Friday, July 20, 2007

BOOKS | Russian Literature and the Art of the Novella

I'm planning for a Russian themed reading list next year (July is not even over and I'm already looking ahead to next year. *sigh*) - A Year of Russian Reading 2008, as I call it.

For next year, I shall attempt to read as deeply and as widely from the pool of Russian literature available in English. In anticipation of this, I have been checking out reading materials.

That was when I came across the Art of the Novella range published by Melville House. I have picked out My Life by Anton Chekhov, First Love by Ivan Turgenev and The Devil by Leo Tolstoy. The range also includes The Eternal Husband by Fyodor Dostoevsky, but I already have another edition by my preferred Russian translators, so I skipped it.

[Picture Above: The three Russian novellas published by Melville House I have laid out at my desk at work. The Homer face is from a publicity package to tie-in with The Simpsons Movie. You have to admit - the Simpson yellow against the colours of the novellas just looks good.]

I've noticed some interesting forthcoming titles from the Art of the Novella series:

In August 2007, Melville House will release How the Two Ivans Quarrelled by Nikolai Gogol. I might already have this in one of my Gogol anthologies. So I might skip it, although the temptation to just buy a copy to complete the collection is just too tempting.

Arriving February 2008:

But the one I have set my eye on is The Lemoine Affair by Marcel Proust. I have never seem this title before. Is anyone aware if there has been a prior English translation of this novella?

The Art of the Novella series is a good range to keep. The titles selected are interesting, and they have these minimalist monotone covers that are rather eye-catching. Most importantly, they are all in easily digestible novellas, which is good if you are hard pressed to finish your books - like myself.

21 comments:

LK said...

Have to check these out.

I like your idea of reading Russian literature. Lots of great stuff to delve into.

I still have to read Gogol's Dead Souls myself. One of my major reading goals! Also need to read Turgenev.

You might want to add Pushkin if you can.

Dark Orpheus said...

Pushkin is definitely on the list! I'm having fun just compiling the list. :)

Mailyn said...

The obvious choices I recommend are:

War & Peace [skip Anna Karenina lol]
The Brothers Karamazov
The Idiot
Crime and Punishment




Oh and I don't know if you've seen these but they are some of my fave Korean movies [I tried to include a bit from all genres]:

A Moment to Remember
A Bittersweet Life
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Art of Seduction
Daisy
I'm a Cyborg, But that's OK
Il Mare [much better than the Sandy/Keany copy]
Marrying the Mafia [both]
Memento Mori
My Sassy Girl [classic!]
My Wife is a Gangster [I like all 3]
Paradise Murdered
Phone
The Restless
Sex is Zero
Soo
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Taeguki
Tazza
To Sir With Love



Everybody I've talked to like Meet Mr Daddy but I didn't care much for it. They also loved King & Clown so I'll rec them two as well even though they weren't my cup of tea. They are still rather famous and well loved.

If you like Korean dramas let me know. They aren't long at all.

Mailyn said...

Forgot to ask if you liked Hong Kong movies as well. I could rec a lot there as well.

Mailyn said...

P.P.S. LOL! I also forgot that I loved Sabriel as well. Nix is one of my fave authors! OK, I go now. LOL.

Dark Orpheus said...

Hi Mailyn,

Wow. Long Korean list!

I watched My Wife Is A Gangster 3 last week - didn't quite like it. The fight scene were weak.
But I'm still trying to find the DVDs for the first 2 My Wife Is A Gangster movies. I heard they were a lot better.

Let's see - I've watched so little Korean films I can actually list them:
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Oldboy
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance


I love Sympathy for Lady Vengeance!

Kim Ki-Duk's 3-Iron, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

And I've enjoyed King & Clown

I guess because I usually don't have much free time - I prefer movie (2~3 hours). TV series, not so much. Too much long term commitment. ;p

I enjoy Hong Kong movies, definitely! :)

Mailyn said...

My Wife is a Gangster 1 is def my absolute fave but I HAD to see 3 since it has Oh Ji Ho [yummy!!!!!] AND Shu Qi. LOL.

Re Hong Kong movies, I don't know if you've seen these but they are AWESOME and quite famous as well. LOL.

