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Mr. Stuart Heath (Sweden)

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After the Quake
After the Quake
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Six little aftershocks, 4 Oct 2002
This review is from: After the Quake (Paperback)
"After the Quake" comprises six short stories, all set in Japan in the weeks following the Kobe earthquake of 1995, and all influenced in some more-or-less oblique way by it, each one like a little aftershock. Murakami's way of interleaving the mundane with the fantastic works to powerful effect in every one of these tales. He expertly conjures the strange and the profound out of his apparently casual and conversational prose. The translation reads smoothly and feels quite transparent. I found these stories uniformly excellent & would recommend them to anyone.

Price: £12.63

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music about Silence, 12 Oct 2001
This review is from: Silencio (Audio CD)
To entitle a collection of music 'Silencio' appears contrary, but, aptly enough, all of the pieces on this disk strive in some way to conjure forth absences, emptinesses, lacunae.
Arvo Pärt's work, such as I've heard, forms an attempt to eff the ineffable, and in so doing can seem to lose contact with the corporeal world & drift away into transparent bodilessness. His renowned piece 'Tabula Rasa' remains closer to terra-firma, however, more especially in its opening section which is replete with sinewy tension & torsion. In the piece's longer, second section, whose title is that of the CD as a whole, that sinew has snapped and an hypnotically rhythmic disconnectedness prevails, as if one is watching a piece of paper falling impossibly slowly, but inevitably, to earth.
Philip Glass' short piece for string orchestra 'Company', orginally written to accompany a staging of one of Samuel Beckett's later works, provides, within the context of this disc, a bridge between opposing shores, a means of traversing the distance between the previous piece and the next. Glass orchestrates scintillating moments from the seesawing strings, and sketches out swirls of chilly foreboding.
Vladimir Martynov's piece 'Come In!' at first sounds like an exercise in retro-romantic kitsch, and a repetitious one at that, but, with repeated listenerly attention, one can begin to get much more out of it. Certainly the melodies seem syrupy and old-fashioned at times, but then there is also a gentle tapping-on-the-door motif which has no such backward-lookind connotations, and, as one listens all the more, the piece's rapturous yet patient exploration of a few themes, no less repetetive in its own way than the works of Pärt or Glass, yields a different sweetness, one of delicately reiterated bliss.
The set comes to an austerely meditative conclusion, with a second composition of Pärt's. This thoughtfully-compiled disc is serious music that is a delight to hear, an ideal soundtrack for a contemplative mood.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream
by Francesco Colonna
Edition: Hardcover

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful translation of an amazing work., 16 Nov 2000
Joscelyn Godwin's translation has made the entire text of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili readily available to an Anglophone readership for the first time in the book's 501-year history, bringing to light what was formerly the preserve of a few savants deeply knowledgable in Renaissance Italian language and culture. What has always been accessible, meanwhile, namely the book's singularly elegant design, which combined numerous innovations in the fields of typography, page layout and illustration, have been painstakingly emulated by Thames and Hudson, and their printers, for this edition. One suspects that this book has more often been admired as an artefact and consummate relic of its time, than enjoyed as a work of literature, but Godwin's translation, which deliberately smooths many of the original text's convolutions, offers many delights, and immerses us in Poliphilo's fervent dream. The body of the book relates the hero's progress through his dreamworld, a paradise strewn with magnificent buildings and colossal ruins whose architecture is described in loving, even fetishistic detail; and populated for the most part by comely nymphs wearing diaphanous gowns. On the simplest level, this is escapist fantasy, embodying the author's sensual longings, and beyond that are, I presume, levels of allegorical meaning not obvious to a casual reader such as myself. By no means does one need, however, to understand every sign and symbol, in order to derive great pleasure from reading this amazing work.

Printing, Writers and Readers in Renaissance Italy
Printing, Writers and Readers in Renaissance Italy
by Brian Richardson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.30

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative but dryish study, 25 Oct 2000
Richardson leads the reader into some unfamiliar corners of one of history's best-mapped locales, that of Renaissance Italy. We are taken into the printer's workshop, we stand behind the bookseller's counter, we are permitted into literate homes to see what books there are, and where, and how they are read. The examination of the mechanics and statistics of the book trade in its infancy is informative but rather dry. More engaging is the tail-end of the book where we are introduced first to writers, then readers: it is Richardson's examination of how printed books entered and enriched their lives which lifts his book, and which lingers in the reader's mind.

Bestiary: Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Bodley 764
Bestiary: Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Bodley 764
by Richard Barber
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Ark, 25 Oct 2000 which unicorns and lions rub shoulders and haunches with cattle, hounds and mice. This book allows us to imagine beasts, fowl and fishes as our medieval forefathers did, in what to present-day eyes is a confused blend of 'facts', speculation and moralizing. The emphasis is all on knowledge gained from the library, rather than from the field... and how it can be applied in pursuit of a good & pious life. We feel the force of a pervasive belief that the Beasts were Created by God for the benefit of Man, but we also see an awe and a delight in the beauty and variety of that Creation, most vividly in the beautifully reproduced miniatures which illustrate the text. I love this book, and recommend it wholeheartedly.

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