Book review: Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene

Monsignor QuixoteMonsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4 – 15 Minute Drama:
Dramatised by Stephen Wyatt

Graham Greene’s comic ‘entertainment’, set in rural Spain a few years after the death of Franco.
Father Quixote makes a friend of an Italian bishop, with unexpected consequences.

2/10: Father Quixote receives some unwelcome – and very surprising – news from his bishop.

3/10: Newly appointed a Monsignor, Father Quixote and his friend Sancho set off on their quest for purple socks.

4/10: Father Quixote and his friend Sancho arrive in Madrid to buy purple socks – and attract the unwelcome attention of the Guardia Civil.

5/10: Father Quixote and his friend Sancho arrive in Madrid to buy purple socks – and attract the unwelcome attention of the Guardia Civil.

6/10: Monsignor Quixote and Sancho help a robber – and pay an unexpected price.

7/10: Monsignor Quixote wakes from a drugged sleep to discover that he has been kidnapped and taken back to El Toboso.

8/10: Imprisoned in his own house, Father Quixote is at the mercy of his bishop – unless his friend Sancho can pull off a daring rescue.

9/10: Having escaped El Toboso, Monsignor Quixote and Sancho go in search of wine but find themselves in a battle to save the honour of the church.

10/10: Monsignor Quixote and Sancho are taken in by the monks at the monastery of Oseira and their journey comes to an end.

Directed by Marc Beeby.

3* The Third Man
4* The End of the Affair
4* Our Man in Havana
3* The Captain and the Enemy
3* The Quiet American
4* The Ministry of Fear
4* The Power and the Glory
4* The Honorary Consul
3* Orient Express
4* Monsignor Quixote
TR Brighton Rock
TR Travels With My Aunt
TR The Tenth Man
TR The Heart of the Matter

Book review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1) by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Arthur Dent is trying to stop his house being demolished to make way for a by-pass. But his friend, Ford Prefect (who hails not from Guildford, but somewhere near Betelgeuse), is more concerned about the imminent destruction of the Earth. Ford is a writer for the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, “the most successful book ever to have come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor” and he may just know how to avoid being evaporated by the Vogons…

The global multi-media success story that is “Hitchhiker’s” started life as a Radio 4 series in March 1978. The original scripts by the late Douglas Adams then went on to spawn a series of novels, a feature film, at least three stage shows, a TV series, a computer game, a collection of comic books – and various towels.

The Guide helpfully informs us that the most obscene expletive in the galaxy is “Belgium”.

Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge and died in 2001 aged 49, after a fatal heart attack in his gym in California.

The answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42.

With Peter Jones, Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern and Jo Kendall. Produced by Simon Brett.

First heard on BBC Radio 4 in March 1978.

New ebook available @Project Gutenberg: The Autobiography of Goethe. Truth and Poetry: From My Own Life, Vol. I by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Oxenford (Translator)

The Autobiography of Goethe. Truth and Poetry: From My Own Life, Vol. IThe Autobiography of Goethe. Truth and Poetry: From My Own Life, Vol. I by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Autobiography of Goethe
Truth and Poetry: From My Own Life

Author: Johan Wolfgang von Goethe

Translator: John Oxenford
A. J. W. Morrison

Release Date: July 26, 2016 [EBook #52654]

Language: English

Produced by Laura N.R. and Marc D’Hooghe at (Images generously made available by the Internet Archive.)

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

I made the proofreading this book for Free Literature and it is published by Project Gutenberg, probably in 2 volumes as the original version.

The original files are provided by Vol 1: InternetArchive

Page 32:

Thus, the Frankforters passed a series of prosperous years during my childhood; but scarcely, on the 28th of August, 1756, had I completed my seventh year, than that world-renowned war broke out, which was also to exert great influence upon the next seven years of my life.

Page 71:

It now seems necessary to state more circumstantially, and to make intelligible how, under these circumstances, I made my way with more or less ease through the French language, which, however, I had never learned. Here, too, my natural gift was of service to me, enabling me easily to catch the sound of a language, its movement, accent, tone, and all other outward peculiarities. I knew many words from the Latin; Italian suggested still more; and by listening to servants and soldiers, sentries and visitors, I soon picked up so much that, if I could not join in conversation, I could at any rate manage single questions and answers. All this, however, was little compared to the profit I derived from the theatre.

page 78:

Thus, after an unquiet Passion-week, the Good-Friday of 1759 arrived. A profound stillness announced the approaching storm. We children were forbidden to quit the house: my father had no quiet, and went out.

page 267:

At this time the Lives of the Painters, by D’Argenville, was translated into German; I obtained it quite fresh, and studied it assiduously enough. This seemed to please Oeser, and he procured us an opportunity of seeing many a portfolio out of the great Leipzig collections, and thus introduced us to the history of the art. But even these exercises produced in me an effect different from that which he probably had in mind. The manifold subjects which I saw treated by artists awakened the poetic talent in me, and as one easily makes an engraving for a poem, so did I now make poems to the engravings
and drawings, by contriving to present to myself the personages introduced in them, in their previous and subsequent condition, and sometimes to compose a little song which might have suited them; and thus accustomed myself to consider the arts in connexion with each other.

