Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Still waters run deep
Siddhartha is a philosophical novel about one man’s quest for spiritual enlightenment. The story takes place about 500 BC in India. Siddhartha, the son of a Hindu Brahmin, groomed to become a Brahmin himself, turns his back on the teachings of his father and leaves his village to search for inner peace. He renounces all worldly possessions and joins the samanas, ascetic mendicants who live in the forest. Siddhartha then meets Gotama, the Buddha, but ultimately decides to seek his own path rather than follow the Buddha’s teachings. At this point Siddhartha turns his back on his thoughtful life of fasting and meditation, and begins a worldly life of lust and greed. Though the meaning of life continues to elude Siddhartha, and he finds each new lifestyle to be inadequate to answer his metaphysical questions, along the way he learns something valuable from each stage of his journey, and this accumulation of knowledge and experience advances him step by step on the path towards enlightenment.

Hermann Hesse is a masterful writer who deservedly won the Nobel Prize in 1946. Many of his novels revolve around the quest for knowledge and wisdom, yet all differ greatly in their setting and tone. Siddhartha is written in deceptively simple prose. It reads almost like a fairy tale, yet Hesse’s economy of words masks a rich depth of philosophical insight and spiritual understanding. It is a very short novel, easy to read, and accessible to readers of all levels from junior high to PhD, though the deeper philosphical concepts may escape younger readers. Due to its brevity and the inherent ambiguity in its spiritual subject matter, this novel can be enjoyed again and again, with new discoveries made in each rereading. It provides a good introduction to the philosphy of eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism in particular, though one may also recognize in the text elements from schools of western philosophical thought like pantheism, stoicism, and cynicism (in the Greek sense of the word). But a big part of the message of the novel is that enlightenment cannot be reached by labeling movements or perusing texts. One can only find inner peace by living life, by experiencing. Wisdom can be learned but cannot be taught. For those engaged in their own quest, this book does not provide a treasure map with a big red X where lie all the answers to your metaphysical queries. It’s more like one solitary signpost along a winding path, with a simple arrow pointing the way.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

The Son of the Wolf by Jack London

An auspicious debut
This was Jack London’s first book, a collection of short stories first published in 1900. These nine stories all take place during the Klondike gold rush of 1897. Unusual for a London collection, the tales are all loosely connected by a cast of recurring characters—the inhabitants of Forty Mile, a town in the Yukon Territory. The men of Forty Mile, including Malemute Kid, Sitka Charley, Stanley Prince, and Scruff McKenzie, each speak in their own exaggerated accent and all share a colorful local slang. Their adventures tend to fall into two categories: the town stories and the trail stories. The town stories take place mostly within Forty Mile, and are generally lighter and more humorous in tone. They tend to be less successful, because in many cases the humor hasn’t held up well over the past century. The trail stories take place mostly in the wilderness, on the sled-dog trail, and are usually quite bleak and brutal, detailing the ways in which men, when removed from the comforts of civilization and fighting for their lives against nature and each other, revert to their primitive animalistic natures. These stark tales of the North are what London does best, and they’re still as exciting as they were 100 years ago. 

In “The White Silence,” a freak accident on the trail forces the Malemute Kid to make life-or-death decisions regarding an injured friend and his Indian bride. “In a Far Country” tells the tale of two lazy shirkers who are abandoned by their party and forced to face the harsh consequences of their slothful behavior. “An Odyssey of the North,” the book’s crowning achievement, tells the epic tale of a mysterious Indian and his obsessive quest across half the frozen world. 

As his career went on, London’s skills as a writer developed more and more. Compared to his later work, the execution of these early stories seems a little clumsy, yet there is a satisfying freshness to London’s unbridled enthusiasm for adventure. With the exception of some brief references to the Darwinian themes which would later be fully developed in The Call of the Wild, you won't find any philosophy or politics in this collection. The Son of the Wolf is just pure entertainment and straight-up escapism for the armchair prospector.

