New ebook available @Project Gutenberg: The memoirs of François René, vicomte de Chateaubriand, sometime ambassador to England, Volume 1 of 6 by François René Chateaubriand, Alexander Teixeira de Mattos (Translator)


The memoirs of François René, vicomte de Chateaubriand, sometime ambassador to England, Volume 1 of 6The memoirs of François René, vicomte de Chateaubriand, sometime ambassador to England, Volume 1 of 6 by François René Chateaubriand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Memoirs of François René Vicomte de Chateaubriand sometime Ambassador to England, Volume 1 (of 6)
Mémoires d’outre-tombe, volume 1

Author: François René Chateaubriand
Alexander Teixeira de Mattos

Release Date: May 18, 2017 [EBook #54743]

Language: English

Produced by Laura N.R. & Marc D’Hooghe at Free Literature (online soon in an extended version, also linking to free sources for education worldwide … MOOC’s, educational materials,…) Images generously made available by the Hathi Trust.

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Images generously available at HathiTrust

Page xxiii:
When death lowers the curtain between me and the world, it shall be found that my drama was divided into three acts.

From my early youth until 1800, I was a soldier and a traveller; from 1800 to 1811, under the Consulate and the Empire, my life was given to literature; from the Restoration to the present day, it has been devoted to politics.

Page 159:
No event, however wretched or hateful in itself, should be treated lightly when its circumstances are serious, or when it marks an epoch: what should have been seen in the capture of the Bastille (and what was not then seen) was, not the violent act of the emancipation of a people, but the emancipation itself which resulted from that act.

Book review: Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China by Alec Ash


Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New ChinaWish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China by Alec Ash
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4 – Book of the Week:
The stories of young Chinese lives, particularly those young people born under the one-child policy of the 1980s, as they seek to negotiate the expectations of those around them and their own inner desires for self-fulfilment.

Dahai is a military child and a rebel, Fred is a daughter of the Party and Xiaoxiao grew up in the far north and longed to travel south. All were infants when the tanks rolled through Beijing in 1989 and none really know much about their country’s recent past. But the way China develops in the future is very much something that will affect their lives – and their behaviour and decisions will affect ours.

There are approximately 322 million Chinese aged between 16 and 30 – a group larger than the population of the USA and destined to have an unprecedented influence on global affairs in the coming years. The one-child policy has led to a generation of only children. There is intense competition for education and jobs, and a tug-of-war between cultural change and tradition, nationalism and the lures of the West. We know the headlines of their lives, but what of the details?

Written by Alec Ash
Read by David Seddon
Abridged and Produced by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07pf1bb

Book review: Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre


Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary DaughterSomething Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4 – Book of the Week:
Born a week after the death of Che Guevara, Carmen Aguirre was always destined to become a revolutionary. After Pinochet’s violent coup in Chile in 1973, her family is forced to flee to Canada. And when, a few years later, the Chilean resistance calls for exiled activists to return to fight the cause, Carmen’s mother heeds the call. Determined to make mini revolutionaries of her two daughters, she takes them with her – and so Carmen’s double life begins. Posing as a westernised teenager by day, at night she is drilled in surveillance techniques, cryptography and subterfuge, not to mention political theory and revolutionary history. It is a time of high excitement, but also one of fear and paranoia, of who to trust, and who to fear.

From Pinochet’s repressive rule in Chile, to Shining Path Peru, dictatorship-run Bolivia to post-Malvinas Argentina, this is a darkly comic coming-of-age memoir is a rare first-hand account of a life as teenage revolutionary. It is also the story of a young girl trying to reconcile her commitment to the cause with her very unrevolutionary new interests in boys, music and fashion.

1/5: dressed as an all-American teenager, Carmen returns to Latin America with her mother and sister to join the underground, and a new life of subterfuge and danger.

2/5: After a perilous visit to her beloved Chile, Carmen finds herself questioning her commitment to the cause.

3/5: when the situation in Bolivia becomes to dangerous, Carmen finds herself in rural Argentina in the depths of a harsh winter.

4/5: a mission across the Andes goes perilously wrong, and Carmen is forced to risk all.

5/5: secret police, paranoia and mistrust, as the resistance begins to falter…

Author: Carmen Aguirre is a playwright and actor, now living in Vancouver.
Reader: Mia Soteriou.
Abridger: Richard Hamilton
Producer: Justine Willett.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015yt3s

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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07kp709

New ebook available @ Project Gutenberg: My Memoirs, Vol VI: 1832-1833 by Alexandre Dumas, E.M. Waller (Translator), Andrew Lang (Introduction)


My Memoirs, Vol VI: 1832-1833My Memoirs, Vol VI: 1832-1833 by Alexandre Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: My Memoirs, Vol. VI, 1832-1833

Author: Alexandre Dumas

Translator: E. M. Waller

Release Date: February 2, 2016 [EBook #51105]

Language: English

Produced by Laura NR and Marc D’Hooghe at http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made
available by the Hathi Trust.)