Page 310:

Yet this dissipation and dismemberment of my studies was not enough, they were to be once more seriously disturbed; for a remarkable political event set everything in motion, and procured us a tolerable succession of holidays. Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of France, was to pass through Strasburg on her road to Paris.

Page 408:

Ecclesiastical history was almost better known to me than the history of the world, and that conflict in which the church–the publicly recognised worship of God–finds itself, and always will find itself, in two different directions, had always highly interested me.

Page 420:

From his youth upwards, Voltaire’s wishes and endeavours had been directed to an active and social life, to politics, to gain on a large scale, to a connexion with the heads of the earth, and a profitable use of this connexion, that he himself might be one of the heads of the earth also. No one has easily made himself so dependent, for the sake of being independent. He even succeeded in subjugating minds; the nation became his own. In vain did his opponents unfold their moderate talents, and their monstrous hate; nothing succeeded in injuring him. The court he could never reconcile to himself, but by way of compensation, foreign kings were his tributaries; Katharine and Frederic the Great, Gustavus of Sweden, Christian of Denmark, Peniotowsky of Poland, Henry of Prussia, Charles of Brunswick, acknowledged themselves his vassals; even popes thought they must coax him by some acts of indulgence.

page 422:

Diderot was sufficiently akin to us, as, indeed, in everything, for which the French blame him, he is a true German. But even his point of view was too high, his circle of vision was too extended for us to range ourselves with him, and place ourselves at his side. Nevertheless, his children of nature, whom he continued to bring forward and dignify with great rhetorical art, pleased us very much; his brave poachers and smugglers enchanted us; and this rabble afterwards throve but too well upon the German Parnassus. It was he also, who, like Rousseau, diffused a disgust of social life–a quiet introduction to those monstrous changes of the world, in which everything permanent appeared to sink.

Page 470:

The resolution to preserve my internal nature according to its peculiarities, and to let external nature influence me according to its qualities, impelled me to the strange element in which Werther is designed and written. I sought to free myself internally from all that was foreign to me, to regard
the external with love, and to allow all beings, from man downwards, as low as they were comprehensible, to act upon me, each after its own kind. Thus arose a wonderful affinity with the single objects of nature, and a hearty concord, a harmony with the whole, so that every change, whether of place and region, or of the times of the day and year, or whatever else could happen, affected me in the deepest manner. The glance of the painter associated itself to that of the poet, the beautiful rural landscape, animated by the pleasant river, increased my love of solitude, and favoured my silent observations as they extended on all sides.

Book review: The Periodic Table by Primo Levi, Raymond Rosenthal (Translator)

The Periodic TableThe Periodic Table by Primo Levi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4:
Janet Suzman introduces a major new dramatization of Primo Levi’s short stories about our human relationship with the chemical elements that make up our universe – a book the Royal Institution of Great Britain named ‘the best science book ever’. Starring Henry Goodman, Akbar Kurtha, Erich Redman and Juliet Aubrey. Dramatized by Graham White from the translation by Raymond Rosenthal.

1/11 Vanadium: In the course of his work as a chemist in a paint factory in the 1960s, Primo Levi receives a letter from one of the factory’s German clients, signed by a Doktor Muller. Could this be the Doktor Muller who had overseen Levi’s work as a prisoner in the lab at Auschwitz?

2/11 Argon: Primo imagines a fantasy meeting with his Piedmontese ancestors, who share a number of characteristics with the noble, rare and inert gases, such as Argon.

3/11 Sulphur – Ben Crowe plays a boiler man who saves Primo’s factory from disaster; Titanium – Evie Killip reads this short story about a little girl who is fascinated by a man painting with white paint.

4/11 In ‘Lead’, set in the ancient world, a prospector travels from northern to southern Europe in search of the valuable, but toxic, lead rock. Read by Paul Copley.

5/11: Mercury 1820s – an English captain and his wife live on a remote Atlantic island, with strange chemical properties.

6/11 Iron: The story of Primo Levi’s early life as a chemist in Mussolini’s Italy, from his student days, his early crushes and his first experiences as a professional chemist, at a time when it was increasingly hard for Jewish Italians to find work.

7/11 Gold: The Nazis invade Italy and Primo’s friends are forced to scatter. Primo and Vanda head into the mountains in order to join the partisans.

8/11 Cerium: Primo’s training as a chemist helps him to survive the terrible conditions of Auschwitz.

