Profile for Blackbeard > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Blackbeard
Top Reviewer Ranking: 37,527
Helpful Votes: 216

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Blackbeard

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
pixel
The Women at the Pump (A Condor Book) (A Condor Book)
The Women at the Pump (A Condor Book) (A Condor Book)
by Knut Hamsun
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An odd book, 9 Aug 2012
This is by far the strangest book I have read by Hamsun so far, and probably one of the strangest books I have ever read, for that matter. It's not so much the content or plot that's strange, but the style. Like most of his books, it actually doesn't really have much of a plot, as it is more of an excerpt from the life of a small town in Norway. And the content is all about simple-minded people with simple-minded problems, for the most part. But I can't imagine how this book was translated into another language (I read it in the original), because the style he writes in is so unusual. I doubt I can even attempt it but it's sort of like a jolly, "Look at what he's doing now! Yes, he's one of a kind. No one could tell HIM he couldn't do it. No, sir." It took me quite a while to really get into it, because I didn't care much for the main character, who is the main focus in the first part of the book, but after a while other characters are also put into focus, making it more dynamic and more interesting. The action takes place over a span of about 20 years I think, and there are all kinds of both mundane and complicated intrigues going on between the characters. Because of the style, it is sometimes difficult to tell what is truth and what is innuendo, and the behaviour of some of the characters is really quite perplexing at times. All in all however, I really ended up liking this book, and if the translation is good enough, I imagine others might like it too - if they don't mind a simple story without much of a plot, that is.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2012 9:53 PM GMT


The Essential Schopenhauer: Key Selections from The World As Will and Representation and Other Writings
The Essential Schopenhauer: Key Selections from The World As Will and Representation and Other Writings
by Arthur Schopenhauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy in detail, 12 July 2012
I didn't like this book as much as the other one I recently read (Essays and Aphorisms), but this was a lot more encompassing of Schopenhauer's whole philosophy and had a lot more from his main work, The World as Will and Representation. I found myself starting to get bored with the last third of the book or so, where the theme tends to be repetitive, but it still has a lot to offer and is still more interesting than most philosophy books. Schopenhauer had a clear way of thinking and a clear philosophy, basing much of it off of Kant and Plato, but also a lot off of Eastern philosophy, which perhaps makes it more unique. He is a lot more accessible than most philosophers, and this book shows that he was not nearly as pessimistic as his reputation tends to portray. I doubt I will read his main work now, after reading this, but I would highly recommend the previously mentioned Essays and Aphorisms to those interested in his philosophy.


And Quiet Flows the Don (Modern Classics)
And Quiet Flows the Don (Modern Classics)
by Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 12 July 2012
This book was recommended to me by a Russian who claimed that Sholokhov was better than Dostoevsky. Although he certainly wasn't in my opinion, this is still a very good book. He had a very interesting way of writing, and described a lot of things that aren't normally described in any books, like smells, for example. I found the main story between Grigory and Aksinja (not sure about the names in the English version) to be the most entertaining and most poignant, but there are a lot of interesting characters and a good description of scenery and "way of life". When the war started, however, the focus changed as well, and it started to drag a bit - especially since it started to follow different characters who hadn't really been properly introduced until that point, and some characters were also "forgotten", etc. I don't know how much of the whole story I actually read, because my version was in Danish and it didn't specify. The book I read was over 400 pages but I'm pretty sure there was a lot more afterwards. I would like to read the whole story in English at some point but I found it difficult to find a copy for a reasonable price, and also to know if it was the whole story. This is certainly high quality writing and I would recommend it to anyone who loves Russian literature.