Stories in this collection
The White Silence
The Son of the Wolf
The Men of Forty Mile
In a Far Country
To the Man on the Trail
The Priestly Prerogative
The Wisdom of the Trail
The Wife of a King
An Odyssey of the North

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

Every sentence an aphorism
Although not the most original philosopher to ever bear the designation of Stoic, Seneca is most likely the best writer that school ever produced. His works are far more accessible to the general reader than the more analytical writings of Epictetus or even the more personal reflections of Marcus Aurelius. Seneca had a true gift with words, which when brought out by a skilled translator results in beautiful, inspirational prose. The translation by Robin Campbell in the Penguin Classics edition is excellent; the book reads like butter. Some of Seneca’s contemporary critics complained that every line he wrote was a motto, and they were not far from the truth. Almost every sentence in this book could be singled out and quoted as “words to live by.”

The basic message of Stoicism that Seneca presents here is profound and vital. The key to a happy life is to live in accordance with nature. This is accomplished by training yourself not to desire more than you have and to learn to be content with what comes to you. Govern your emotions with reason, resign yourself to fate, and free yourself from the attachments of your desires. This includes not only the extravagance with which society distracts us from nature, or the obviously harmful excesses of food and drink, but even the attachment to your own life. Only by conquering your fear of death can you experience true freedom and live a life of quality.

While Seneca states the basic concepts of Stoicism in clear and engaging language, he doesn’t offer much original thought here. For those deeply interested in Stoic philosophy, these works may act as a supplement to those of Epictetus, but they are certainly no substitute. Even comparing them to Seneca’s own works, these letters do not measure up to his deeper dialogues and essays. An obvious problem, common to many Stoic works, is the lack of organization and haphazard hopping from one subject to the next, which precludes an in-depth investigation into any particular topic. Another problem is the frequent digression from philosophical instruction. Oftentimes Seneca avoids specific philosophical ideas and merely sounds off generally on the value of philosophy (by which he means Stoicism) in improving people’s lives. Many of the letters are light on philosophy altogether, but do have historical value. For example, Seneca gives us an insider’s glimpse into aspects of Roman life such as the gladiatorial games and slavery, and relates interesting anecdotes about Socrates, Cato, and various Emperors. Although all the digressions are filtered through Seneca’s uniquely Stoic lens, I found some of the wanderings too far afield for my liking. Though I enjoyed the 42 letters that Campbell has collected here, I can’t say I’m eager to get my hands on a complete edition of the 124 letters any time soon.

Despite my reservations, any Stoic text is an important text, Seneca’s more than most. The ancient wisdom is invaluable, and Penguin has done it justice in this volume.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

La Curée (The Kill) by Emile Zola

The world’s greatest author’s worst book
First of all, let me say that I love the work of Émile Zola. I have read all twenty novels in the Rougon-Macquart saga, and I have to say that in my opinion this is the worst book in the series. The plot revolves around a love triangle between Aristide Saccard (born Aristide Rougon), his second wife Renée, and his son Maxime by his previous marriage. The story takes place in Paris, as Saccard is undertaking a series of shady dealings to amass his fortune. I’ve always felt that Zola’s brand of Naturalism, with its hyper-realistic accumulation of sensory detail, works better when he’s dealing with the lower classes than with rich Parisians. In this book his observational thoroughness takes the form of long detailed descriptions of elegant dinner parties and lavishly furnished mansions. All this opulence goes to illustrate the pervasive greed and decadence of the times, but its still rather dull to read through. I imagine the love triangle itself had some shock value for readers of its time, but not so for today’s audience. It’s hard to take an active interest in any of the three main characters, since they are all so unlikeable. By unlikeable I don’t just mean that they’re morally reprehensible; they’re also not very interesting. Renée is prone to tedious histrionics. Maxime is an ineffectual bore. Saccard is by far the most interesting of the three, but Zola doesn’t give him as much ink as the other two. Zola develops the Saccard character much more fully in the far better novel entitled Money (L’Argent). French history enthusiasts will be interested in Saccard’s financial endeavors. At a time when Napoleon III and Baron Hausmann are tearing down neighborhoods to make way for grand boulevards, Saccard uses insider information and a knack for wheeling and dealing to profit from all the destruction. I think this novel should only be read by those completists who want to read the entire Rougon-Macquart cycle. For anyone else, there are so many other far-better Zola books (Germinal, The Earth, L’Assomoir, The Debacle, Pot-Bouille, to name a few); don’t waste your time on this one.