Infernal Affairs [I LOVE THIS - has my two fave HK actors Tony Leung Chi Wai and Andy Lau Tak Wa. Plus more awesome actors. 1000 times better than the stupid Departed movie that ripped it off. Oh and I'd stick with the first one. Two and three aren't that great]

Confession of Pain [has Tony Leung AND the yummilicious Takeshi Kaneshiro!!! I reviewed this not long ago. Well, mostly squeeeded about it. LOL]

My Mother is a Bellydancer
Election [both must be watched or it will make little sense]
Love Undercover
One Nite in Mongkok
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
After This Our Exile
Perhaps Love [more Taki goodness! Plus Jacky Cheung Hok Yau]
2046
A World Without Thieves
Colour of the Truth
A Battle of Wits
Rob-B-Hob
Golden Chicken
Love Battlefield
Silk [not the best but still fun to watch]
Men Suddenly in Black [only the first]
Turn Left Turn Right [I'm a sucker for anything with Taki. LOL]
Jiang Hu
Metade Fumaca
Chungking Express
In the Mood for Love

To start off with. ^__^

Mailyn said...

Crap! Can't BELIEVE I forgot Hard Boiled and A Better Tomorrow!! Both classics!!

Oh and the very first Police Story.


P.S. I rent all my Asian movies online since they have a wider selection.

Bybee said...

What a great goal. I'll be riveted to your blog to see how you're coming along and read your impressions.

Dark Orpheus said...

Ah, I'm a fan of Tony too! And Maggie Cheung and Gong Li! But not Ziyi Zhang. :(

Loved Tony from Chungking Express, 2046 - but my fav is still In the Mood for Love and Infernal Affairs. The man can just emote with his soft eyes.

I watched Silk last year - it was rather touching, I thought. The boy ghost was just waiting for his mother.

I grew up with John Woo and Jackie Chan. Watched Jackie way back in his Drunken masters days in the 1980s. Have you caugth his Project A series? Or his Armor of the God trilogy?

OMG, Golden Chicken? Sandra Ng as the tragic hooker? :)

Battle of Wits - it's that historical war film with Andy Lau, yes? If it's the same show, oh yes - caught it last year. It was good.

Say, have you ever watched this cult classic Heroic Trio from the 1990s? - it stars Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui and Maggie Cheung? An odd martial arts superhero flick that also have some comedic moments.

Dark Orpheus said...

Bybee: Thanks for the support! Will post my 2008 reading list around end December or 1st week of January. Wonder how much re-readings I will be able to do?

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

Yeah Homer!! I like the idea of an all Russian reading list!! I hope you don't find it too limiting. Does modern Russian lit fit into this? Can hardly wait to start reading your posts on this!!

Mailyn said...

Yay!!! Another Tony fan! I'm obsessed with him and Andy is just pimpin' hot! LOL.

Have you watched any Takeshi movies? He is good as an actor but hella hot as a man. :-P

I haven't seen that movie! Must add it to my rental list. Oh and have you seen Golden Chicken 2? I hear it's not as funny. :-(

Mailyn said...

Oh and do watch My Mother is a Bellydancer if you ahven't! I've recommended it to quite a few people and they've loved it.

Damn, I need to stop double posting. It's just that I remember stuff AFTER I post! LOL

stefanie said...

Love the Homer. Like your reading plan idea too. It will be fun to follow your progress. That's what I like about blogs so much. You can read books that I have no plans on getting to ever soon or ever and I can experience them vicariously through you. :) And those Melville House books are very nice looking.

J.S. Peyton said...

Hey! I just wandered over from...somewhere (I can't remember). But I like your blog! And your plan to read Russian literature next year sounds like a brave but interesting undertaking. You could have the makings for your very own book challenge. :) What I've read of Russian literature, I've liked but that doesn't really say much, I'm afraid, since I haven't read very much. I have a lot of books by Russian authors laying around here though.

On a different subject, what did you think of "Old Boy"? I saw it in the theatre a few days ago and I didn't like it at all. Well, there were a few redeeming qualities but overall...eh. But then I don't particularly like gross-out movies.

Now, I did like "Spring, Summer Winter, Fall...Spring" (I'm sure I just got that wrong, but you know what I mean). I've just learned about this director's other movies which I'm having Blockbuster.com send to me in a few days.

