May 162014
 

Market9

 AT THE break of dawn when the stars dimmed and faint outlines began to stand out of the darkness, many hundreds of sweepers, dustmen, carpenters and clay-treaders came into the market-square and set to work with a will. They straightened out the fallen awnings, mended the bridges, stopped up the gaps in the fences and cleared away all the splinters and broken pots, so that the first rays of the sun found no trace of the night’s disturbance in Bukhara.

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May 152014
 

BukharaFood15

WHEN KHOJA Nasreddin reached the other end of the town he stopped, handed his ass to the care of a teahouse owner and hurried without loss of time to an eating-house.

It was crowded, full of smoke and the smell of cooking food. The stoves glowed hotly, and the flames lit up the sweating backs of the cooks who worked stripped to the waist. They bustled, shouted, jostled each other and boxed the ears of the kitchen-boys who dashed about wild-eyed, adding to the general crush, noise and confusion. Huge kettles bubbled under dancing wooden lids; thick steam gathered near the ceiling where clouds of flies were buzzing. In the smoky haze butter hissed and puttered furiously, the sides of red-hot braziers shone and the fat that fell from the spits on to the coals burned with a blue and smoky flame. Here they were cooking pilau, roasting shishliks, boiling tripe and baking pies stuffed with onion, pepper, meat and sheep’s-tail fat which melted in the oven and boiled in tiny bubbles as it seeped out of the pastry.

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May 132014
 

Book I

“They also relate that a simpleton was walking along holding on to the bridle of his ass which followed behind.”

(Scheherazade’s three hundred and eighty-second night.)

1

Bukhara2KHOJA NASREDDIN’S thirty-fifth birthday found him on the road.

He had spent over ten years in exile, wandering from town to town, from country to country, crossing seas and deserts, and sleeping where night overtook him: on the bare earth by a shepherd’s meagre camp-fire, in a crowded caravanserai, where all night long, in the dusty gloom, camels sigh and scratch themselves with a hollow tinkling of bells, or in a smoky, sooty tea-house among sprawling water-carriers, beggars, drivers and other poor folk, who at the break of dawn fill the bazaars and the narrow streets of the town with their shrill cries.

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May 302013
 

kropotkinstudyRUSSIAN LITERATURE. Ideals and Realities by Peter Kropotkin. ISBN 978-1-873976-04-3, ChristieBooks, PO Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 1ZS (Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles) NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £3.41  READ INSIDE!

UK : £3.41 ; USA : $5.16 ; Germany : €3,99 ; France :  €3,99 ; Spain:  €3,99 ; Italy :  €3,99 ; Japan : ¥ 507 ; Canada : CDN$ 5.16 ; Brazil : R$ 10,26

Kropotkinsmall‘Peter Kropotkin’s unique take on pre-Revolutionary Russian literature. A ‘must have’ reference for all intelligent Kindle-owning flâneurs, would-be Tverskoy Boulevardiers, students and aficionados of Russian culture…’ Farquhar McHarg

THIS book originated in a series of eight lectures on ‘Russian Literature during the Nineteenth Century’ which Peter Kropotkin delivered in March 1901, at the Lowell Institute, in Boston.

Given the impossibility of exhausting so wide a subject as Russian Literature within the limits of one book, Kropotkin focused his attention on modern literature. The early writers, down to Púshkin and Gógol — the founders of the modern literature — he deals with in a short introductory sketch. The most representative writers in poetry, the novel, the drama, political literature, and art criticism, are considered next, and round them the author has grouped the less prominent writers, of whom the most important are mentioned in short notes. Kropotkin is fully aware that each of the latter presents something individual and well worth knowing; and that some of the less-known authors have even succeeded occasionally in better representing a given current of thought than their more famous colleagues; but ‘Russian Literature. Ideals and Realities’ is a book intended to provide only a broad, general idea of the subject.

