Mr. Norris Changes Trains / Christopher Isherwood

(also known as The Last of Mr. Norris in the US Edition.)

This short novel was an excellent read.

The character of Arthur Norris, a worldly, likable scoundrel, is vividly and engagingly portrayed in Isherwood's limpid style. The narrator is a rather bland fellow, and constantly reminded me of I Am A Camera, the title of a play based on Goodbye to Berlin, another work of Isherwood's.

Other characters are equally well-portrayed, and I understand what made Isherwood's depiction of late Weimar Berlin so universally acclaimed. He has a gentle but apt way of describing scenes and dialogue.

I saw others complain about the "vague plot", but I rather think this a strong point of the novel; sure, it's no suspense mystery! But Isherwood skillfully interweaves multiple sub-plots -- Baron von Pregnitz's predilections, Norris and the Communist Party, Otto and the Nazi brownshirts, and the limited angles of Helen Pratt and Frl. Schroeder -- and they all add up to an excellent landscape portrait of that wondrously doomed era.

ืœืžื” ืื™ื ื™ ื”ื•ืœืš ืœื”ืคื’ื ื”

ื™ื“ื™ื“ื” ืฉืืœื” ืื•ืชื™ ืื ืื’ื™ืข ืœื”ืคื’ื ื” ื‘ืžื•ืฆ"ืฉ. ื”ื ื” ืชืฉื•ื‘ืชื™:
ื—ื•ืฉืฉื ื™ ืฉืœื.

ื›ื›ืœ ืฉืื ื™ ืžื ืกื” ืœืฉื›ื ืข ืืช ืขืฆืžื™ ืฉืื™ืŸ ื–ื” ื›ืš, ืื™ื ื™ ืžืฆืœื™ื— ืœืกืชื•ืจ ืืช ื”ืชืจืฉืžื•ืชื™ ื”ืขืžื•ืงื” ืฉืื™ืŸ ืฉื•ื ื”ืฉืคืขื” ืœื”ืคื’ื ื•ืช ื‘ื™ืฉืจืืœ. ืžืฉืžืขื•ืชื” ืฉืœ ื”ืคื’ื ื” ื ื’ื–ืจืช ืžืŸ ื”ื™ื“ื™ืขื” ืฉืœื ืžืขืŸ ื”ื”ืคื’ื ื” (ื‘ืžืงืจื” ื–ื”, ื ื‘ื—ืจื™ ื”ืฆื™ื‘ื•ืจ ืฉืœื ื•, ื•ืกืคืฆื™ืคื™ืช ื”ืžืžืฉืœื” ื”ืžื›ื”ื ืช) ืื›ืคืช ืžื“ืขืชื• (ืื• ื–ืขืžื•) ืฉืœ ื”ืฆื™ื‘ื•ืจ. ืœื ืžืขื ื™ ื”ืคื’ื ื” ืฆื™ื ื™ื™ื ื›ืžื• ืคื•ืœื™ื˜ื™ืงืื™ื, ืื›ืคืช ืืš ื•ืจืง ืื ื™ืฉ ื”ืชืืžื” ื‘ื™ืŸ ื”ื”ืคื’ื ื” ืœื‘ื™ืŸ ื”ืชื ื”ื’ื•ืช ืืœืงื˜ื•ืจืœื™ืช. ื•ื”ื™ื•ืช ืฉื‘ื‘ื™ืจื•ืจ ืื™ืŸ ื”ืชืืžื” ื›ื–ื• ื‘ื™ืฉืจืืœ (ืขื™ื™ื ื™ ื‘ืชื•ืฆืื•ืช ื›ืœ ืžืขืจื›ื•ืช ื”ื‘ื—ื™ืจื•ืช ืžืื– 1992), ื•ื”ื™ื•ืช ืฉื”ืคื•ืœื™ื˜ื™ืงืื™ื ื‘ื‘ื™ืจื•ืจ ื”ื‘ื™ื ื• ื–ืืช ืžื–ืžืŸ, ืื™ืŸ ื›ืœ ื”ืฉืคืขื” ืœื”ืคื’ื ื•ืช ื‘ื™ืฉืจืืœ.