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

I made the R2/R3 round for Free Literature and this book will be published by Project Gutenberg.

The original files are provided by InternetArchive.

Page 40:

Tony did as I did; he first of all worked at the rate of six hours a day, then eight, then ten, then twelve, then fifteen: work is like the intoxication of hashish and of opium: it creates a fictitious life inside real life, so full of delicious dreams and adorable hallucinations that one ends by preferring the fictitious life to the real one.

Page 387:

“The history of the July Revolution lay entirely in those words: ‘Nobility is loyalty’s true buckler; so long as she has worn it on her arm, she has driven back foreign warfare and smothered civil war; but, from the day when, in anger, she imprudently breaks it, she is defenceless. Louis XI. had slain the great vassals; Louis XIII. the grand seigneurs and Louis XIV. the aristocrats, so that, when Charles X. called to his aid the d’Armagnacs, the Montmorencys and the Lauzuns, his voice only called up shades and phantoms.’

Page 408:

Towards the end of September, we heard in France of the death of Walter Scott. That death made a certain impression on me; not that I had the honour of knowing the author of Ivanhoe and of Waverley, but the reading of Walter Scott, it will be recollected, had a great influence on my early literary life.

Page 409:

The analysis of Walter Scott had made me understand the novel from another point of view than that of our country. A similar fidelity to manners, costumes and characters, with more lively dialogue and more natural passions, seemed to me to be what we needed. Such was my conviction, but I was far enough yet from suspecting that I should attempt to do for France what Scott had done for Scotland.

Page 518:

“Do not be discouraged, my child. You cannot write an article in ten lines; but, some day, you will write novels in ten volumes. Try, first of all, to rid your mind of imitations; all beginners start by copying others. Don’t be anxious, you will gradually find your own feet, and be the first to forget how it all came to you.”
And, as a matter of fact, during six weeks of the spring of 1832, which she spent in the country, George Sand wrote a novel in two volumes. That novel was Indiana. She returned from the country, went to see Latouche and confessed, trembling, the fresh crime she had just committed.

Page 576:

“Walter Scott has depicted localities, characters, manners; you must take the novel from Walter Scott’s hands, as Raphael took art from Perugino’s, and add the passions.”

Page 586:

Oh, gentlemen! you who are engaged in matters of French dramatic art, ponder this seriously. France, with its powers of assimilation, ought not to restrict itself to National Art. She ought to seize upon European Art -cosmopolitan, universal art—bounded in the North by Shakespeare, in the East by Æschylus, in the South by Calderon and in the West by Corneille. It was thus that Augustus, Charlemagne and Napoleon conceived their Empires.

Book review: El Cid by Pierre Corneille, Ranjit Bolt (Translator)


El CidEl Cid by Pierre Corneille
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 3 – Drama on 3:
The story of the 11th century Spanish hero before his rise to fame. Rodrigo is a charming young courtier who plans to marry Ximene. But when her father, the chief general in the King’s army, insults Rodrigo’s father, he promptly finds himself challenged by Rodrigo to a duel. The young suitor, inexperienced in warfare, knows that if he loses he dies. But also that if he wins he loses Ximene. Pierre Corneille’s famous play examines the complex moral and emotional dilemmas faced by the legendary champion-to-be, and his intended.

Translated and adapted by Ranjit Bolt

Directed by Peter Kavanagh

The star-studded cast included James Purefoy as the Cid, with Indira Varma as Ximene, Gina Mc Kee as the Princess, and featuring Eleanor Bron and David Calder.

Pierre Corneille was one of France’s three outstanding Classical dramatists, alongside Racine and Moliere. The Cid is his most famous – but in Britain too little-performed – play.

The distinguished translator Ranjit Bolt’s refashioning tells the story of the younger Cid, a self-indulgent, love-smitten courtier in 11th century Spain who when duty calls rises to the occasion to become Spain’s greatest hero.

It is a tale of love, honour and might, but in the great tradition of Racine and their other contemporary writers of tragedy, Corneille focuses on romantic dilemma, to show how lovers act under intense duress, and what choices – and perhaps compromises – they then make.

Bolt’s translation is at once daring and faithful. He has observed the conventions of 17th century French Drama (rules imposed on his select group of writers by the infamous Cardinal Richelieu, intent on restoring classical virtues). But Bolt in customary fashion has dynamised the language and style.

Featuring Spanish guitar music by, amongst others, Heitor Villa-Lobos.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06vp3c9

A movie was made based on this play: El Cid (1961), directed by Anthony Mann, with Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren, Raf Vallone.

El Cid’s statue may be found in the city of Burgos, in Spain:

The true story of Rodrigo Diaz is told in the epic poem “El cantar de mio Cid” (The Song of my Cid) composed sometime between 1140 and 1207. Date and authorship are still open to debate. More details about this magnificent medieval work (including Rodrigo’s biography) as well as the original Spanish version may be found at Camino Del Cid.