The Liar (Library of Scandinavian Literature)
The Liar (Library of Scandinavian Literature)
by Martin A Hansen
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Danish, 5 Jun 2012
I had heard about this book when I was discussing Hamsun with someone, and I mentioned that I didn't know of any Danish authors worth reading. So when I saw it at a bookstore and decided to buy it, the bookseller assured me that it was a milestone in Danish literature. Unfortunately I can't confirm this, as I haven't read enough Danish books to make the qualification, but it is quite good. I read it in Danish, so I'm afraid I can't comment on the translation, but I had a bit of trouble reading it for the vocabulary used is unusually vast and outdated. Just when I thought I was pretty much fluent in the language a book like this really put me in my place. I understood Hamsun in Norwegian better than Hansen in Danish, if that says anything. To be fair to myself however, when I asked colleagues at work what certain words I didn't understand meant, they didn't know most of them either, and they're Danish. But on to the book. The story is about a man living on a small island in Denmark, back when the only access to such places was by ferryboat, and also at a time when the islands were usually surrounded by ice the whole winter, and hence closed off to the rest of the world. The man is a school teacher and the acting deacon(?), and his name is Johannes Vig. 'Svig', in Danish, means 'deceit', so the name is no coincidence, but the narrator (first person main character) is not untruthful in the sense that one can't believe what he says. He tells the story as it happened, and the "deceit" is more in the way that he hides his true feelings from the other characters in the book. He talks a lot about the island - the landscape, the people, and most of all about the birds - the latter from a hunter's aspect. There is plenty of human drama as well, and a somewhat complicated love story finds its place. I'm afraid I'm at a loss for words as to why this book is so Danish, but perhaps it has something to do with the detail of seemingly inconsequential things, and with the lack of ambition of most of the characters. It didn't really remind me of Hamsun either, but the tale is one of a lonely outsider, so perhaps that was why the previously mentioned person recommended it. It is actually a very simple story with a complicated protagonist, so I don't know how much it would appeal especially to non-Danes, but I really enjoyed it.


The House of the Dead (Classics)
The House of the Dead (Classics)
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychological realism, 28 May 2012
I wasn't too crazy about this book the first time I read it, probably because it's not as much of a "novel" as his other books, being based on his own life experience, but I thoroughly enjoyed it this time around for its psychological insight into the minds of a vast variety of criminals. There has probably never been another writer who has matched the psychological perspicacity of Dostoevsky, and it is because of this, coupled with the passion with which he wrote, that I hold him as the best of all writers. This book is about life in a Siberian prison, somewhere in the mid 19th century, and it describes not only what life was like in detail, but also what the people were like, from the prisoners to the guards to the townspeople, and how they all treated each other. I don't think Dostoevsky would have been the same writer if he didn't have this experience, and it just goes to show how even the most negative experience can be beneficial.


Essays and Aphorisms (Classics)
Essays and Aphorisms (Classics)
by Arthur Schopenhauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 2 May 2012
I don't know why it took me this long to get around to reading Schopenhauer, who I have been meaning to read ever since I discovered Nietzsche, lo these many years. I wanted to read his main work first, The Will as Idea and Representation, but was unable to find it at a reasonable price. I was very happy with this book, however, which is taken almost entirely from his Parerga and Paralipomena, and was translated by R.J. Hollingdale, who was the foremost British translator of Nietzsche, among others. Schopenhauer was a great thinker, and this book is filled with clear and concise insights into a variety of topics. He wrote in a way that is easily understandable and not boring, which cannot be said of most philosophers either before or after him. There are quite a few phrases in various languages, and not all of them are translated, but many of the ones that aren't can be inferred rather easily either from their context or root word. This is the kind of book that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes to think and who enjoys contact with great minds. Just a note on his pessimism: It makes a lot more sense than most of the alternative philosophies I've read or considered, and is not depressing or enervating.


A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemingway
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Reflections of the past, 25 April 2012
This review is from: A Moveable Feast (Paperback)
4.5 stars. It's difficult to not give anything by Hemingway 5 stars, but the reason I am doing it is not so much that there is anything wrong with this book as that I can't help comparing it with other things he has written. The story is completely autobiographical (even though I think most of his books are for the most part), and there are even a few pictures towards the end of him and his acquaintances at that time. It is as well-written as pretty much everything else he has done, and I think that people interested in Paris especially and some of the writers he was acquainted with will appreciate this very much. I think that writers will also appreciate it, as he practically explains the whole formula of how he wrote and gives many useful to tips that a lot of writers could benefit from. I don't really understand why he was friends with any of the writers he talks about, as almost every one of them seemed, if not quite idiotic, at least very eccentric, and he seemed like such a simple person with reasonable, healthy tastes and pursuits. I didn't really like the way he and his (first) wife spoke to each other, but it seems, if memory serves me right, that it was the same form of speech that most of his women spoke in his other books. I think, despite the simplicity with which he spoke and with the way he wrote (and what I just wrote about him), that he was a fairly complicated person, and even though he seems frank and honest throughout this book, I didn't feel like I got to know him very well. I believe he wrote this shortly before he killed himself, which increases the feeling that everything was not quite as it seemed, although he was writing about events that happened forty years previously, of course. There are a lot of memorable lines in this book, and very interesting first and lasting impressions of other famous people. I didn't really care for Paris, and this book doesn't make me want to go back, but despite this I think he did a good job of making it seem like a cozy and exciting place to be - at least in the period in question. Overall I liked this book, but I like most of the other things he wrote better.


