Favorite Books & Authors
Here are some of my favorite books and authors. Painfully aware of my limitations, I have decided to write about them in summary form, rather than try for intelligent, critical reviews. Many of the books I plan to talk about over the coming weeks, months, and years are titles from my own collection, the bulk of which resides in a sturdy bookshelf made by my brother and me long ago in a night woodshop class. Some were given to me for safekeeping by my mother, who, bless her heart, has since given up on their return. Most can still be found in libraries, used bookstores, or purchased online. All are important to me, and have to some measure, I suspect, influenced my own work. If not, they continue to remind me of the great opportunity and responsibility a writer has, each and every time he sits down to work, to see himself and life more clearly, and to communicate what he sees to others. That much said, I hope you enjoy this rather haphazard section of the website. Your comments are most welcome. Please check in often for new material.
For quicker access to the books and authors included so far, choose from the following links. Related excerpts and other information can be found on the right side of the page.
The Rub�iy�t of Omar Khayy�m Alexander Pushkin Nathaniel Hawthorne
This Is My Best Honor� de Balzac The Giant Book of Scottish Short Stories
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Webmaster�s Reading List
Doctor Zhivago The Adolescent Look Homeward, Angel Peer Gynt
More Saroyan The Grapes of Wrath Tristram Shandy Cannery Row
Life on the Mississippi Letters from the Earth Ulysses Zorba the Greek
Finnegans Wake In Watermelon Sugar Bound for Glory
Related Notebook Entries
The Reader�s Encyclopedia Yevgeny Zamyatin Humboldt�s Gift
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
A Random Selection of Books and Authors
And I Quote
A Compendium of Odd Words and Literary References
You Don�t Say
Kilmarnock wabsters, fidge and claw
Robert Burns: A Glossary of Scottish Terms
More books, poetry, notes & marginalia
Recently Banned Literature
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and Other Stories
This is Saroyan�s debut collection of short stories, published in 1934 to wide critical acclaim. Written when the author was twenty-six, it is still considered by many to be the best fiction he wrote. While this is surely open to debate, there is no question that Saroyan�s spontaneous style changed the American short story forever, and for the better. His portrayal of life on the poor side of the tracks was accurate, heartfelt, sympathetic, optimistic, defiant, and poetic. This book should be read by anyone interested in the short story form, and should be required reading for teachers and students of writing alike.
My Name Is Aram
The Human Comedy
Guy de Maupassant
Maupassant was born in Normandy in 1850. Guided in his early efforts by French writer Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary), his first story to appear in print was �Ball of Fat,� published to huge critical acclaim in 1880 by Emile Zola (The Earth, Germinal, L�Assommoir). During the next eleven years, he published some 300 stories and 6 novels, as well as essays, poems, travelogues, and critical articles. Plagued by increasing mental instability brought on by syphilis, he was hospitalized for the last two years of his life. He died insane in 1893.
Maupassant was a keen observer who gave himself to living without reservation. Often, in one paragraph, he revealed more about a character than many other writers accomplish in an entire book. Take a look at the following few lines, from his story �Waiter, A Bock�:
. . . So I went and sat down by the side of a man who seemed to me to be old, and who smoked a half-penny clay pipe, which had become as black as coal. From six to eight beer saucers were piled up on the table in front of him, indicating the number of �bocks� he had already absorbed. With that same glance I had recognized in him a �regular toper,� one of those frequenters of beer-houses, who come in the morning as soon as the place is open, and only go away in the evening when it is about to close. He was dirty, bald to about the middle of the cranium, while his long gray hair fell over the neck of his frock coat. His clothes, much too large for him, appeared to have been made for him at a time when he was very stout. One could guess that his pantaloons were not held up by braces, and that this man could not take ten paces without having to pull them up and readjust them. Did he wear a vest? The mere thought of his boots and the feet they enveloped filled me with horror. The frayed cuffs were as black at the edges as were his nails. . . .