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Sep 222011
 


Will Wyatt’s fascinating and insightul 1978 documentary of his search for the real identity of the writer B. Traven (1882-1969), now known to be the German anarchist Ret Marut, editor of Der Ziegelbrenner – and Otto Fige, born in Poznan, 1882

Feb 052011
 

Boris Vian (1920-1959)

BORIS VIAN, singer, songwriter, essayist, playwright and jazz aficionado, was a legendary figure in Paris in the post-war years — ‘the Prince of Saint-Germain ‘ — who left an indelible mark on France’s intellectual and artistic life. His avant-garde music, novels and plays continue to inspire a generation of fans more than 50 years after his death. This (PDFISSUU) is the introduction to a new translation* of three of his plays — The Empire Builders, The Generals’ Tea Party and The Knacker’s ABC — by his friend, comrade, translator and fellow pataphysician, the late Simon Watson Taylor.

* These remain unpublished (by ChristieBooks) due to a copyright dispute with the executors of the Vian estate

BORIS VIAN  was only 39 when he died in 1959. He was an insomniac who sometimes wrote all night and then left home for a morning appointment without having slept at all. He once calculated that, should he die at the age of 40, he would have lived as long, in the waking state, as a man of 102 who had indulged in the average eight hours of sleep a night.

As a child he had suffered a severe attack of rheumatic fever, and thereafter his heart was in permanent danger. Indeed he had a presentiment that he would never reach that symbolic age of 40. But far from coddling his malady he led a hyperactive  life that covered an amazing range of frequently simultaneous creative activities.

At 22 Vian graduated from the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures as a civil engineer (and later profited, eccentrically, from this training by inventing and patenting an elastic wheel, and by building a whole storey on top of his penthouse apartment in Montmartre). But he fairly soon abandoned this profession in favour of jazz music, which continued to occupy his attention throughout his life, as musician, songwriter, prolific contributor to Le Jazz Hot and other specialized reviews, and eventually record company executive. While playing an accomplished jazz trumpet, Vian was also busy writing. In 1946 he began contributing light-hearted pieces, under the byline “Chronique  du Menteur”  (“The Liar ’s Chronicle”),  to Les Temps Modernes,  the literary review directed by Sartre and de Beauvoir. In the same year he published his first novel, Vercoquin et le plancton; in the following year he wrote and published two more novels, L’Ecume des jours (1) and L’Automne à Pékin. All three were greeted at the time with singularly little critical or popular acclaim, although the novelist-poet Raymond Queneau hailed L’Ecume des jours as “the most poignant of all contemporary love stories”. To remedy matters financially, Vian, in this same prolific year, wrote and published  the first of a series of raunchy  thrillers,  J’irai cracher sur vos tombes, which purported to be his translation of a work by an American ex-GI, Vernon Sullivan. This achieved an immediate succès de scandale and was followed in quick succession by three more Vernon Sullivans “translated” by Boris Vian. At the end of 1948 Vian – rather rashly, and against the advice of his friends and publisher – confessed his authorship of this sado-erotic quartet: the enraged literary critics never forgave him this exercise in duplicity and “bad taste”, and high- minded journalists pursued him to his own grave with taunts about his dual identity.

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Dec 142010
 

Billy Budd is a young man impressed from a merchant ship in 1797 and made foretopman on the British Navy frigate Avenger during the French revolutionary wars with England. In a conversation with the Captain, Edward Fairfax Vere, the ship’s master-at-arms, Jon Claggart, accuses Budd of mutinous conspiracy. Skeptical of the accusations (given Budd’s easy-going and cheerful bearing), Captain Vere invites Claggart to make the accusations in Budd’s presence. Given the opportunity to rebut the accusations, Budd, who suffers from an inability to speak under duress, is unable to do so. Frustrated and angry, Budd strikes Claggart, killing him. Though believing Budd innocent of mutiny and free of any intent to kill Claggart, Vere quickly convenes a drumhead court to try Budd . .

