Jun 23, 2013

A Madman's Diary by Lu Xun

This is the second book in my quest to read the best 100 books of all times. It is a short story published in 1918 by Lu Xun (1881-1936) and as in the previous book, I had not heard of the author before... and it surprises me to realize the extent of bias towards Western culture of my high school education, since in six years of literature classes at school back in MonterĂ­a, I do not remember to have ever dealt with an author that was not Hispanic, American or European. The interesting thing about Lu Xun is that he was an innovator breaking from the traditional Chinese ways... and he must have been really brave to pull this off, in my opinion.

I must say that A Madman's Diary is hilarious! It is so uncommon to find a book that could actually make you burst into laughter. I could count a couple... I think it is really hard to be humorous in the written form; I mean, to the point of making you laugh out loud. All in all I rate this story very high, just for its entertaining value and without regard for its historical or literary context.

I do not want to give you any spoilers but the story is about this young man who thinks the entire world is full of cannibals, even his older brother is conspiring against him. Unfortunately for him, he IS their next meal!

Save the children...
Lu Xun

Jun 17, 2013

A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

I begin my journey to read the best 100 books according to the Norwegian Book Club. This list was compiled in 2002 by asking 100 authors from different countries to select their top 10 books and it is supposed to include books from all cultures and all times. I have decided to read them all in order to diminish my ignorance levels and become a better man. The list does not have a ranking so I decided to read them in alphabetical order by title, the first one being A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, published in 1879.

As of the day I saw the list for the first time I had never heard of neither A Doll's House nor of Mr. Ibsen. I must say this little book was a pleasant surprise. It is a play in three acts narrating the intriguing drama of a young married woman. It is not until the last act that you understand what this play is really about: a critic to society and the institution of marriage, in particular of women being oppressed, minimized, and underestimated by their husbands and society. In this case not really because of physical abuse but mostly because for her husband, she is just a pretty face with a vagina. It must have been extremely controversial when it was played for the first time, I wish I had been there.

As relevant then as it is today, unfortunately.

Exotic tulip