Soon after making these observations, the narrator is addressed by the man he has just described, and discovers he is an old friend from college. How the man arrived at his current state of disintegration constitutes the rest of the story, which hinges on a terrible domestic scene his friend witnessed as a child.
Maupassant was also adept at making use of current headlines, turning many news stories of his day into works of fiction. In story after story, he exposed the hypocrisy of the powerful in a way that makes the reader hate them and love them at the same time. He excels equally in his portrayal of the simple and downtrodden, the wayfarer and the wage earner, the rural and urban. All of this is accomplished in a flowing, poetic style.
Another benefit of reading Maupassant�s stories, as well as his novels, which I�ll also write about as we go along, is their historical value. A great deal can be learned about the time and society in which he lived � practical, everyday matters, as well as people�s outlook on life. It is also possible to trace the author�s encroaching madness, as some of his narratives take on an almost desperate quality of self-searching and self-justification. It is worth a trip to the library to see biographies containing photographs taken of this great writer when he was handsome, robust, and athletic, and when, just a few short years later, he was thin and drawn, his talent sacrificed to his disease.
If you haven�t read any of Guy de Maupassant�s stories, don�t wait any longer. Read �Waiter, a Bock.� Read �Ball of Fat.� Read �A Piece of String.� Read �The Inn,� �A Family,� �A Vagabond,� and �Simon�s Papa.� These are just a few stories, taken at random. There are many more that are worth your time. And while the style isn�t exactly twenty-first century, the predicaments and concerns of his characters are often painfully contemporary.
The Rub�iy�t of Omar Khayy�m
Pushkin was born in 1799 in Moscow. He died in 1837, two days after being wounded in a duel with the husband of his wife�s sister. According to an anonymous letter, Pushkin�s in-law was guilty of having a rendezvous with Pushkin�s wife, Natalie. The poet�s short time on this earth was enough to secure him a place of high honor in the pantheon of Russia�s great writers. He lived a reckless life and was a constant concern to the state, which found it necessary to read his incoming and outgoing mail and censor what he wrote. He loved women, he loved nature, he loved literature, he loved to gamble, and he had little patience when it came to politics or business affairs. On several occasions he begged to leave Russia, but to no avail. Instead, his movement was restricted and he was closely watched.
Above all, Pushkin is remembered as a poet. He wrote many lyrics and ballads, and is best known for his narrative poems, �The Bronze Horseman� and �Eugene Onegin.� He also wrote folk tales (�The Tale of the Golden Cockerel,� the basis of an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov); plays (�Boris Godunov,� �Mozart and Salieri,� �The Stone Guest�); and prose (�The Tales of Belkin,� �The Queen of Spades,� �The Captain�s Daughter�). Written in 1833-4, �The Queen of Spades� is considered a humble ancestor of Dostoevsky�s Crime and Punishment. �The Captain�s Daughter,� practically the last thing he wrote, was, according to Tolstoy, Pushkin�s greatest achievement.
The following poem, �Remembrance,� was written by an already world-weary Pushkin in 1828. The translation is by Babette Deutsch.
When noisy day no more assails the ears of men,
. . . There is more to be said about this inner monologue which played such an important part in his life and work. In one sense it was a dialogue, since Hawthorne seems to have divided himself into two personalities while dreaming out his stories: one was the storyteller and the other the audience. The storyteller uttered his stream of silent words; the audience listened and applauded by a sort of inner glow, or criticized by means of an invisible frown that seemed to say, �But I don�t understand.� �Let me go over it again,� the storyteller would answer, still soundlessly; and then he would repeat his tale in clearer language, with more details, and perhaps repeat the doubtful passages again and again, till he was sure the invisible listener would understand. . . .
Nathaniel Hawthorne, best know for his novel The Scarlet Letter, was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. He died in 1864, in Plymouth, New Hampshire. He wrote several romances (The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, The Marble Faun, The Dolliver Romance); and a number of tales (�An Old Woman�s Tale,� �Feathertop,� �Rappacini�s Daughter,� �The Celestial Railroad,� �Ethan Brand�). He also filled many notebooks and penned many revealing letters, examples of which are included in this volume.