Monday, February 20, 2012

McTeague by Frank Norris

American Zola
Frank Norris was a great American novelist who unfortunately only produced a handful of novels before his untimely death. McTeague is one of his earliest works, first published in 1899. Norris’s writing was heavily influenced by the works of Emile Zola, and its hard to imagine a faithful student offering a more blatant homage to his master. At times McTeague reads like the end result of a Zola sabbatical to San Francisco. Add a gritty dash of Jack London’s California adventure stories, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the style of this book. 

It’s hard to summarize the plot of McTeague without spoiling the surprises, so I’ll say very little about it. McTeague is a big, stupid dentist (Norris uses the word “stupid” at least twenty times in describing the character) who resides and practices his trade on Polk Street, in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in San Francisco. He shares an apartment building with a likeable assortment of misfits, including his pal Marcus Schouler, a conceited, hot-headed veterinarian’s assistant; Miss Baker and Old Grannis, two unmarried senior citizens who are secretly in love with each other; and Maria Macapa, the nutty housekeeper who may be heiress to a Central American fortune. Norris draws the reader into their world, vividly detailing their habits, mannerisms, and aspirations, until it becomes a pleasure to just hang out with these characters, regardless of where the plot leads. From amongst their lovable quirks, however, disturbing faults begin to emerge. The underlying theme of the novel is greed, and several characters exhibit the deadly sin, each in his or her own unique manifestation. Yet these are not stereotypical thieves and misers we’re talking about here, but regular people with realistic human shortcomings. As the result of a series of unforeseen circumstances, about halfway through the book things start to get dark—real dark—and you find yourself wondering how you ever got mixed up with this bunch of psychos. Norris skillfully orchestrates this gradual darkening of tone, so that the reader scarcely realizes when this pleasant tale of a goofy dentist and his love life has turned into a tense and suspenseful thriller. The ending of McTeague will seem familiar, because it’s been stolen by several movies, but as penned by Norris it’s more fresh and surprising than any of the latter-day rehashes.

Soon after completing this work Frank Norris would go on to publish his masterpiece The Octopus, a great work of literature and a truly American epic. While I don’t think it quite measures up to the standard of that later book, McTeague is an expertly crafted novel by a master writer, an entertaining page-turner from beginning to end, and an insightful examination of the destructive effects of avarice on the human psyche.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Les Chouans by Honoré de Balzac

A spy thriller full of surprises
Les Chouans is one of Balzac’s earlier works and is often referred to as the book that made him famous. Following the French Revolution of 1793, some of the citizens of Brittany, out of loyalty to the former monarchy and to their Catholic faith, refused to accept the secular Republican government and rose up in an attempt to overthrow it. These royalist rebels were known as the Chouans. This novel takes place in Brittany in 1799, mostly in the town of Fougères and its environs. The handsome young leader of the rebellion meets a beautiful, mysterious young woman. Over the course of having lunch together, the two fall in love to the point of being willing to risk their lives for one another, even though neither is ever certain where the other’s loyalties lie. If you can suspend enough disbelief to get past that, then this book is a great ride. It’s got guerrilla warfare, political intrigue, espionage, and a romance worthy of Shakespeare, all set within beautiful descriptions of the Breton countryside. Balzac’s writing combines Emile Zola’s attention to descriptive detail and keen insight into human nature with Alexandre Dumas’ ability to construct an intricate plot peopled with an interesting collection of disparate characters. The book crawls a little bit in the middle, but the beginning and the end are fast-paced and suspenseful. The third act in particular is very skillfully written with a lot of twists and turns. Balzac keeps the reader guessing every step of the way as to what’s going to happen next, right up to the very end.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Los de Abajo (The Underdogs) by Mariano Azuela

