Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Maid Silja

I am surprised that I have never heard of this book by the Nobel Prize winner in Literature of 1939. It was a difficult book to read at the start because it is obviously a translation from Finnish. It took me a while to get accustomed to the rythm and style of the writing translated into English, and then I found myself really enjoying the story. The Maid Silja is a rather depressing story of the downfall of the Salmelus family who suffer one tragedy after another until, in the end, Silja dies alone in poverty. The story is beautifully written.

Sillanpaa offers this at the end as a message of the tragic story: "So ends the tale of the last flourishing of an old family tree that happened to end at that time; they are always ending. But these 'trees' are not like the trees of the forest. There is no real death for a family; if we could look unhindered through time, we should see 'branches' of every of every family still alive...In the widest sense of all we are al members of the same family and can therefore respect each other's struggles in all time. You too, the farthest reader in point of time of this narrative, may respect our battles. This natural stress of battle is only a sign, the meaning and significance of which we are permitted, indeed constantly compelled, to study."

Thursday, February 26, 2009


If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. ~John Quincy Adams~

Saturday, February 21, 2009

katrina's reads: The Olympic Challenge: London 2012

katrina's reads: The Olympic Challenge: London 2012

I have been working on this challenge for a few months now. Here is a list of the books I have read, so far:

BUL Bulgaria=The Voices of Marrakesh by Elias Canetti (2/09)
DEN Denmark=Fear and Trembling by Sorn Kierkegaard (2/09)
PHI Philippines =Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories by Liana Elena Romulo (1/09)
POL Poland= The Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojcechowska (01/09)
PAK Pakistan = Reconciliation by Benazir Bhutto (12/08)
USA United States of America = Grace by Richard Paul Evans (12/08)
CAN Canada = The Shack by William P. Young (12/08)
COL Colombia = Love in a Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (2008)
NED Netherlands= The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (2008)
RWA Rwanda = Left To Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza (2008)
GBR Great Britain = A Town Like Alice by Nevil Chute (2008)
BRA Brazil= The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (2008)

Here is a link to my blog where I am posting my list and reviews of some of the books that I have read recently. I am currently reading:

FIN Finland= The Maid Silja by F.E. Sillanpaa

I have been really enjoying the challenge. I am having a difficult time finding an author from Seychelles. Any suggestions?

Wisdom in Speech

John Adams is a hero of mine and gave counsel concerning dealing with the bad people we have to, in our lives. This is timely wisdom for me, lately, as I deal with one very bad person at the Utah Legislature!

"There are persons whom in my heart I despise, others I abhor. Yet I am not obliged to inform the one of my contempt, nor the other of my detestation. This kind of a necessary branch of wisdom, and so far from being immoral...that it is a duty and a virtue."

[McCullough, J. John Adams, pg. 208]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Time to Act!

Machiavelli wrote many words that inspire me. The following quote is significant to me at this time:

"I believe, believed, and shall always believe...that it is better to act and regret than to not act and regret."
[DeGrazia, Sebastian. Machiavelli in Hell. (1989). pg. 195.]

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Voices of Marrakesh

A fascinating "travel book" by Nobel Prize winner, Elias Canetti, from Bulgaria. Canetti describes the traditions, sights, and especially the sounds of Marrakesh, Morocco. The descriptions are amazing and I was intrigued as I learned more about the people of Morocco.
Here is an example of Canetti's writing as he compares and contrasts himself as a writer to the storytellers on the main plaza of Marrakesh:
"There were times when I would have given a great deal to be able to, and I hope the day will come whe I can appreciate these itinerant storytellers as they deserve to be appreciated. Bt I was also glad that I could not understand them. For me, they remained an enclave of ancient, untouched existence. Their language was as important to them as mine to me. Words were their nourishment, and they let no one seduce them into exchanging it for a better form of nourishment. I was proud of the power of storytelling that I witnessed them wielding over their linguistic fellows. I saw them as elders and better brothers to myself. In happy moments I told myself: I too can gather people round me to whom I tell stories; and they too listen to me. But instead of roaming from place to place never knowing whom I will find, whose ears will receive my story, instead of living in utter dependence on my story itself I have dedicated myself to paper. I live now behind the protection of desk and door, a craven dreamer, and they in the bustle of the marketplace, among a hundred strange faces that are different every day, unburdened by cold, superflous knowledge, without books, ambtion, or empty respectability. Having seldom felt at ease among the people of our zones whose life is literature--despising them because I despise something about myself, and I think that something is paper--I suddenly found myself here amon authors I could look up to since there was not of theirs to read."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