If you are new to Hawthorne, don�t try to read him in short bursts. It takes time to appreciate his pace and style, which, once you are in tune, is very much like taking a leisurely walk with him through the woods. The details and observations are important. He wants you to see, to feel, to notice. So be patient. You will be impressed by his symbolism, and caught up in his still pertinent themes of loneliness and alienation.
The following excerpt is from The Scarlet Letter, his Puritan-based story of adultery, defiance, and shame:
. . . Discerning the impracticable state of the poor culprit�s mind, the elder clergyman, who had carefully prepared himself for the occasion, addressed to the multitude a discourse on sin, in all its branches, but with continual reference to the ignominious letter. So forcibly did he dwell upon this symbol, for the hour or more during which his periods were rolling over the people�s heads, that it assumed new terrors in their imagination, and seemed to derive its scarlet hue from the flames of the infernal pit. Hester Prynne, meanwhile, kept her place upon the pedestal of shame, with glazed eyes, and an air of weary indifference. She had borne, that morning, all that nature could endure; and as her temperament was not of the order that escapes from too intense suffering by a swoon, her spirit could only shelter itself beneath a stony crust of insensibility, while the faculties of animal life remained entire. In this state, the voice of the preacher thundered remorselessly, but unavailingly, upon her ears. . . .
This Is My Best
As a sampler of diverse talent, a book like this is hard to beat. There are stories by Theodore Dreiser, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Morley Callaghan, Willa Cather, Dorothy Parker, Erskine Caldwell, William Faulkner, Katherine Ann Porter, and Booth Tarkington, just to name a few. There are poems by Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Carlos Williams, and Marianne Moore. There are novel excerpts, several essays, and excerpts from biographies about Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Beethoven. Drama is represented by Robert E. Sherwood, Eugene O�Neill, Thornton Wilder, and Clifford Odets. There is even a preface by William Saroyan, who confidently states that his is �a lucky piece, as Saroyan is a lucky writer,� and then, �I doubt you will find a luckier piece in this whole book.� The preface he chose was to �Hello Out There,� a one-act play he dedicated to George Bernard Shaw.
The following excerpt from Whit Burnett�s introduction gives an idea of what This Is My Best accomplishes:
. . . In no small, single way, this book is America. America in its many moods, its various colors, its many aspects. It is the New England of Frost and Coffin and Mary Ellen Chase; and the South of Glasgow, Stuart, Rawlings and Faulkner; the Middle West of Tarkington and Ade; and the Far West of Steinbeck�s old pioneer, stopped and baffled forever at the Pacific Ocean and the end of the frontier, in a later day. It is dinner with the Babbitts, a scared Negro washerwoman in Mississippi, the stockyards of Chicago. It is a preface to a Saroyan fantasy, an editor in Kansas writing an editorial on the death of his daughter and projecting a wisp of a girl into a kind of immortality. . . . It is another side, less lovely, but exerting its power always throughout the land, the America of the jungle, of wasted lives and lost illusion; it is America Was Promises, the American Dream, and contrastingly it is Studs and Bigger in the black slums of Chicago. . . .
If I live long enough, I�ll probably get around to writing a little about some of the individual writers and pieces in this book. For now, I am content to be overwhelmed by such a large collection of good writing, and authors so worthy of further investigation.
Honor� de Balzac
. . . Balzac may indeed have distinguished himself as a �secretary� of society, but he was also a great creative artist, and from his study of contemporary society emerged, not a mere copy of the world around him, but a new world which may appropriately be called �Balzacian�: a vividly striking world, teeming with extraordinarily vital and energetic people, impressively real from one point of view, but so heightened and dramatized, so metamorphosed that it is difficult to say at what moment reality is transcended and imagination takes control. . . .