Seneca Stoic Philosophy of Seneca
Seneca Stoic Philosophy of Seneca
by Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.90

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 18 April 2012
I was really looking forward to reading this book, as I remembered quite a few passages Montaigne quoted in his Essays that seemed profound, so Seneca struck me as someone to get acquainted with. And it did seem promising in the beginning. The first couple of essays (in this book) were pretty good, but it seemed to get worse and worse until finally I was just glad to be finished. The last few letters are almost the same and the author seemed to have quite a high opinion of himself and his philosophy, without justification in my opinion, and without really explaining his philosophy very well. It might seem strange to say it, based on the author's reputation, but I don't think he was very good at expressing himself. I agreed with a lot of what he wrote, but a lot of it was also nonsense, and I had the feeling that he didn't know exactly what he was trying to say, even though he wrote like he did. The introduction by the translator was informative and interesting, and he even warned the reader that they might not be getting what they were expecting. All in all, Seneca was no idiot, but he didn't strike me as especially bright or profound either - just annoying and full of conviction that wasn't so convincing.


Lonesome Dove
Lonesome Dove
by Larry McMurtry
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, brutal and great, 8 April 2012
This review is from: Lonesome Dove (Paperback)
This book proves without a doubt that Larry McMurtry is a great writer. This is the second time I have read this book and it was just as good as the first time. The story is about a group of men, most of them former Texas Rangers, who decide to be the first to drive cattle from southern Texas up into Montana. There are dozens of well-drawn, interesting characters - men and women, cowboys and Indians - and the author does an amazing job of intertwining all of their stories and not focussing on any of them for too long at a time, and also without leaving one story on a cliffhanger and going to another one where nothing much is happening, as is the case with so many bad (bestselling) writers. McMurtry has the great talent of being unpredictable, so one can never be sure of what is going to happen, including the death of one or all of his characters. He also has a great sense of humour, and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading this, although there is also plenty of death and heartache. Most of the characters are quite sympathetic, and the two main Rangers, Gus and Call, are incredibly memorable and lifelike. They made a miniseries later, with Robert Duvall as Gus and Tommy Lee Jones as Call - possibly two of the best casting calls ever made. If I have to pick out a negative point in the writing it would be that a few of the characters can be a bit annoying at times for their supreme ignorance and lack of imagination, but there certainly are such people (and I'm sure there were even a higher percentage at the time), and I think Mcmurtry has a very good grasp of the psychology of the common man in all its various forms. I believe that most great writers have also been great thinkers, which gave them the disadvantage of not being able to understand the "lesser" man, but McMurtry knows him well and uses it to great advantage. I don't know why anyone wouldn't like this book, unless it might be too brutal or "simple-minded" for them. Personally, I think it's probably the best novel written in the last fifty years.


A Treatise of Human Nature - Vol I: 1
A Treatise of Human Nature - Vol I: 1
by David Hume
Edition: Paperback
Price: 16.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Slow going, 26 Mar 2012
The copy I have is edited by D.G.C. McNabb, who gives plenty of helpful notes, but he unfortunately does not make this book any more interesting. I have to say that I started skimming about halfway through because I found very little of interest. Unlike The Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, which I liked, and which was written later, the arguments in this book are only scientific philosophical arguments, which I can't imagine would interest anyone apart from philosophers hung up on such arguments, and philosophy students looking for answers. The arguments and explanations are tedious and long, and I didn't learn anything. I would recommend the previously mentioned book to anyone interested in Hume.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10