J.S. Peyton said...

Whoa. I meant I saw "Old Boy" a few years ago. ;)

Dark Orpheus said...

Mailyn: Oh yeah - watched some of Takeshi Kaneshiro movies from his earlier Taiwanese days - and of course the Zhang Yimou, House of Flying Daggers. There was supposed to be a love triangle between Andy Lau, Takeshiro Kaneshiro and Zhang Ziyi. But I was like - "Oh come on, between Takeshi and Andy Lau, of course you would choose Takeshi! What triangle? It's clear-cut!"

The film I'm looking forward to next year will be Red Cliff, directed by John Woo and based on a chapter of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It has Tony and Takeshi in this historical epic battling wits.

Definitely check if I can get my hands on My Mother is a Bellydancer The title itself shows exciting. :p

Haven't caught Golden Chicken though. Don't think I will.

Heather Tips for the tips about Shelfari - but I think my problem is the file itself. It's JPEG - but it seems Shelfari only accepts files with the JPG extension. Will see what I can do. I would like to have Lena Headey as my Avatar. ;p

Modern Russian will be in the mix - although I need to find them. Maybe Russian vampires? I'm thinking the Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko. I'm also considering non-fiction right now. I'm particularly interested in Anna Politkovskaya's Russian Diary

Stefani Hee. I've wrote "D'oh" on Homer's forehead. Just seems right to do so.

JS Peyton I was not overly enthusiatic about Oldboy - but I like how the story unfolds and you get a different film from what you expected - the hypnosis, the idea of how the mind is open to suggestion, and how that can make two people fall in love, make someone believe she is pregnancy and at the end, to forget.

Otherwise, the violence of the film is just a little over the top - but yet not as excessive as a Quentin Taratino.

Spring, Summer Winter, Fall...Spring - I loved. There's something beautiful about the house in the middle of the lake, and that odd doorway. The framing and visuals on the movie was beautiful. I love the way the director uses everything onscreen so efficiently - and how the old monk just uses the cat's tail as a brush to copy out the Heart Sutra.

Kim Ki-Duk's other movies are a little bizarre though.

Mailyn said...

I'm also waiting for Red Cliff! But isn't that the one with Takeshi and Tony Leung? I think you're talking about The Wardlords [that has Takeshi and Andy and Jet Li] and then there is the other 3k movie which is Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon which has Andy and Maggie Q.

Dear Lord these people need to stop making movies long enough for me to catch up! LOL. I can't choose between the two 3K movies since one has Andy but the other one has Tony [my first HK love and STILL my fave actor there] AND Taky. LOL.

I could be totally wrong since I haven't heard about these in a while so correct me if I am wrong. I know there was some thing with Jet Li backing out of Warlords and then coming back so I wouldn't be surprised if the same was true for 3K.

Can't wait for them all!

Oh and the new Jet Li movie with Jacky Chan. Although I don't know if that's still happening.

Mailyn said...

OMG I just heard Invisible Target was released in HK!!! I'm a total Nic Tse fan. :-P

Can't you tell I'm over the moon talking to you??? I FINALLY have someone who likes talking about Asian movies!!! ^__^

Yuo have NO idea how hard that is to find in my neck of the woods...or online. Ugh. LOL.

Dark Orpheus said...

Mailyn: A few years back I used to watch a lot more movies - these days a lot less because I have less time. DVD rentals are a godsend. This on-going film dialogue has been fun. Some of my closest friends are film-bluffs (and film-snobs), so I think I understand how great it is sometimes to be able to just talk about the stuff you've watched.

Oh yes, I was referring to Red Cliff - the one with Takeshi and Tony. Red Cliff is definitely the one where Takeshi and Tony battle wits. I heard about the Maggie Q one from monkeypeaches.com - but somehow, not so looking forward to it. As pretty as Maggie Q is, I don't think she can act? And she's definitely not Maggie Cheung or Gong Li.

Still can't believe I watched Hannibal Rising for Gong Li. ;p

I saw the Warlords trailer recently (while watching Harry Potter) - I was wondering about that. Will definitely catch it. I have a thing for historical films with epic battle scenes.

If you're a Tony-fan, are you interested in "Lust, Caution"? Directed by Ang Lee, and it's set in World War II Shanghai.