This is truly an understatement. Balzac�s frantic pace of living, keen power of observation, and exhaustive knowledge of almost any subject make reading his work feel like one has been caught in a literary whirlwind. At one moment, his vigorous narration (often directed at the reader) reveals a character�s appearance, thoughts, and motivation; at the next he is off on a fascinating history of printing and paper-making, or a scalding condemnation of the devious world of journalism and newspaper publishing. That he personally tried his hand at these various enterprises (and failed, like so many of his characters) adds depth and verisimilitude.
If I remember correctly, Balzac wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred novels, most of which he gathered under the general title The Human Comedy. According to Herbert J. Hunt�s introduction to Lost Illusions, it was Balzac�s idea to present the social and moral history of his times in a series of novels and short stories that would also include his interpretation of life and society as he saw it. His massive undertaking was loosely divided into scenes of private, provincial, Parisian, political, military, and country life. Whenever he sensed something missing or discovered an unturned stone, he quickly inserted another novel. He accomplished this feat by drinking huge amounts of coffee and working twenty hours at a stretch, killing himself in the process. He was driven by debt incurred from failed business ventures and extravagant living, as well as the certain knowledge that he was the one person most qualified to explain and judge society. The extent to which he succeeded spawned an entire Balzac industry that occupies, like his own work, many miles of library shelves.
The Giant Book of Scottish Short Stories
There is a sense of immediacy and familiarity in these stories that make them hard to resist. Last night in bed, for instance, I started a story by Duncan Williamson when I was tired and should really have turned out the light. �Death in a Nut� had no trouble keeping me awake. The story, transcribed by the author�s wife, captures the Scots� travelers� dialect that Williamson was immersed in for much of his life. In a lesson about accepting the inevitability and importance of death, the narrator tells about a son and his mother, and what happens when the son, Jack, refuses to let his mother die. Here is a passage from the story:
. . . Bi this time it was daylight as the sun begint tae get up, and Jack walkit up along the shoreway jist in the grey-dark in the mornin, getting clear. It must hae been about half-past eight-nine o�clock, (in the wintertime it took a long while tae get clear in the mornins) when the tide was comin in. Jack walked along the shoreway an lo an behold, the first thing he seen comin a-walkin the shoreway was an auld man with a long grey beard, skinny legs and a ragged coat o�er his back an a scythe on his back. His two eyes were sunk inta his heid, sunk back intae his skull, an he wis the most uglies�-luikin creature that Jack ever seen in his life. But he had on his back a brand new scythe an hit was shinin in the light fae the mornin.
Noo, his mother hed always tellt Jack what like Deith luikit an Jack says tae his ainsel, �That�s Deith come fir my auld mother! He�s come tae take on�y thing that I love awa fae me, but,� he said, �he�s no gettin awa wi it!� . . .
In more straightforward English, the book also features many fine tales of the supernatural. From the editor�s introduction:
. . . Our fascination with the supernatural is not as simple as it might seem and Scottish writers have seldom opted for straightforward ghost stories or tales of the unexpected. Of course Scott and Hogg owe a lot to the uncanny world of the old ballads, while Cunninghame Graham, Duncan Williamson, R.L. Stevenson and even Conan Doyle satisfy the perennial demand for a mysterious tale well told. Even so, the strange stories of Robert McLellan and Eric Linklater make powerful social comments, while the uncanny experiences described in Margaret Oliphant�s �The Library Window� go behind the supernatural to provide an outstandingly sensitive account of a young girl�s awakening sexuality. In quite different ways George MacDonald and Neil Gunn are haunted by intimations of a realm beyond our own that is somehow more real than realism. In this respect the stories by Betsy Whyte, Fred Urquhart and James Hogg deal equally strikingly with a world of changing boundaries and sexual ambiguity. Joan Ure and Brian McCabe take us back to Macnair Reid who reminds us that the real world can be just as strange and disorienting as any supernatural realm. . . .
