Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious! “What’s to-day!” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps … Continue reading A Christmas Carol
When I was lent the book Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, I suspected I would have a mixed reaction to it. This fantasy novel is not meant to be taken seriously and has been lauded by many as hilarious. Yet it deals with what I feel are serious issues. It certainly made me laugh, yet in poking fun at religious names and events in the Bible.
This novel is one of President Obama’s favourite books. It is widely acclaimed as a book of meditative calm and spiritual intensity. Despite its success with a secular audience it unusually has a lot of openly religious content. Revd. John Ames is a Congregational minister and the chief character and narrator. He had experienced great sorrow for a long time in his life after the death of his wife and daughter. Many years later when 69 years of age however he meets and marries his second wife, Lila, who is much younger than him. The book has a quiet gentle almost mystical feeling of peaceful old age – a letting go of the things of life. John remembers grief but never without comfort, loneliness but never without peace.
This book has received critical literary acclaim as a masterpiece. The author gently captures the tragedy of war-time France, the conquered and the conquerors, and exposes the inner hearts and minds of the people in a way that is totally convincing. Daily emotional life is described in detail.
The social upheaval of war is made worse by the sudden invasion and escape from bombing. The plight of the refugees, their panicky exodus from Paris – villages invaded by exhausted hungry women and children battling to find a place to sleep, cars abandoned after running out of petrol. In the midst of this horror and turmoil of disorder, we see simple dignity of a modest couple searching for their lost son as well as greedy people trying to save their valuables and the murderous evil of the mob.
by Hans Fallada (Translated by Michael Hofmann) Penguin Modern Classics.
The author of this absorbing novel has created a story about a decent character, Otto Quangel, who with his wife lives in Berlin during the second-world war. Working in a factory and living amongst a people whose private misgivings and criticisms of their political leaders are silenced by fear, Otto, also has a daily horror of the possibility of being reported to the authorities for having a wrong political attitude or for having committed some minor misdeed against the state. Such accusations could well result in arrest and torture or even a death camp. Yet he is prepared to communicate his criticism of the government’s oppression and unjust social policies as well as their military conquests abroad. For the regime in seizing absolute power, have destroyed any vestiges of democracy.
I wonder how we would react in similar circumstances? Thank goodness I do not have to face such a test. But many people in the world today who live under dictatorship have to find some way of accommodating themselves to corruption in their society while maintaining their self-respect.