Deserves a better translation
Los de Abajo is generally considered to be the greatest novel of the Mexican Revolution. Written by Mariano Azuela, who served as a doctor in Pancho Villa’s army, it was first published in 1915. It relates the adventures of a group of rebels under the leadership of Demetrio Macías, a peasant farmer who unintentionally becomes a revolutionary after drawing the ire of the local police chief. His motley band of peasant fighters is joined by Luis Cervantes, an educated young man of the city who becomes Demetrio’s trusted advisor. Cervantes enters the war as an idealist, but soon becomes a shrewd opportunist, scheming to advance Demetrio’s military career while seeking out lucrative opportunities for looting. The troop drifts around the countryside, serving various commanders, with little concern for whom they’re fighting as long as they keep on fighting. Violence is not reserved for battle but dealt indiscriminately to soldier and civilian alike. Every character in the book acts in his own self interest. Revolutionary ideals are only invoked for the purposes of sarcasm or self-aggrandizement. One can sense that Azuela actually believes in these ideals, but saw little actualization of them during his service in the war. His disillusionment is palpable throughout the novel. On the other hand, he does glorify the revolutionaries for their recklessness and roguishness, much in the way that antiheroes are glorified in American westerns like The Wild Bunch. The plot of Los de Abajo is just as wayward as the wandering soldiers it follows. The book is more a collection of loosely connected scenes than a linear narrative, but they are incredibly vivid scenes that encapsulate the atmosphere of the revolution with stark and visceral immediacy. Los de Abajo is not a typical war novel, just as the Mexican Revolution was not a typical war. The beauty of this novel is that while it captures the uniqueness of this particular conflict, it also stands as a universal testament to the pointlessness of war, regardless of time or place.

Though the work may be of estimable quality, the translation by E. Munguia Jr. negatively effected my appreciation of it. A while back I tried reading Los de Abajo in Spanish, but the 100-year old vocabulary made it slow going for someone of my mediocre skills in that language, so I decided to read this English translation instead. Despite the fact that English is my first language, in several instances I had to refer back to the Spanish edition just to figure out what the English version was trying to say. For example, in one passage about a soldier’s bandaged leg, the word “ligatures” (ligaduras) is translated as “ligaments” (ligamentos), which doesn’t make any sense at all. Also, I don’t know if it’s the fault of Azuela or Munguia, but there are an awful lot of pronouns in this book just begging for an antecedent. I felt like I was constantly reading backwards two or three paragraphs to figure out which “he” was being referred to. Los de Abajo may very well deserve the accolades it receives in its home country, but I can’t say for sure after reading the free Kindle edition from Amazon. I feel like in order to really read this novel I now have to go out and find another edition entirely.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

The ultimate dysfunctional family
It’s unfortunate that Wuthering Heights often gets lumped into the category of Victorian chick lit, because it probably has more in common with Dickens or Balzac than with Jane Austen. The various film adaptations often make much of the love between Heathcliff and Catherine, but that doesn’t begin to cover the scope of this book. Wuthering Heights is no conventional romance novel. It is in fact an epic examination of human wickedness involving an ensemble cast that spans two generations over the course of almost 50 years. Filled with powerful imagery and unforgettable characters, it makes for a profoundly entertaining read.

Heathcliff, a gypsy-looking street urchin from Liverpool, is adopted by the Earnshaw family, who live 
among the moors of northern England at the secluded estate of Wuthering Heights. Mr. Earnshaw treats Heathcliff as his favorite, much to the consternation of his eldest son Hindley. When the father dies, Hindley seizes the opportunity to retaliate against Heathcliff, revoking his favored family position and forcing him to labor in the fields. Meanwhile, Heathcliff and his adopted sister Catherine develop a love for each other, but due to his servant status, dirty boots, and surly demeanor, she spurns him for her more elegant and refined neighbor Edgar Linton. Heathcliff resolves to revenge himself upon all who have hurt him, and the following generation of Earnshaws, Lintons, and Heathcliffs must also suffer the repercussions of his passionate vengeance.

The joy of Wuthering Heights is that there isn’t a single character in the book who could be described as a good person. They are all at best selfish and petty, at worst deplorably evil. All are set on destroying each other, not through murder or violence, but by making each other’s lives a living hell until one by one they gradually drop dead of sorrow or destitution. Emily Brontë’s unrelenting audacity in depicting the cruelest, basest aspects of humanity is so refreshing it’s a joy to read. Yet over and above its sensationalistic pleasures, Wuthering Heights is undeniably a meaningful piece of literature with an intricately constructed plot and keen insights into human nature. It offers important lessons on the poisoning effects of resentment and vengeance upon the soul, as well as the resilience of the human spirit to rise above adversity and degradation.