The Giant Book of Scottish Short Stories includes work from eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century writers. Each story is accompanied by an interesting note on its author�s background and his or her place in Scottish literature. The collection is an excellent introduction to Scotland�s literary wealth, and its contribution to world literature.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Coleridge, an English poet and critic, was born in 1772. He died in 1834. His major works include Lyrical Ballads (1798), a landmark volume of poetry published in conjunction with his friend, William Wordsworth, and which contained the first great works of the Romantic School; Kubla Khan; and a tragedy, Remorse. Later, in 1816, estranged from his family and addicted to opium (a battle he fought most of his life and lost), he occupied himself with Biographica Literaria (1817), a wide-ranging series of autobiographical notes that included philosophy and literary criticism, many of which were considered brilliantly perceptive. That same year he also published Sybylline Leaves and delivered his last lecture. Later, while in seclusion at the home of physician James Gillman, he published Aids to Reflection (1825) and Church and State (1830).
I like The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as much for its illustrations by Gustave Dor� as I do Coleridge�s poem. Like most of Coleridge�s poetry, Ancient Mariner has a supernatural theme, to which Dor�s temperament and talent were ideally suited. Dor� (1832-1883), born in Strasbourg, began drawing as a young child. At fifteen, he�d already begun his career as a professional artist in Paris. He had an exceptional memory, worked quickly, and was in great demand, both professionally and at parties, where he performed tricks and various acrobatic stunts such as walking on his hands. The first edition of Ancient Mariner featuring his inspired, unearthly woodcuts appeared in 1875.
Webmaster�s Reading List
At right is a fairly inclusive list of what Vahan has read so far. The titles are grouped by author. This list also gives an idea of how far I have yet to go in this section. Vahan just started reading Victor Hugo�s Les Mis�rables. I�ll give an occasional update on his progress. . . .
Also by William Michaelian
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
80 pages. Paper.
Signed copies available
A Listening Thing
Among the Living
No Time to Cut My Hair
One Hand Clapping
Songs and Letters
Early Short Stories
Cosmopsis Print Editions
News and Reviews
Flippantly Answered Questions
E-mail & Parting Thoughts
A few words about my favorite dictionary . . .
From �Seventy Thousand Assyrians�
The Daring Young Man on the
Flying Trapeze and Other Stories
by William Saroyan
. . . I had twenty cents and a half pack of Bull Durham. I rolled a cigarette, handed the pack to one of my contemporaries who looked in need of nicotine and inhaled the dry smoke, thinking of America, what was going on politically, economically, spiritually. My contemporary was a boy of sixteen. He looked Iowa; splendid potentially, a solid American, but down, greatly down in the mouth. Little sleep, no change of clothes for several days, a little fear, etc. I wanted very much to know his name. A writer is always wanting to to get the reality of faces and figures. Iowa said, �I just got in from Salinas. No work in the lettuce fields. Going north now, to Portland; try to ship out.� I wanted to tell him how it was with me: rejected story from Scribner�s, rejected essay from The Yale Review, no money for decent cigarettes, worn shoes, old shirts, but I was afraid to make something of my own troubles. A writer�s troubles are always boring, a bit unreal. People are apt to feel, Well, who asked you to write in the first place? . . .
First paragraph, Notes from Underground
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
translated by David Magarshack
I am a sick man. . . . I am a spiteful man. No, I am not a pleasant man at all. I believe there is something wrong with my liver. However, I don�t know a damn thing about my liver; neither do I know whether there is anything really wrong with me. I am not under medical treatment, and never have been, though I do respect medicine and doctors. In addition, I am extremely superstitious, at least sufficiently so to respect medicine. (I am well educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious for all that.) The truth is, I refuse medical treatment out of spite. I don�t suppose you will understand that. Well, I do. I don�t expect I shall be able to explain to you who it is I am actually trying to annoy in this case by my spite; I realize full well that I can�t �hurt� the doctors by refusing to be treated by them; I realize better than any one that by all this I am only hurting myself and no one else. Still, the fact remains that if I refuse to be medically treated, it is only out of spite. My liver hurts me � well, let it damn well hurt � the more it hurts the better.
