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Reviews Written by
Darran "x-rayspe-x" (London, UK)

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Sentimental Education (Penguin Classics)
Sentimental Education (Penguin Classics)
by Robert Baldick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the greatest novel ever written, 23 July 2012
This book is the pinnacle of realism and is possibly the greatest novel ever written. The only book that strikes me as possibly having as great a level of insight into the human condition or 'normal life' is Ulysses. In fact Modernism and the writings of Joyce, Woolf and Proust are unimaginable to me without the prior existence of this book. Kafka adored it and Woody Allen listed it as a reason for living in Manhattan. If you are struggling to understand what the difference is between Modernism and its forbears read this alongside Les Miserables by Victor Hugo which was published 7 years earlier. One is full of romance, adventure, drama, improbable incidents and sentimentality and the other is the clearest possible delineation of what it actually is to be alive. Flaubert writes with a godlike omniscience in beautiful, precise prose. His power of observation, his artistry and the depth of his psychological understanding leave me awe struck when reading this masterpiece.


The Decline of the West (Oxford Paperbacks)
The Decline of the West (Oxford Paperbacks)
by Oswald Spengler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.06

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Germanic genius, 9 Aug. 2011
Yesterday as I watched London burning on the news, with riots spreading across the UK, whilst the world economy was collapsing and China was scolding the USA for it's inability to manage it's debt my thoughts drifted to Spengler. As we observe the rising power of millions of millenarian theocrats who now have a real chance to take the highest political office in the world's only superpower I am reading 2666 by Roberto Bollano, which explores the savage state of northern Mexico which is being torn apart by gang warfare of a level of brutality we haven't seen since the days of the likes of the Mongol hordes. I don't know if reading Spengler years ago has so effected my world view that I see things through the prism of his vision, but it certainly seems to me that we are living through the decline of the west.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2012 9:25 PM BST


Ethics (Penguin Classics)
Ethics (Penguin Classics)
by Benedict Spinoza
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One for the fact fans, 26 May 2011
I haven't read this yet though I mean to one day. I just thought people might be curious to know that apparently this is one of Tracey Emin's favourite books. She selected a range of books to sell at Louis Vuitton on Bond Street and her retrospective at the Hayward and this book was one of her choices.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2015 9:33 PM GMT


The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (Classics)
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (Classics)
by Jacob Burckhardt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best History books I've ever read, 28 July 2010
It has been years since I read this but I thought i'd add a positive review because it seemed a little unloved here on Amazon. This is one of the most thrilling, enjoyable History books I've ever read and I would warmly recommend it to anyone with any interest in this period of History. Very well written and filled with fascinating detail it illuminate one of the most interesting periods in human history.


Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
by Marshall McLuhan
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than 'Mythologies', 28 April 2010
To be honest I read this book 7 or 8 years ago and I don't remember it clearly, but I do remember being struck by its quality and thinking that it was similar, but much superior to Roland Barthes' better known 'Mythologies'. I just thought it was a shame that no one else had left a recommendation here yet.


The Waste Books (New York Review Books Classics)
The Waste Books (New York Review Books Classics)
by R. J. Hollingdale
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully witty aphoristic philosophy, 19 Oct. 2009
Lichtenberg is a wonderfully witty writer who exemplifies an alternative current in German writing and culture that seems to have more in common with the French or British tradition. He writes pithily and aphoristically as Nietzsche and Wittgenstien do, rather than heavily and ponderously as Kant and Hegel and Heidegger do. He reminds me of other 18th century wits like Voltaire, Diderot, Pope, Swift and Sterne. He was a professor of Physics and the Waste Books are informal journals of thoughts, fancies and ideas that came to him. Reading them offers the pleasure of observing a brilliant mind following its own thoughts for it's own sake. They are a joy to read.


Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity
Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity
by Richard Rorty
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.09

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 28 Sept. 2009
I thought this book was magnificent, and I feel lucky that I happened to pick it up by chance. I never studied philosophy but I read it for my own personal enjoyment and development, and I have found this book to be the closest to my personal philosophy. He takes the good stuff from both Analytical and Continental philosophy. He thinks that literature is the best means we have of representing and understanding our world, which I agree with. He also finds a way to reconcile my love of cruel, elitist or anti-humanist writers and thinkers like Nietzsche and Nabokov with my instinctive liberal humanist feelings. A brilliant book.


The Man without Qualities
The Man without Qualities
by Robert Musil
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Proust, 4 Sept. 2009
I have just finished the fourth volume of 'In Search Of Lost Time', 'Sodom And Gomorra', and I am loving it. However, the novel it most reminds me of is this one. I just wanted to leave a 5 star review here because I think this magnificent novel is nowhere near praised or read enough... I would say in the English speaking world but the German speakers I have spoken to about it seem to have never read it or even heard of it either. Proust is one of the most famous names in literature and he is much discussed, if not much read, and deservedly so because he is a magnificent writer. I really feel that Musil deserves more plaudits and recognition because 'The Man Without Qualities' is similar to 'In Search...' but better.

The other book that shares some similarities with this is 'Infinite Jest'. David Foster Wallace was a mutli-talented, cross disciplinary genius like Robert Musil, and he wrote a massive, all encompassing novel about the state of his nation and the state of the soul of modern man like Musil, but 'Infinite Jest' is not quite as good as the adoring praise it receives could lead you to believe, whilst 'The Man Without Qualities' fulfills every expectation you could possibly hold.

Ulysses is a different animal altogether.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2009 12:09 AM BST


Album Generic Flipper
Album Generic Flipper
Price: £10.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe this has been reissued at last, 28 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Album Generic Flipper (Audio CD)
I read about this album in 'Rip It Up and Start Again' and it sounded so good I was desperate to find it. I looked all over London for this album, from HMV Oxford Street, to Zavvi Piccadilly Circus, to Sister Ray and both Rough Trade's and couldn't find it. I went to San Francisco this month and finally found it at Amoeba records. I felt pretty smug about it, imagining myself telling people I had to go to Flipper's home town and visit the hippest record store in the world to find it. And now I find out that, in fact, Domino re-released this album in June, thereby diminishing the impact of my find.

Anyway, this is an outstanding album, one of the pinnacles of post-punk. It's a bit like a cross between PIL and Black Flag. It's something like Public Image Ltd, but less arty and more raw and funky. It's just great.


The Revolt of the Masses
The Revolt of the Masses
by Josť Ortega y Gasset
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply put: One of the worst books I have ever read, 28 July 2009
There are very few occasions in my reading life when I come across a highly acclaimed book that I think is such a stinker I struggle to understand how anybody could have ever though otherwise.

I thought this was pompous, tedious and poorly argued. Ortega makes grand, sweeping statements without providing corroborating evidence and says you're stupid if you don't agree with him. It's not as if I am unwilling to let grand, sweeping statements pass as long as they are written in a stimulating, moving or exciting way, hence my love for Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Spengler, but this is nowhere near that level.

In case I am not making my feelings plain let me reiterate, this book is garbage.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 7, 2010 1:52 PM BST


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