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Literary notes/1

Hello, again. It was a long time since I posted something here. I have been travelling and having had a cold that drained me of energy, so not much has happened on either the blog or the newsletter. I have been enjoying reading your blogs though, although there might not have been so many comments. In the meantime, I have run into some literary happenings that I wanted to tell you about.

Auster and Munro

Two literary giants have left us. Paul Auster died on 30 April, 2024 and Alice Munro on 13 May, 2024. Munro received the Nobel Prize for her writing in 2013 with the motivation "master of the contemporary short story". I have only read one of her books with short stories, but they stayed with me for a long time.

Ever since I read The Book of Illusions Auster has been a favourite author. Not long ago I read Brooklyn Follies and it is another master piece. I have now started on Report from the interior which I found in a second hand book shop in Ireland just two weeks ago. They will be missed, but, luckily they left behind many excellent literary works for us to enjoy.

Gdansk and its authors

I recently went on a trip (guided tour) to Gdansk in Poland. On the trip I 'met' with a couple of famous authors. On our short visit to Gdynia, I discovered a monument dedicated to Joseph Conrad. He was born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski (1857-1924) in Berdychiv (now Ukraine). He served as a merchant-marine for 20 years before he went into writing novels. As far as one knows he had no connection to Gdynia so it must be seen as a homage to his love for the sea. There is a description in Polish taken from his novel Lord Jim which says: "Nic tak nie nęci, nie rozczarowuje i nie zniewala, jak życie na morzu" ("There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than life at sea"). The monument was unveiled in 1976 and the artists are sculptors Danuta and Zdzisław Koseda and Wawrzyniec Samp.

On the last day, on our way to the beautiful sea resort of Sopot, our guide stopped the bus in a suburb of Gdansk. In a small park between the apartment houses there is a sculpture of another great author, namely Günther Grass. He was born here in 1927 in the then Free City of Danzig. He was drafted in late 1944 in the Waffen-SS and was taken prisoner of war by US forces at the end of the war. He was released in 1946. He was trained as a stonemason and sculptor and started writing in the 1950s. His writing often too him back to his Danzig days of childhood.

His best know novel, which has also been filmed, is The Tin Drum, described as European magic realism. I have not read the book, but saw the movie in 1980. I think it might be time to read the book now. Grass received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999 with the motivation that he was a writer "whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history."

Donna Leon and Venice

I have been to Venice again and that is always a treat. More will come through my newsletter soon. We were there for three days, but I managed to prolong my stay in Venice by reading three of Donna Leon's novels about Inspector Brunetti. Always a treat since Leon describes Venice and its inhabitants in an initiated way. So far read book #11 Wilful Behaviour and #12 Uniform Justice and I am reading #13 Doctored Evidence.

That was my literary notes for today. More will follow and next notes will be about a visit to Oscar Wilde's home in Dublin and a visit to a wonderful second hand book shop in Galway, Ireland.

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Your trip was quite literary. I had a bad experience with Joseph Conrad when I was young, and I've always wanted to read him again. The Tin Drum is a book I hope to read one of these days. I just need a little motivation.

Replying to

Yes, Debbie, turned out to be more literary than expected. I have not read a lot by Conrad, I think only Heart of Darkness which I might have to read again because I did not get an overview of the story. Lord Jim is wonderful, and I would suggest you start with this one. It is an easy read and easy to love.

The Tin Drum I definitely must read.


May 21

Nice combo of travels and lit! Emma @ Words And Peace

Replying to

It certainly is Emma. It was not in the plan either so a nice bonus surprise.

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