Book Book Review, Title Heart Of Darkness, Author Joseph Conrad, Rating 5.0,
Heart Of Darkness
In Joseph Conrad's classic novella, Heart of Darkness, the sailor Marlow serves as the author's version of Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, compelled to tell his story of conscience to whatever audience he finds. The story he tells is indeed dark, and indeed about the heart, albeit mostly the lack thereof. Conrad takes apart the European colonial enterprise, particularly the carving-up of Africa in the nineteenth century, and strips bare all of the tales of adventure from those times and places, along with the high-flown language of imperialism which was used to mask the utter barbarity of the undertaking.
Pocket Review, Title Broadway Danny Rose, Studio MGM/UA, Rating 4.5,
The top of my Woody Allen movie list is reserved for Broadway Danny Rose'. The movie opens with a scene at the Carnegie Deli, with a bunch of (actual) Borscht Belt comedians swapping stories on a lazy afternoon, and one of them begins to tell Danny's story. Danny is a very small-time theatrical agent in New York City, kind of the Charlie Brown of agents, who never seems to get a break. He works his butt off for small-time acts: Balloon folders, waterglass musicians,one-legged tap-dancers, stuttering ventriloquists, and the like.
Trent: What Happened at the Council, is a well-researched and well-told history of the Council of Trent, the mid-sixteenth-century Counter-Reformation centerpiece which produced the Catholic Church's response to the Protestant Reformation. This acount is carefully grounded in the complex politics of its times, placing the history of the Council in the balance- of-power tug-of-war, not just between reform movements within and without (Protestants) the Church, but among the nascent Ottoman Empire, the English Reformation, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States and the French monarchy.
Book Book Review, Title What Is Life?, Author Erwin Schrödinger, Rating 4.5,
What Is Life?
I recently re-read portions Erwin Schroedinger's amazing little book What is Life?, which was a post-war stimulus for a number of physicists to switch from physics to biology and look hard for a physical understanding of living organisms.
The old high school essay theme, "If I Ruled the World," endures long after the writing struggles of adolescents fade into adulthood. My current response is simple:
If I ruled the world,
I would step down;
one less autocrat,
one less crown.