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Around the world in 80 books – SCAVANSIOR

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It’s been a while since the last post. Life doesn’t get any easier, and somehow between the 9 to 6 and maintaining my reading habit, I decided that expressing my thoughts and feelings about the craft had to take a back seat.

While I’m juggling 5 books at the moment, reviews will be slow because I’m putting my work first. Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoy this book and review.


Around the world in 80 books
by David Damrosch

get it here

SUMMARY OF THE BOOK

An engaging and enlightening journey around the globe through classic and contemporary works of literature that speak to each other and to the world around them

Inspired by Jules Verne’s hero Phileas Fogg, David Demrosch, chair of Harvard University’s Department of Comparative Literature and founder of the Harvard Institute of World Literature, decided to defy travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic by researching eighty exceptional books from around the world. Traversing a literary route from London to Venice, Tehran and beyond, through authors from Wolfe and Dante to Nobel laureates Orhan Pamuk, Vole Sainka, Mo Yan and Olga Takarchuk, he explores how these works have shaped our understanding of the world and the ways in which the world escapes into literature.

To outline the vast landscape of world literature today, Damrosch explores how writers live in two very different worlds: the world of their personal experiences and the world of books that enabled great writers to give shape and meaning to their lives. In his literary cartography, Damrosch includes compelling contemporary works as well as timeless classics, gritty crime fiction, and exciting works of fantasy and fairy tales that introduce us children to the world we enter. Taken together, these eighty titles offer us a new perspective on enduring problems, from the social consequences of epidemics to the rise of inequality, which Thomas More developed. Utopia struggle, as well as the patriarchal structures within and against which many of the heroines in these books have to struggle – from the works of Murasaki Shikibu a millennium ago to Margaret Atwood today.

Around the world in 80 books it is a global invitation to look beyond ourselves and our surroundings, and to see our world and its literature in a new way.

BOOK REVIEW
















Rating: 4 out of 5.

A review copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I knew from the beginning that it was very likely that I would DNF this book. It’s interesting, but definitely a book you either spend months or years poring over or skip and pick up. In the end, this book reads like a research paper or a monologue and borders on reading some textbook on literary analysis. Even so, I really enjoyed the author’s introduction where he explained how the idea came about, the power of books, and how hard it was to find a great translation of a foreign text.

He talks about Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, starting in London and traveling through Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America and finally America, choosing 5 famous books from each region that date from the same anciently, as “Hebrew”. Bible to a later version My name is Red Orkhan Pamuk.

Let me explain what this book is about:

From London:
For most of the books here I see a correlation with London as it was the setting, but all I remember is the drama between the writers and that one rather short chapter of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, of course I’m biased. Most of these books were written around the same era, as there was a quarrel between the writers. Although I am very interested in reading Mrs. Dalloway. All the chapters were interconnected so some parts make me wonder which book he was referring to.

From Paris:
While in Paris, the author mentioned the names of various people who made Paris their home, in particular, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Senegalese poet and future prime minister Léopold Sedar Senghor, and many others lived across from Rive Gauche. It was this line that made me read the chapter with rose colored glasses. The thought of living at the same time.

From Krakow:
This chapter begins with the author’s memories of his grandparents who were in Auschwitz. I was surprised that an author would write about his family’s experiences in a book about books around the world. I don’t remember much from this chapter except that I found the concept of the periodic table very interesting. The way each story was named after an element made me very curious, but not enough to want to read the whole book.

I believe that this book is one of a kind. I’ve heard of competitions where readers try to read a book from each country, and of readers actively diversifying their reading and trying to find voices other than their own. This book is perfect for anyone interested in armchair travel or expanding their cultural and literary knowledge.

So far I’m over 100 pages into this 432 page book. I can’t say I have the interest or attention span to read the author’s description and thoughts on each book, but I do see a few that I’d be interested in adding to my ever-growing TBR. Although I am intrigued and want to read more, reading such an e-book requires too much time and patience that I do not have. How others could complete this book cover to cover is a mystery to me.

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