jose
  • The Character of Rain by Amelie Nothomb 
  • Bel Ami by  Guy de Maupassant
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I'll continue to add to the list. They'll be under my "To Be Read" page.
I'd like to admire the humble printing of French novels, even to this day amongst the pieces of art displayed on English/English translated covers. They consist of a beige or white background, the title and author of the book in a simple font, and maybe a garnish of an outline. Take a look of this book that I want to read but, unfortunately, I can't because it hasn't been translated yet. It's such a shame how much we're missing out on in the literary world because of great books that go by untranslated. In an Anglophilic, or at the very least, Anglocentric, world that we live in, we often ignore the rest of what the world writes. It's a stereotype Europeans have of Americans that hold an ounce of truth: Americans don't really care for the rest of the world. Naturally, I'm not like that and I know many of you are not, but this lack of enthusiasm for foreign literature reveals much.

Anyway. Take a look at this covers:
It's a bit bold going for that thick red, compared to other covers. I think, if I ever get published, I'd want my book to look like this. Covers force a view of the text that is entirely based on the artist's perspectives, or at least that of the publisher. Plain covers give nothing away--the only information you can gain for what's inside is the title. This is how it should be because I judge books by their covers. It's a bad habit but it's hard to stop! If every book had these covers, readers could fairly read and judge a book by the written word.

That's my little spiel. I hope you all have been doing well! Leave comments, I'd love to get back in touch. 


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