A powerful and moving film about the battle of good versus evil

Billy Budd by Herman Melville (text)

FILMS

Sep 082010
 

TO THE HONORABLE MISS S… AND OTHER STORIES by Ret Marut a.k.a. B. Traven With an introduction by Will Wyatt, Producer of the BBC documentary B. Traven: A Mystery Solved (See FILMS) (Translated from the German by Peter Silcock). Originally published in English by Cienfuegos Press, Sanday, Orkney (1981)

In 1916 Ret Marut, the author who later became famous under the nom de plume of B. Traven, published this collection of fifteen stories under the title TO THE HONOURABLE MISS S … Written during the years when he was an itinerant actor and journalist in Germany before and during World War I, most of these stories first appeared when Marut edited the anti-war journal, Der Ziegelbrenner (The Brickburner), in Munich. They foreshadow many of the themes and philosophy that characterise such great works as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Death Ship, The White Rose, The Bridge in the Jungle, and other novels and stories Traven wrote later in Mexico. This collection includes such tales as “The Story of a Nun,” in which a doctor marries a doomed woman whom he first meets as a ghost, and “The Silk Scarf,” a simple story with an acidulous ending. Other stories deal with such subjects as pretension, fashion, greed, exploitation, and the price of success, all themes that Traven further developed in his subsequent work. The title story, “To the Honourable Miss S…”, is a romantic love story told against the backdrop of trench warfare in World War I. The vivid realism of the war scenes is reminiscent of Enrich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

TO THE HONORABLE MISS S… AND OTHER STORIES (PDF)

Aug 072010
 
Biography of Rafael Barrett (Torrelavega, Spain, January 7, 1876 – Arcachon, France, December 17, 1910). a Spanish writer, narrator, essayist and journalist, who developed most of his literary production in Paraguay, becoming an important figure of the Paraguayan literature during the twentieth century. He is particularly known for his stories and essays with profound philosophical content that in some way anticipated existentialism. His philosophical and political statements in support of anarchism are also well known.

Three of the greatest South American writers have expressed their deep admiration for Barrett’s work and his influence on them. In Paraguay, Augusto Roa Bastos, in Argentina, Jorge Luís Borges and in Uruguay, José Enrique Rodó.

My Anarchism:Barret defined himself as anarchist from 1908 in his famous pamphlet My Anarchism.: The etymological sense of “absence of government” is enough for me. We have to destroy the spirit of authority and the prestige of the laws. That’s it. That would be the work of the free exam. The fools think that anarchy is disorder and that without government the society will always end in chaos. They don’t conceive other order that the one imposed from the exterior by the terror of the weapons. The anarchism, as I understand it, is reduced to the free political exam. [...] ¿So what we must do? Educate the others and us. Everything is resumed in the free exam. That our children examine our laws and despise them!

PDF

Aug 032010
 

Adventures in Bukhara are tales told with irreverent wit and earthy wisdom. Tyranny is its villain; liberty its hero. Like Robin Hood, Khoja Nasreddin is the champion of the poor and downtrodden who cannot champion themselves. There is no danger he will not brave, no disaster he cannot avert, no villain he cannot bring to ridicule or destruction.

These zestful tales are set in ancient Bukhara, then a great centre of Islamic power. Nasreddin, masquerading as a beggar, returns taxes to the oppressed, rescues a lovely maiden from the Emir’s harem, and with ingenuity confounds usurers, hypocrites and all tyrants. He outwits his enemies even at his own scheduled execution.

The Nasreddin stories are known throughout the Middle East and have touched cultures around the world. Superficially, most of the Nasreddin stories may be told as jokes or humorous anecdotes. They are told and retold endlessly in the teahouses and caravanserais of Asia and can be heard in homes and on the radio. But it is inherent in a Nasreddin story that it may be understood at many levels. There is the joke, followed by a moral – and usually the little extra which brings the consciousness of the potential mystic a little further on the way to realization.

The anecdotes attributed to him reveal a satirical personality with a biting tongue that he was not afraid to use even against the most tyrannical rulers of his time. He is the symbol of Middle-Eastern satirical comedy and the rebellious feelings of people against the dynasties that once ruled this part of the world.