The one drawback of Wuthering Heights is its narrative voice, as told through the perspective of a visitor, Mr. Lockwood, which results in some rather convoluted constructions (Lockwood says that Nelly said that Cathy read in a letter that Linton wrote that Heathcliff told Hareton . . . ). The story would have been better served by a third-person omniscient perspective. Nevertheless, Wuthering Heights deserves its renown as a classic of English literature. It’s a shame this is the only novel Emily Brontë ever finished. Let the chick-lit label be damned; real men read Wuthering Heights too!
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Friday, February 10, 2012

White Fang by Jack London

Promising start, unforgivable finish
With the publication of White Fang in 1906, Jack London wisely capitalized on the great success of his previous novel The Call of the Wild. These two books can be considered companion volumes, and are often bundled into one volume, since they both feature a canine protagonist. The plots of the two novels are parallel, though inverted. The Call of the Wild tells the tale of a domesticated dog’s gradual transformation into a wild animal. In White Fang, a wolf-dog born in the wild makes the opposite journey from savage to tame. Despite the kinship between the two novels, White Fang does not possess the emotional resonance, philosophical depth, or literary excellence of The Call of the Wild. Had it not ridden upon the coat tails of its predecessor, this book would likely have disappeared from print like many of London’s lesser-known works.

The narrative of White Fang begins before the birth of the title dog, with the mating of his parents. The resulting pup, 3/4 wolf and 1/4 domestic dog, is born amid the harsh wilderness of the North. He spends his puppyhood learning the ways of the wolf, until an encounter with a Native American encampment introduces him to the world of man. The first dozen chapters or so read not so much as a novel but more like an essay on natural history. London vividly describes the behaviors of wolves with scientific clarity, all told through the eyes of the young wolf cub. The first half of White Fang presents some of London’s most vividly naturalistic writing, crammed with painstakingly detailed descriptions of natural processes, all expressed in beautiful prose. The plot is exciting and leads the reader down unexpectedly savage and brutal paths. As the book continues and White Fang becomes more and more domesticated, however, the story becomes less and less interesting. The further the narrative departs from the wild, the less it grandly propounds upon the universal fatalistic beauty of nature’s order, and the more it devolves into just another adventure story about a dog.

The book peaks at about its middle, then progressively goes steadily downhill, then it just plain falls off a cliff. The final chapter of White Fang is absolutely horrible. It is so far removed from the rest of the book that it totally betrays the integrity of everything that came before it. It’s as if London couldn’t think of a way to finish the book, so he just tacked a short story onto the end, and not a particularly good short story at that. London creates a totally new character, not previously mentioned in the book, because he needs some device upon which to build a melodrama. The last chapter totally abandons the naturalistic tone of the novel and replaces it with the feeling of a sensationalistic soap opera.

I’ve read most of London’s works and, in case you couldn’t tell from the previous paragraph, this is not one of my favorites, but it does have its merits. The first half shines with occasional moments of brilliance, and is quite worthy of reading. If you haven't read The Call of the Wild, I would strongly suggest you read that first or instead. Only if you really enjoy that book would I suggest you seek out White Fang, and then don’t be surprised if you find it disappointing.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Fortune of the Rougons by Emile Zola

Well worth reading
Portrait of Emile Zola
by Edouard Manet
This book is the first novel in Zola’s twenty-novel masterpiece, the Rougon-Macquart cycle. Like all the books in the series, this one stands alone as a self-contained novel. It will be especially enjoyable, however, to those who have read some of the other books in this series, as many of the characters introduced in this book go on to “star” in their own novels. The story takes place in the fictional town of Plassans, based on Zola’s hometown of Aix-en-Provence. Zola begins the book by sketching the layout of the town, and its history, and then goes on to outline the first three generations of the Rougon-Macquart family tree. Because of the many characters introduced in this novel, there is no one main protagonist, but rather a series of intertwining story lines. These story lines range in tone from a biting cynical realism to an almost Victor Hugo-esque romanticism. The book takes place at the time of the coup d’etat in Paris which began the Second Empire under Napoleon III. At that time, various factions were competing for the throne of France—the Royalists, the Republicans, the Bonapartists. The citizens of Plassans, who only receive news from Paris through second-hand rumors, are choosing which side they are on as they await the outcome of the political upheaval in the capital. Their choices are based not so much on their political convictions, but rather on who they think will end up victorious. Everyone wants to be on the winning side of the battle so they can reap the political, financial, and social rewards once the smoke clears. What results is an in-depth study of the motivations of several fascinating characters, and a powerful meditation on ambition. How far is one willing to go to secure greater wealth and status for himself and his family? Is there a place for selfless conviction or heroism in a society based on such selfish concerns? Zola tackles these serious issues, while managing to inject a bit of humor into the proceedings as well. Fans of Zola’s better-known works will certainly enjoy this novel, but it can also be read and appreciated by those who are not familiar with Zola’s work at all. 
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Life of a Painter by Gino Severini