9/11 Arsenic and Silver: At his retirement party, Primo recounts amusing stories from a professional chemist’s life.

10/11 Vanadium Part 2: In the course of his work as a chemist in a paint factory in the 1960s, Primo Levi has received a letter from one of the factory’s German clients, Doktor Muller. The same Doktor Muller who had overseen Levi’s work as a prisoner in the lab at Auschwitz. And now Muller wants to meet.

11/11 Carbon: Levi imagines the incredible, centuries-long journey of a single atom of carbon.

Produced and directed by Marc Beeby and Emma Harding.

New ebook available @Project Gutenberg: Élaine by Alfred Tennyson, Francisque Michel (Translator), Gustave Doré (Illustrator)

ÉlaineÉlaine by Alfred Tennyson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Elaine

Author: Alfred Tennyson

Illustrator: Gustave Doré

Translator: Francisque Michel

Release Date: July 17, 2016 [EBook #52592]

Language: French

Produced by Laura N.R. and Marc D’Hooghe at (Images generously made
available by Gallica, Bibliothèque nationale de France.)

Original file provided by BnF-Gallica

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

… Et la morte conduite par lui s’avança avec la marée, le lis dans sa main droite, la lettre dans sa main gauche…

Opening lines:
Dans sa chambre, à l’étage le plus élevé d’une tour, Élaine la belle, Élaine l’aimable, Élaine, la blanche fille d’Astolat, gardait l’écu sacré de Lancelot. Elle l’avait d abord placé à l’endroit où les premiers rayons du matin pouvaient le frapper et la réveiller par leur éclat. Plus tard, craignant la rouille ou quelque souillure, elle lui fit un fourreau de soie et y broda toutes les armoiries blasonnées sur l’écu, avec les couleurs qui leur étaient propres; elle ajouta de son idée une bordure de fantaisie composée de rinceaux et de fleurs, et des oiselets à la gorge jaune dans leur nid.



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On Wednesday 8th June 2016 at the Clore Ballroom, Southbank Centre, London, Irish author Lisa McInerney was announced the winner of the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for her debut novel The Glorious Heresies.

Chair of Judges, Margaret Mountford, presented Lisa with the £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited edition bronze figurine.

Margaret Mountford, Chair of Judges, commented: “After a passionate discussion around a very strong shortlist, we chose Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies, a superbly original, compassionate novel that delivers insights into the very darkest of lives through humour and skilful storytelling. A fresh new voice and a wonderful winner.”

New ebook available @Project Gutenberg: The Temptation of St. Anthony by Gustave Flaubert, Hearn Lafcadio (Translator), Odilon Redon (Illustrator)

The Temptation of St. AnthonyThe Temptation of St. Anthony by Gustave Flaubert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: The Temptation of St. Anthony

Author: Gustave Flaubert

Release Date: June 4, 2016 [eBook #52225]

Language: English

E-text prepared by Laura N.R. and Marc D’Hooghe ( from page images generously made available by the Google Books Library Project (
and illustrations generously made available by Bibliothèque nationale de France (

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Gustave Flaubert, best known for his masterpiece Madame Bovary, spent nearly thirty years working on a surreal and largely ‘unreadable’ retelling of the temptation of Saint Anthony. Colin Dickey explores how it was only in the dark and compelling illustrations of Odilon Redon, made years later, that Flaubert’s strangest work finally came to life.

Read online at The Public Domain Review.

“Anthony: What Is the Point of All This? The Devil: There Is No Point!”,

by Odilon Redon from his “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” series

I made the proofreading this book for Free Literature and it will be published by Project Gutenberg.

The original files are provided by Internet Archive.

And they are also available at HathiTrust.

Page 18:

It was in 1845 that an old picture by Breughel, seen at Genoa, first inspired Flaubert to attempt the story of St. Anthony. He sought out an engraving of this conception of Peter the Younger (surnamed “Hell-Breughel” for his fondness for such subjects), hung it on his walls at Croisset, and after three years of brooding upon it began, May 24, 1848, La Tentation de St. Antoine.

Page 19:

“In its primitive and legendary state the temptation of St. Anthony was nothing more than the story of a recluse tempted by the Devil through the flesh, by all the artifices at the Devil’s disposal. In the definite thought of Flaubert the temptation of St. Anthony has become man’s soul tempted by all the illusions of human thought and imagination. St. Anthony to the eyes of the first naive hagiologists is a second Adam, seduced by woman, who was inspired by Satan. St. Anthony conceived by Flaubert is a more thoughtful Faust; a Faust incapable of irony, not a Faust who could play with illusions and with himself–secretly persuaded that he could withdraw when he chose to give himself the trouble to do so–rather a Faust who approached, accosted, caressed all possible forms of universal illusions.”