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books o2o - o23.

( roland barthes par roland barthes. )
After reading Roland Barthes's A Lover's Discourse: Fragments, I decided I'd like to learn more about him. He published his autobiography, Roland Barthes, in 1975, and it was translated from French to English by Richard Howard, and this edition was published in 1977.

Here's an editorial I found on www.bn.com: "Barthes par Barthes is a genuinely post-modern autobiography, an innovation in the art of autobiography comparable in its theoretical implications for our understanding of autobiography to Sartre's The Words." --Hayden White, University of California

I have a hard time describing the book, because it had its interesting moments. Had Barthes written all over it, though. Switching lightly from 'he' to 'I' and using fragments that I am acquainted with from his previous work. There was no order to the fragments, or so he says. I also really enjoyed the pictures of himself, his family, and his past.

Genre : Autobiography, post-modern, non-fiction.
Length : 181 pages.
Rating : 3/5 = Worth the read.

( roland barthes by johnathan culler. )
I also read Roland Barthes by Jonathan Culler. Culler published this book in 1983 and actually published Barthes: A Very Short Introduction in 2002, which I am sure my library does not have. Which is a pity, since I would like to read it. This book is not entirely a biography in the traditional sense, but Barthes is far from traditional. I found this to be a brilliant resource when trying to understand how Barthes writes and thinks, and I'm pretty sure I would have felt more comfortable reading the aforementioned book with the knowledge I've gained from this one. Given Culler's knowledge and extensive publishing on Barthes and other similar individuals, I found this to be a necessary read in regards to learning more about Barthes.

Here is an editorial as found on www.bn.com, in regards to Culler's 2002 book. I find it just as fitting here: "Roland Barthes was the leading figure of French Structuralism, the theoretical movement of the 1960s which revolutionized the study of literature and culture, as well as history and psychoanalysis. But Barthes was a man who disliked orthodoxies. His shifting positions and theoretical interests make him hard to grasp and assess. This book surveys Barthes' work in clear, accessible prose, highlighting what is most interesting and important in his work today. In particular, the book describes the many projects, which Barthes explored and which helped to change the way we think about a range of cultural phenomena--from literature, fashion, wrestling, and advertising to notions of the self, of history, and of nature."

Genre : Non-fiction, literary criticism.
Length : 124 pages and some change.
Rating : 4/5 = Pretty darn good.

( living with a pug, edited by alison mount. )
Umm there's really not much to say about this one. I have been interested in getting a Pug for a little while, and I was presented with this book by a friend (also, it was about $20 off at Barnes & Noble. While this is not the end-all authority on Pugs (nor does it claim to be), I have found it very informative in my quest to learn more about the breed.

Inside are lots of techniques and helpful information about how to choose a pug, what to expect from breeders, how to Pug-proof your house, how to teach lessons and socialize, and how to see to their health. It was published in 2003 and talks about distinctions between the UK and North America in terms of vaccinations and Kennel clubs, and there is also a training DVD in the book. Also there are lots of adorable pictures. And I am counting this as a book I've read. So there we are.

Genre : Non-fiction, informative, dogs.
Length : 128 pages.
Rating : 4/5 = Pretty darn good.

( the sorrows of young werther and selected writings by johann wolfgang von goethe. )
Somewhat intrigued by Barthes's fondness for this book, I decided to give it a read. The copy I picked up from the library was especially helpful. Goethe first wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther in 1774 (apparently in four weeks, by his account). He modified his work, and the work that my book is translated from was from 1787. Catherine Hutter translated the text from German to English, and this book was published in 1962, with a foreword by Hermann J. Weigand, who seems very qualified to be given such a task.

I knew the storyline prior to reading the book, so the translator's opinion was strange to me, given that she seemed to find the tale uplifting instead of strange and/or depressing (as things involving suicide tend to have that effect, I think). Werther is partially autobiographical, so the foreword was helpful in connecting details. The text is mostly in the form of letters from Werther to his friend William, though it's also made apparent that some are entries in a journal, while others are the words of an editor who is compiling all the paperwork. I think at times it is an uplifting little story, and you can't help but sympathize with at least one character. I personally find it amazing to also know about how historical this book is, how people wanted it banned, how people were sort of encouraged to commit suicide, and how fashionable it became to go around in a blue jacket with a yellow waistcoat and breeches.

The Barnes & Noble synopsis: "Tragic masterpiece explores mind of an artist in alternately joyful and despairing letters recounting an unhappy romance. Goethe addresses issues of love, death, and redemption in an influential portrayal of a character who struggles to reconcile his artistic sensibilities with the demands of the objective world."

My book included some other bits, such as excerpts from Goethe's My Life: Poetry and Truth, which were informative and entertaining, and two short stories: The New Melusina and The Fairy Tale, both of which were fun and light-hearted.

Genre : Fiction.
Length : 104 pages for Werther; 250 pages total.
Rating : 5/5 = Would read it over and over again.

Currently reading : On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (which is pretty good so far), and I'll be taking on the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Happy reading!


( 2 pithy comments — Say something pithy! )
Jun. 24th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
King's writing book is a really good one; I expected to hate it when I picked it up because I don't really care for his novels, but I was pleasantly surprised. If you like books on writing, might I recommend Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Very funny, poignant, and helpful.
Jun. 24th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
I haven't read any of his work before, though I'd like to try it at some point. This book was mentioned often enough for me to be interested. Thank you for the recommendation! I will certainly check it out.
( 2 pithy comments — Say something pithy! )



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