An insider’s look into the world of modern art
This book is neither a picture book nor a manifesto. It’s a well-written artist’s autobiography, something that is unfortunately quite rare. Severini is not a household name today, but he was a major player in the Paris art world of the early twentieth century. Best known as a Futurist painter, he describes himself as a reluctant member of that movement, and he dabbled in several “isms” over the course of his career. His close personal friends included Picasso, Braque, Gris, Modigliani, Apollinaire, and Cocteau. His acquaintances included just about every famous modern artist in Paris, Rome, and Milan, as well as many you’ve never heard of. His greatest achievement in this book is to diagram, by means of personal anecdotes, the motivations and theoretical concepts of all these artists and their movements, how they influenced one another and how they contributed to the growing, shifting entity that was “modern art.” 

In addition to painting, he includes literature, theatre, music, and architecture in his scope. Along the way, he gives vivid descriptions of the bohemian cafe life of Paris, and the occupational hardships of a (sometimes literally) starving artist. There’s also some fascinating stuff about the business side of art—working with galleries, dealers, and clients—at a period in history when, much to the chagrin of the author, art started to become less about craft and more and more about commerce. Sometimes when talking about his own work, the author’s prose devolves into unintelligible artspeak, though that may be the fault of the translator. Severini is much more knowledgeable about poetry and philosophy than I am, so some of his discussions in those areas were way over my head. Such passages are brief, however, and 90% of the book was enjoyable and informative. I’m not a huge fan of Severini’s painting, but his book pleasantly surprised me.
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Peasants by Wladyslaw Reymont

The unknown masterpiece
Despite winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924, few Americans have heard Reymont’s name, much less read his work. That’s unfortunate, because this novel truly deserves a spot in the canon of world literature. It chronicles the lives of Polish peasants in the town of Lipka over the course of one year. The Peasants (Polish title: Chlopi) was published in four volumes: Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer. The four volumes must be read together, in order; they do not stand alone as individual books.

Mathias Boryna, the most prosperous farmer in Lipka, is getting on in years. His adult children want him to retire and hand the family land over to them. Boryna, on the other hand, still considers himself hale and hearty and decides to remarry to a young bride, much to the chagrin of his offspring. Complicating matters is the fact that Yagna, his new wife, is the most beautiful girl in the village, and she’s had a promiscuous past, including an affair with Boryna’s son Antek.

In subject matter this book bears some similarity to Emile Zola’s novel The Earth, and Reymont’s writing bears a striking resemblance to Zola’s brand of Naturalism as well. While many early 20th-century novelists were influenced by Zola, Reymont is the first I’ve come across that actually rivals the master himself. While I have read that this novel is set in the early years of the 20th century, it is really a timeless story, taking place in an indeterminate age. The only hint of temporal specificity is the fact that Lipka, at the time of the story, is under Russian rule. For the most part it deals with everyday issues of family life and community that transcend any particular time and place. You don’t have to know anything about Polish history to read this novel. It does not discuss any major historical or political events. You will, however, learn much about the customs, superstitions, farming practices, living conditions, and religious rituals of rural life in Poland. Reymont populates Lipka with so many complex characters and intertwining storylines that it surpasses William Falkner’s Yoknapatawpha County in its richness of detail and the completeness of its depiction of country life. You become so involved in the lives of these characters that by the time you get to the fourth volume you feel as if you’re ready to get behind the plow or vote in the local elections. This book is long out of print, but for lovers of great literature it’s definitely worth a search online or a trip to your local university library. (This review is based on the English translation by Michael H. Dziewicki.)

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