This was an interesting read for me. I was not aware of the German Occupation of Guernsey and some of the history there. I loved the characterizations (I especially loved weird Isola!). I was also impreseed that she brought in a true piece of history as she showed a majority of the German soldiers occupying Guernsey as sympathetic and not evil to those around them. It gave back a human look to the German occupiers and not the one that is most often portrayed. I think it is often forgotten that the soldiers on both sides were just there for the job at hand and were good, law-abiding citizens prior to the war who looked forward to getting back to their families. Guernsey is placed up in stark contrast to the evil things done in camps such as Ravenbrook.
One of my favorite passages in the book that I thought said so much follows:"There didn't sem to be anything else to say after that--though I was thinking, if only Elizabeth could have held on for a few more weeks, she could have come home to Kit. Why, why. so close to the end, did she attack the overseer?""Remy watched the sea breathe in and out. Then she said, "It would have been better for her not to have such a heart.""Yes, but worse for us.""The tide came in then: cheers, screams, and no more sand castles."
Lovely symbolism!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

2012 Olympics Reading Challenge

I am currently participating in a rather rigorous reading challenge, right now, called the 2012 Olympic Reading Challenge. The challenge is to read a book by an author from each of the 202 countries who will be participating in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London prior to those Olympic Games beginning. A link to the challenge can be found here:

katrina's reads: The Olympic Challenge: London 2012

I have just finished reading the book Fear and Trembling by the Danish writer/philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Here are my thoughts on the book:

Difficult read, for the most part. However, Kierkegaard's discussion of faith, as an existentialist of the 1850's is fascinating! In Fear and Trembling, Kiekegaard discusses the Biblical account of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac as a demonstration of perfect faith and what all is entailed in that.
I think that the reading would have been easier for me to more fully understand if I had been more familiar with the philosophies of Hegel, who Kierkegaard refers to (and refutes) so often.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Kierkegaard on Faith

I am currently participating in a reading challenge to read a book written by an author from each of the countries involved in the Summer Olympics prior to the 2012 Olympics in London. I am currently reading my Danish author, Soren Kierkegaard. I chose to read Fear and Trembling. I am finding the reading most stimulating as he talks about his conception of faith using the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac in his work. I love studying the writings of the existentialist authors; Thoreau and Emerson have long been two of my favorite thinkers to study. Following is an thought-provoking quote from the book:

"No one shall be forgotten who was great in this world; but everyone was great in his own way, and everyone in proportion to the greatness of what he loved. For he who loved himself became great in himself, and he who loved others became great through his devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all. They shall be remembered, but everyone became great in proportion to his expectancy. One became great through expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal; but he who expected the impossible became greater than all. They shall all be remembered, but everyone was great in proportion to the magnitude of what he strove with. For he who strove with the world became great by conquering the world, and he who strove with himself became greater by conquering himself; but he who strove with God became greater than all. Thus their was strife upon earth: there was he who conquered everything by his own strength, and he who conquered God by his powerlessness. There was one who relied upon himself and gained everything, and one who, secure in his own strength sacrificed everything; but greater than all was the one who believed God...[When Abraham left his home to sacrifice his son, Isaac], he left behind his worldly understanding and took with his his faith.
(Kierkegaard, S. [translated by Alastair Hannay]. Fear and Trembling. (1985). London: Penguin Books Ltd.)