Two parables from The Madman
by Kahlil Gibran
Once, as I was burying one of my dead selves, the grave-digger came by and said to me, �Of all those who come here to bury, you alone I like.�
Said I, �You please me exceedingly, but why do you like me?�
�Because,� said he, �They come weeping and go weeping � you only come laughing and go laughing.�
A fox looked at his shadow at sunrise and said, �I will have a camel for lunch today.� And all morning he went about looking for camels. But at noon he saw his shadow again � and he said, �A mouse will do.�
From �The Novel�
An essay about writing, reading, and criticism
by Guy de Maupassant
translated by Leonard Tancock
. . . Talent is long patience. It is a matter of looking at anything you want to express long enough and closely enough to discover in it some aspect that nobody has yet seen or described. In everything there is an unexplored element because we are prone by habit to use our eyes only in combination with the memory of what others before us have thought about the thing we are looking at. The most insignificant thing contains some little unknown element. We must find it. To describe a fire burning or a tree on a plain let us stand in front of that fire and that tree until for us they no longer look like any other tree or any other fire. . . .
From the foreword of The Collected
Stories of Guy de Maupassant
by Ari Salant
. . . Maupassant always insisted on his professionality, that he was, above all, a workman who could have made his way in many other fields. His stories evidence the veracity of that statement, which on the one hand was designed to shock his readers � and indeed still does � while on the other hand, indicated how close he was stylistically to the better painters of his time and to the natural scientists. Likewise, the stories encapsulate Maupassant�s wide scope of material. . . .
Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus
by James Otis
I don�t read every used book I buy. Occasionally I bring one home because I can�t resist its appearance or its title, or some other aspect of its existence. I bought this book for four reasons: first, it was only two dollars; second, it was published in 1905; third, on the inside cover, someone wrote �Xmas 1907, Aunt Kittie�; and fourth, the design and illustrations are great. The book was published by Harper & Brothers; the name of the illustrator isn�t given. If I remember correctly, Toby Tyler is an orphan who joins the circus, only to discover the owner is a mean S.O.B. I�m pretty sure there was a movie based on this book, but if there was I never saw it, and I have no intention of finding out. But I have the book. That�s what counts.
From �The Captain�s Daughter�
by Alexander Pushkin
translated by Natalie Duddington
. . . Uncertainty as to Marya Ivanovna�s fate tortured me most. Where was she? What had happened to her? Had she had time to hide? Was her refuge secure? Full of anxious thoughts I entered the Commandant�s house. All was empty; chairs, tables, boxes had been smashed, crockery broken; everything had been taken. I ran up the short stairway that led to the top floor and for the first time in my life entered Marya Ivanovna�s room. I saw her bed pulled to pieces by the brigands; the wardrobe had been broken and pillaged; the sanctuary lamp was still burning before the empty ikon-stand. The little mirror that hung between the windows had been left, too. . . .
Miscellaneous notebook entries
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
People who write about themselves and their feelings, as Byron did, may be said to serve up their own hearts, duly spiced, and with brain-sauce out of their own heads, as a repast for the public.
Instances of two ladies, who vowed never again to see the light of the sun, on account of disappointments in love. Each of them kept their vow, living thenceforth, and dying after many years, in apartments closely shut up, and lighted by candles. One appears to have lived in total darkness.
A story, the principal personage of which shall seem always on the point of entering the scene; but shall never appear.
A ray of sunshine, searching for an old blood-spot, through a lonely room.
