Dedicated to classics and hits.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Tent of Miracles (1967) by Jorge Amado

Book Review
Tent of Miracles (1967)
by Jorge Amado

Bahia, location of Tent of Miracles by Brazilian author Jorge Amado
  Amado is typically considered the most popular/best Modernist novelist.  He had a lengthy career as a public intellectual and abroad, wrote multiple novels that embraced the fractious modern society of Brazil and was even elected to Congress in Brazil as a Communist.   Tent of Miracles is part of his series of Bahia novels, and mostly concerns the life and times of Pedro Archanjo, a self taught savant of the social sciences who fiercely opposes the racist ideologies of the university professors.  He is also a spiritual talisman for his community, living and loving, fathering children near and far and generally promoting miscegenation as a Brazilian solution to racism.

  I'm told that Tent of Miracle is a satire, and while the prose evokes an occasional chuckle, I think a modern English language reader is going to find much that is particularly funny.  On the other hand it is an insightful portrayal of Brazilian society in the mid 1960's, and what with the Olympics imminent, there is no better time to read up on Brazilian literature.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Ogre/The Erl-King (1970) by Michael Tournier

Book Review
The Ogre/The Erl-King (1970)
 by Michael Tournier

  I had zero expectations for The Ogre, which is typically described as a memoir of a French P.OW. during World War II.  That description doesn't do justice to The Ogre, which is a richly researched portrait of life in the innner sanctum of the Third Reich, with important portions of the narrative taking place in the Prussian hunting retreat of Hermann Goring, second in command of the Nazi regime.  The Ogre refers to both the narrator and powerful characters like Goring.  In one scene, Goring, who revelled in his role and title of being "master of the hunt," emasculates a slaughtered stack and holds forth on the visceral nature of taking a creatures testicles.

   Tournier doesn't shirk from the more disturbing details of the Holocaust, with the late entry of an escaped concentration camp victim.  The theme of pedophillia is present throughout- with the early portions of the narrative seeing the main character, Abel Tiffauges,  charged with raping a child, and the related discovery of hundred of pictures he had been secretly taking of young children.  The charges are dismissed due to the onset of World War II, and Tiffauges is quickly captured by the Germans, where he rises in importance by virtue of his extreme adaptability and lack of nationalist sentiments.

    The end result is something like a World War II memoir written by Nabokov.

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