Bohemian Rhapsody (by Lesley-Ann Jones)

“Bohemian Rhapsody.  The Definitive Biography of Freddie Mercury” (by Lesley-Anne Jones) (1997; recently re-issued) This biography (not to be confused with the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody – click here for our review) is a sympathetic look at the life of the Queen front-man, from his lonely boyhood as Farrokh Bulsara, diligent Parsee schoolboy at an Indian boarding school, to his lonely death at age 46 as Freddie Mercury, adored British rock star. Some of those from his Zoroastrian background do not see this as an upward trajectory – his cousin Diana said, “He gave up his family name.  He did not…

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Seiobo There Below (Laszlo Krasznahorkai)

Rublev's 'Troika"

Whereas Krasznahorkai’s  The Melancholy of Resistance  is a profound and hilarious whole, Seiobo There Below is a profound and melancholic collection of vignettes.  Each of the 17 short fiction pieces (numbered on the Contents page according to the Fibonacci sequence*) captures the inexpressible numinosity of artistic creation, the quality that lies just beyond our ken.  Krasznahorkai contemplates the ineffable in a heron’s stillness, the impossibility of comprehending the Acropolis, the ritualistic carving of a theatre mask, the never-resting practise of Noh, the magnificence of the Venus de Milo. A man’s insanity becomes manifest upon a viewing of Rublev’s Troika (or is it…

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The Righteous Mind

December 18, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, Non-Fiction, POLITICS, RELIGION, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

'Resurrection of the Righteous and Coronation of the Virgin' by Francesco Bassano the Younger

(Or “Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion“) (written by Jonathon Haidt) (2012) Yes, TVC knows that our reviews are not up-to-date: this book was published in 2012 and it is now several years hence.  Note that we reviewed Indoctrinaire (1971) this year, as well as A Farewell to Arms (1929), and Those Barren Leaves (1925) for example. Why, we only got around to reviewing The Brothers Karamazov (1880) last year. So give us a break – especially since recent events across the world (particularly Tr(i)umphalism, Trump Derangement Syndrome, Brexit, the crisis in Syria, and the Yellow-Jacket revolt in France) have made…

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Thomas Carlyle

December 4, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Carlyle by Millais

(December 4, 1795 – February 5, 1881) “His venerable appearance, his utter independence, his doomladen view of the folly and triviality of the world, his powerful and idiosyncratic command of language, to which a strong Scottish accent lent unfamilar emphasis…were all manifestations of genius to which the Victorian imagination readily responded…”* “Injustice pays itself with frightful compound-interest.”^ “Robespierre was sitting on a chair, with pistol-shot blown through not his head but his under-jaw; the suicidal hand had failed. With prompt zeal, not without trouble, we gather these wrecked Conspirators; fish up even Henriot and Augustin, bleeding and foul; pack them…

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Joseph Conrad

December 3, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Born 3 December, 1857; died 3 August 1924 Mistah Kurtz might be dead, but Joseph Conrad lives on in his great novels: Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Under Western Eyes, The Secret Agent, and, of course, Nostromo. Walter Allen, in The English Novel, thought that a good case could be made out for considering it the greatest novel in English in the 20th Century, a claim made even more remarkable by the fact that English was Conrad’s third language.  A great moraliser (a favourite saying of his was that ‘nobody can escape his fate‘), Conrad could be wise and sharp…

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