From �Aesthetic Jurisprudence�
An essay about criticism
by George Jean Nathan
from the anthology, This Is My Best
. . . Criticism, at its best, is a great, tall candle on the altar of art; at its worst, which is to say in its general run, a campaign torch flaring red in behalf of aesthetic ward-heelers. This campaign torch motif in criticism, with its drunken enthusiasm and raucous hollering born of ignorance, together with what may be called the Prince Albert motif, with its sober, statue-like reserve born of ignorance that, being well-mannered, is not so bumptious as the other, has contributed largely to the common estimate of criticism as a profession but slightly more exalted than Second Avenue auctioneering if somewhat less than Fifth. Yet criticism is itself an art. It might, indeed, be well defined as an art within an art, since every work of art is the result of a struggle between the heart that is the artist himself and his mind that is the critic. Once his work is done, the artist�s mind, tired from the bitterness of the struggle, takes the form of a second artist, puts on this second artist�s strange hat, coat and checkered trousers, and goes forth with refreshed vigour to gossip abroad how much of the first artist�s work was the result of its original splendid vitality and how much the result of its gradually diminished vitality and sad weariness. The wrangling that occurs at times between art and criticism is, at bottom, merely a fraternal discord, one in which Cain and Abel belabour each other with stuffed clubs. . . .
A passage from Lost Illusions
by Honor� de Balzac (1799-1850)
translated by Herbert J. Hunt
. . . When the company was complete, when the talking came to an end � not without many warnings given to the chatterers by Monsieur de Bargeton, whom his wife sent round like a church beadle smiting his wand on the flagstones � Lucien took his stance at the round table, with Madame de Bargeton by his side, in a state of violent mental turmoil. With quavering voice he announced that, so as not to disappoint the expectations of his audience, he was going to read the recently discovered masterpieces of a great but unknown poet. Although Andr� Ch�nier�s poems had been published in 1819, no one in Angoul�me had heard of him as yet. Everybody interpreted this announcement as an expedient adopted by Madame de Bargeton in order to safeguard the poet�s self-esteem and put the audience at its ease. Lucien started by reading The Love-sick Youth, which was received with flattering murmurs; then The Blind Poet, which was too long for these mediocre minds. While reading, Lucien was a prey to the excruciating suffering which can only be understood by artists or by those whose enthusiasm and high intelligence raise them to a similar level. If poetry, when read or when recited, is to be understood, devout attention must be paid to it. There must be a close bond between reader and listener, for without this the electric communication of feeling is impossible. If this cohesion between souls is lacking, the poet then feels like an angel trying to sing a celestial hymn amid the jeering laughter of demons. . . .
An excerpt from
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Dover, New York (1970)
. . .
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
�Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!
All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
. . .
And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.
Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
. . .
WEBMASTER�S READING LIST
The Double; White Nights; A Disgraceful Affair; Notes from the Underground; The Gambler; The Eternal Husband; A Gentle Creature; The Dream of a Ridiculous Man; Bobok; A Nasty Story; The House of the Dead; Crime and Punishment; The Possessed; The Idiot; Brothers Karamazov; The Adolescent.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich; Resurrection; War and Peace.
Fathers and Sons; Rudin.
Grief; Agafya; Misfortune; A Boring Story; The Grasshopper; Ward 6; Ariadne; The House with an Attic; Ionych; The Darling; Lady with Lapdog.
Guy de Maupassant
Bel Ami; Pierre and Jean; A Life; also approximately 240 short stories.
Honor� de Balzac
Lost Illusions; Old Goriot; A Marriage Settlement; Cousin Pons; At the Sign of the Cat and Racket; Eug�nie Grandet; The Atheist�s Mass; The Conscript; The Purse; The Gondreville Mystery; La Grande Bret�che; Ferragus, Chief of the D�vorants.
The Earth; L�Assommoir; Germinal; Nana.
The Human Comedy; My Name Is Aram; Tracy�s Tiger; Little Children; Papa You�re Crazy; Not Dying.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Edgar Allan Poe
Sixty-seven short stories; The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket; �The Raven�; thirty other poems.
Arthur Conan Doyle
Fifty-six Sherlock Holmes stories
Les Mis�rables; The Hunchback of Notre Dame; The Toilers of the Sea
The Shade Returneth
The Winter of Our Discontent; Cannery Row; East of Eden
A Farewell to Arms; For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Cry, the Beloved Country
Sixes and Sevens
(twenty-five short stories)
Look Homeward, Angel; The Web and the Rock; Of Time and the River
Life on the Mississippi
Zorba the Greek