Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Twenty-six-year-old Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin returns to Russia after spending several years at a Swiss sanatorium. Scorned by the society of St. Petersburgh for his idiocy, generosity and innocence, he finds himself at the centre of a struggle between a beautiful kept woman and a gorgeous, virtuous girl, both of whom win his affection. Unfortunately, Myshkin's very goodness seems to precipitate disaster, leaving the impression that, in a world obsessed with money, power, and sexual conquest, a sanatorium may be the only place for a saint.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Odyssey

Most likely written between 750 and 650 B.C., The Odyssey is an epic poem about the wanderings of the Greek hero Odysseus following his victory in the Trojan War.

Excellent reading!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

At the Back of the North Wind

Another fantastic book by George MacDonald!

Description from Wikipedia:

The book tells the story of a young country boy named Diamond. He is a very sweet little boy who makes joy everywhere he goes. He fights despair and gloom and brings peace to his family. One night, as he is trying to sleep in the loft, Diamond plugs up several holes in the barn wall to stop the wind from blowing in. However, he soon finds out that this is stopping the North Wind from going on her routes. Diamond befriends her, and North Wind lets him ride on her back, taking him on several adventures. Though the North Wind does goods deeds and helps people, she also does terrible things. In one of her mischievous acts, she sinks a ship. Yet everything bad leads to something good. The North Wind seems to be a representation of Pain and Death working according to God's will for something good.

On their adventures, North Wind brings Diamond to the country she lives in, a country without pain and death. Yet, he is brought only to a shadow of the real country at the back of the North Wind. The real country is open for him only after his death.

Book was first published in 1871

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pilgrim's Progress

No old book list would be complete without this classic from the pen of John Bunyan. Join Christian as he begins his spiritual quest to Heaven. Along the way he meets many interesting characters such as Worldly Wiseman, Evangelist, Faith, Hope, pliable and many more!

As with all old books I recommend, look for as old a copy as you can get, in the poetic old English rather than the "modern" versions that lose so much in the rewriting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lilith - George MacDonald

I'm not a reader of Science Fiction type books, but this one is great!

Book summery courtesy of Wikipedia:

Mr. Vane, the protagonist of Lilith, owns a library that seems to be haunted by the former librarian, who looks much like a raven from the brief glimpses he catches of the wraith. After finally encountering the supposed ghost, the mysterious Mr. Raven, Vane learns that Raven had known his father; indeed, Vane's father had visited the strange parallel universe from which Raven comes and goes and now resides therein. Vane follows Raven into the world through a mirror (this symbolistic realm is described as "the region of the seven dimensions", a term taken from Jacob Boehme).

Inside the world, Vane learns of a house of beds where the dreamers sleep until the end of the world in death: a good death, in which life is found. Vane's grandfather refused to sleep there and is, instead, forced to do battle with skeletons in a haunted wood. After a treacherous journey through a valley (where the moon is the only thing to keep him safe), Mr. Vane meets the Little Ones, children who never grow up, only get bigger and dumber, turning into "bags" or bad giants. After conversing with Lona, the eldest of the children, Mr. Vane decides to help them, and sets off to gather more information, although the Raven (who is also Adam) has warned Mr. Vane that he needs to sleep along with the dreamers before he can really help them.

While on his journey, he meets Lilith, the princess of Bulika. Vane, although nearly blinded by Lilith's beauty and charms, eventually leads the Little Ones in a battle against Bulika. Lona, Vane's love, turns out to be Lilith's daughter, and is killed by her own mother. Lilith, however, is captured and brought to Adam and Eve at the house of death, where they struggle to make her open her hand, fused shut, in which she holds the water the Little Ones need to grow. Only when she gives it up can Lilith join the sleepers in blissful dreams, free of sin. After a long struggle Lilith bids Adam cut her hand from her body; it is done, Lilith sleeps, and Vane is sent to bury the hand; water flows from the hole and washes the land over. Vane is then allowed to join the Little Ones, already asleep, in their dreaming. He takes his bed, next to Lona's, and finds true life in death.

First published in 1896