Aeneas vs. Ernaux

download.jpgI recently read Virgil’s Aeniad and despite the super-glossy modernization by Fagles, it was a good read. Furthermore it fulfilled one of those major milestones of literature life forces on us.

Unfortunately, despite being judged the best book I had read in 2019 (to date), The Aeneid was just another violent epic full of cleaved breastbones, rolling heads, and buckets of blood and gore.

The first gory epic I read was Chanson de Roland. At a very young age I’m sure the carnage was great fun (and prepared me for Ben Vereen on Broadway years later).Since then I have read epics such as Beowulf (in Old English),  the Iliad and the Odyssey, and The Lord of the Rings.

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Under Fire


After watching a unit of Moroccan soldiers pass by—black Africans who will cut off a man’s head in combat—Henri Barbusse writes:

‘No doubt they’re a different race from us .. In fact, they’re real soldiers.”

“We are not soldiers, … we’re men.”

They are men, good fellows of all kinds, rudely torn away from the joy of life. Like any other men whom you take in the mass, they are ignorant and of narrow outloook, full of a sound common sense—which some-times gets off the rails—disposed to be led and to do as they are bid, enduring uder hardships, long suffering.

They are simple men further simplified, in whom the merely primitive instincts have been accentuated by the force of circumstances—the instinct of self-preservation, the hard-gripped hope of living through, the joy of food, of drink, and of sleep. And at intervals they are cries and dark shudders of humanity that issue from the silence and the shadows of their great hearts.

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Français et Musulmans

imgres.jpgThe American Taliban was a novel about a young man seeking a fuller, more spiritual life, who through a series of seemingly harmless events ends up training and presumably fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11.

Submission by Michel Houellebecq is the near-future story of how, through an unforeseen string of political events, the Moslem Brotherhood comes to power in France. Many of the changes the new Moslem government make are commonly understood but the results of those changes are interesting to contemplate: cut off a few hands and crime goes way down; remove all women from the workforce and unemployment is solved; grant pesky intellectuals a pension three times greater than they might hope for and the opposition retires to the countryside to raise goats.

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