She was completely engrossed in a single thought

Dear Sofia, Nihilist Girl, tr. Natasha Kolchevska and Mary Zirin (2001. Original: Нигилистка, 1884) reads like a tale with a void inside, wrapped-up in a blue-tinged layer of melancholy: at its core, we cannot help but feel a slight shadow of disillusionment. The narrator, a twenty-four-year-old woman who has just returned to Russia after completing her PhD in Germany,…

Sofia Kovalevskaya

Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya (Со́фья Васи́льевна Ковале́вская, also known as Sophie Kowalevski; neé Sofia Vasilyevna Korvin-Krukovskaya, 15 January 1850 – 10 February 1891) was a Russian mathematician and author. She was educated at home by private tutors. During her teenage years, Sofia was introduced to the progressive ideas of the Narodniks (considered the intellectual and political forebears of the socialists, the Narodniks were a…

I wished I could split my body in two,

Dear Hanne, The Blue Room, tr. Deborah Dawkin (Original: Like sant som jeg er virkelig, 1999) is a novella about a girl who finds herself unable to break free from a relationship which is played out as a place she finds herself trapped in. Our narrator, Johanne, is a twenty-something psychology student who lives with…

Hanne Ørstavik

Hanne Ørstavik (1969) is a Norwegian writer. She graduated in Psychology, French and Sociology at the University of Oslo. Awards Dobloug Prize (2002) for her literary achievements Brage Prize (2004) for the novel Presten (2004) In 2006, her novel Kjærlighet (1997. Love, tr. Martin Aitkin, 2018) was chosen by Dagbladet the 6th best Norwegian book of the last 25 years Books In English Love, tr….

The Classics Spin #19

Hello, folks! It’s time for another Classics Club Spin! Participants post a list of 20 books on their Classics Club list. On Tuesday (November, 27th), a random number will be selected by the Club. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by January 31st, 2019. Here is my spin list:…

But white roses have grown

Hi, folks, This song, written by Mickey 3D, was inspired by Sophie Scholl and the non-violent resistance movement The White Rose, mentioned in the previous post. Below, you can find my (awkward) translation of the lyrics. I love the clip’s idea of representing small acts of individual resistance (and, ultimately, civil disobedience) as balloons escaping from the hands…

We took everything upon ourselves

Dear Sophie, What I found most interesting in the book The White Rose (1952) were the leaflets you produced and distributed, together with your brother and a group of like-minded friends: those leaflets were at once abstract and passionate; concrete and mystical. They read very much like a combination of different (sometimes even dissonant) voices set…

Sophie Scholl

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a German student, anti-Nazi dissident, and activist. When she was a teenager, she enlisted in the Hitler youth organization, as did most of her classmates. However, her initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to criticism, as she and her brother Hans began to feel the stifling effects of…

I preferred us when my father was away

Dear Birgit, The Mussel Feast, tr. Jamie Bulloch (2013. Original: Das Muschelessen, 1990) is a novella about the collapse of a man’s rule over his family during the course of an evening. It feels very much like you were weaving words around a blank space: as the story progresses, we get as much entangled in it as your characters…

Birgit Vanderbeke

Birgit Vanderbeke (1956) is a German writer. Born in the DDR, she moved with her family to West Germany, in 1961. Vanderbeke studied Law, Germanic and Romance languages in Frankfurt am Main. She lives in France since 1993. Awards Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis (1990) for “Das Muschelessen” (1990) Hans Fallada Prize (2002) Shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2014) for The…

My Year in Nonfiction 2018 | Biographies

Hi, folks! Continuing with the discussion started in the previous post, about nonfiction trends in my reading this year,  I’ve also noticed that I read a good amount of biographical books about women of letters: * Sara Coleridge, a Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays, by Bradford Keyes Mudge (1989) The book is a scholarly biography of Sara…

My Year in Nonfiction 2018 | 18th-century women writers

Hi, folks, I am late to the game, but I am discussing here the first prompt of Nonfiction November, posted during week 1 and hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. I am thinking about dividing this discussion over two (or more…) posts, so as to make a longer overview of my nonfiction reading over the year. Let’s…

Novellas in November | 2018

Hi, folks! There are never enough reading events, right? I just heard about Novellas in November, hosted by Rick over at Another Book Blog and Laura over at Reading in Bed. The idea is  simple: to read novellas throughout the month. Here is my TBR for the event (as you can see, some of the books will overlap…

She regarded life as an expedition into the unknown,

Dear Erika, I was not planning to read yet another book about you, nor anything related to the Mann family, but Gunna Wendt’s Erika und Therese: Erika Mann und Therese Giehse – Eine Liebe zwischen Kunst und Krieg (2018, ‘Erika Mann and Therese Giehse: a love story between art and war’, not translated yet) inadvertently…

Erika Mann

Erika Mann (Erika Julia Hedwig Mann, 1905 – 1969) was a German writer and actress. Born in Munich, she was the eldest daughter of the German novelist Thomas Mann. From 1912 to 1914, she attended the private school Ebermayerschule,  followed by almost a year at the Bogenhausen Volksschule. From 1915 to 1920, Erika attended the Höhere Mädchenschule am St….

An imposing and fragile mass

THE ELEPHANT Carlos Drummond de Andrade With my scant resources I make an elephant. I count on some wood from old furniture to prop him up. And I fill him with cotton, silk floss, softness. Glue will secure his droopy ears. His curling trunk is the finest part of his architecture. But he also has…

Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Carlos Drummond de Andrade (October 31, 1902 – August 17, 1987) was a Brazilian writer. He studied Pharmacy at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, in Belo Horizonte, but never worked as a pharmacist. He was a civil servant for most of his life. Books In English In the Middle of the Road – Selected Poems, translated by John…

To light a fire in the night

FIRE IN THE NIGHT Hélio Pellegrino (tr. Juliana Brina) We’ll light a fire in the night. Come here, hold this newspaper scrap, while I  strike the match. The wind is blowing hard, we must avoid it, otherwise the fire goes out. Come closer, have no fear. Unfold the end of the paper, leave it free,…