In addition, there is The Route of El Cid which is a cultural and tourist route that crosses Spain from north-west to south-east, following in the steps of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid, the famous 11th-century mediaeval knight. This route is based on “El Cantar de mio Cid”, the great Hispanic mediaeval epic poem written at the end of the 12th or beginning of the 13th century.

A short note should be mentioned about “El Cofre de El Cid” located at Burgos Cathedral: On one wall of the Chapel of Corpus Christi Cathedral of Burgos you can see a bunker known as “the Cofre del Cid.” The story goes that corresponds to the ark with which Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid, endorsed requesting money to pay three hundred knights who accompany him in exile decreed by King Alfonso VI, asking for “borrowed” the Jews Raquel and Vidas de Burgos. Arriving home lenders, he convinced them to accept his deal: money in exchange for a chest containing all his family jewels. The Jews thought they would get a lot more capital than left, so accepted. Rodrigo, after receiving the amount, left the city with his men leaving the Jews with the hood. After opening his surprise he was capitalized. There were no treasures, or jewels, only earth and stones, still too late to claim anything. Another version of the legend that tells how Rodrigo really delivered the chest full of jewels but to the greed of the Jews, they became stones, stones they would become jewelry when he returned to Burgos with enough money to pay their treatment . Whether or not real, the truth is that this story is found in the “Cantar de Mio Cid” as a sign of the trickery employed by Christians with Jews, while others think it was just a way to punish greed lenders.

Some related paintings:


1864 Marcos Giráldez de Acosta’s painting depicting the “Santa Gadea Oath”. In the middle of the scene, Alfonso VI (with red cape) is swearing with his right hand on the Bible that he did not take part in the murder of his brother Sancho II, while El Cid stands as a witness in front of him.


“Daughters of the Cid” by Ignacio Pinazo Diputación, Valencia, Spain Oil on canvas, 1879.

New ebook available @ Project Gutenberg: My Memoirs, Vol V: 1831-1832


My Memoirs, Vol V: 1831-1832My Memoirs, Vol V: 1831-1832 by Alexandre Dumas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: My Memoirs, Vol. V, 1831 to 1832

Author: Alexandre Dumas

Translator: E. M. Waller

Release Date: December 25, 2015 [EBook #50768]

Language: English

Produced by Laura NR & Marc D’Hooghe at http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made available by the Hathi Trust.)

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

The original file was provided by InternetArchive.

Page 38:

Benjamin Constant’s popularity was a strange one, and it would be hard to say upon what it was founded. He
was a Swiss Protestant, and had been brought up in England and Germany. He could speak English, German and French with equal ease; but he composed and wrote in French. He was young, good-looking, strong in body, but weak in character. From the time he set foot in France, Constant did nothing unless under the influence of women: they were his rulers in literature and his guides in politics. He was taken up by three of the most celebrated women of his time; by Madame Tallien, Madame de Beauharnais and Madame de Staël, and he was completely under their influence; the latter, especially, had an immense influence over his life.

Page 251:

Now, was Antony really as immoral a work as certain of the papers made out? No; for, in all things, says an old French proverb (and, since the days of Sancho Panza, we know that proverbs contain the wisdom of nations), we must see the end first before passing judgment. Now, this is how Antony ends. Antony is engaged in a guilty intrigue, is carried away by an adulterous passion, and kills his mistress to save her honour as a wife, and dies afterwards on the scaffold, or at least is sent to the galleys for the rest of his days. Very well, I ask you, are there many young society people who would be disposed to fling themselves into a sinful intrigue, to enter upon an adulterous passion,–to become, in short, Antonys and Adèles, with the prospect in view, at the end of their passion and romance, of death for the woman and of the galleys for the man?
People will answer me, that it is the form in which it is put that is dangerous, that Antony makes murder admirable, and Adèle justifies adultery.

Page 263:

“In the time of Molière, the word truffer was generally used for tromper (i.e. to deceive), from which the word truffe was taken, a word eminently suitable to the kind of eatable it describes, because of the difficulty there is in finding it. Now, it is quite certain that, formerly, people used the words truffe
and tartuffe indiscriminately, for we find it in an old French translation of the treatise by Platina, entitled De konestâ voluptate, printed in Paris in 1505, and quoted by le Duchat,
in his edition of Méntage’s Dictionnaire Étymologique. One of the chapters in Book IX. of this treatise is entitled, Des truffes ou tartuffes, and as le Duchat and other etymologists look upon the word truffe as derived from truffer, it is probable that people said tartuffe for truffe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, just as they could equally say tartuffer for truffer.”

Page 455:

Balzac had published the Peau de chagrin, one of his most irritating productions. Once for all, my estimation of Balzac, both as a man and as an author, is not to be relied upon: as a man, I knew him but little, and what I did know did not rouse in me the least sympathy; as regards his talent, his manner of composition, of creation, of production, were so different from mine, that I am a bad judge of him, and I condemn myself on this head, quite conscious that I can justly be called in question.