ื ื•ืชืจื” ืœื ื• ืืš ื•ืจืง ื”ื”ืฆื‘ืขื” ื‘ืงืœืคื™; ื•ืžื“ื™ ืžืขืจื›ืช ื‘ื—ื™ืจื•ืช ืื ื—ื ื• ื ื•ื›ื—ื™ื ื‘ื›ืš ืฉื”ื™ืฉืจืืœื™ื ืžืจื•ืฆื™ื ืžืื™ื›ื•ืช ื”ืฉืœื˜ื•ืŸ ืฉืœื”ื. ืžื™ื™ืืฉ ืžืื•ื“, ื›ืŸ, ืื‘ืœ ืื™ืŸ ื˜ืขื ืœื”ืขืžื™ื“ ืคื ื™ื ืฉืื™ืŸ ื–ื” ื›ืš.

- ืืกืฃ

ืืžืฉื™ื ื‘ืชื™ืื˜ืจื•ืŸ

(for the Hebrew-challenged: the following are brief reviews of some recent theatrical productions)


1. ืžืฉืจืชื ืฉืœ ืฉื ื™ ืื“ื•ื ื™ื / ื’ื•ืœื“ื•ื ื™ / ื”ืชื™ืื˜ืจื•ืŸ ื”ืงืืžืจื™
ื”ืงื•ืžื“ื™ื” ื”ื™ื“ื•ืขื” ืฉืœ ื’ื•ืœื“ื•ื ื™, ืฉื›ืœ-ื›ื•ืœื” ืžื—ื•ื•ื” ืœืžืกื•ืจืช ื”ืงื•ืžื“ื™ื” ื“ืœ'ืืจื˜ื”, ื–ื›ื•ืจื” ืื•ืœื™ ืœื—ืœืงื›ื ืžื”ื”ืคืงื” ื‘ื›ื™ื›ึผื•ื‘ ืฉืžื•ืืœ ื•ื™ืœื•ื–'ื ื™ ื‘ืกื•ืฃ ืฉื ื•ืช ื”ืฉืžื•ื ื™ื. ื”ืงืืžืจื™ ื”ืขืœื• ื”ืคืงื” ืžื‘ืจื™ืงื” ืœื’ืžืจื™, ืฉืžื ืฆืœืช ืืช ืžืœื•ื ื”ื›ืฉืจื•ืŸ ื”ืงื•ืžื™ ื”ื•ื™ืจื˜ื•ืื•ื–ื™ ืฉืœ ื“ืจื•ืจ ืงืจืŸ (ืื ื™ ื”ื•ืœืš ืฉื‘ื™ ืื—ืจื™ื• ืžืื– ื”ื’ื™ืœื•ื ื”ืžื•ืคืœื ืฉืœื• ืืช ืœื™ื™ื“ื ื˜ืœ ืฉืœ ื—ื ื•ืš ืœื•ื™ืŸ), ื‘ื‘ื™ืžื•ื™ ื™ืฆื™ืจืชื™ ื•ืขื•ืœืฅ ืฉืœ ืžื•ื ื™ ืžื•ืฉื•ื ื•ื‘. ืกืฆื™ื ื•ืช ื”ืคื ื˜ื•ืžื™ืžื” ื•ื”ืงื•ืžื“ื™ื” ื”ืคื™ื–ื™ืช ืžืขื•ืœื•ืช.

ื”ื”ืคืงื” ืœื ืคื•ืกื—ืช ืขืœ ืฉื•ื ื”ื–ื“ืžื ื•ืช ืœืงืจื•ืฅ ืืœ ื”ืงื”ืœ, ืœืฉื‘ื•ืจ ืืช "ื”ืงื™ืจ ื”ืจื‘ื™ืขื™", ื•ืœืฉืจื‘ื‘ ืจืžื™ื–ื•ืช ื•ืฆื™ื˜ื•ื˜ื™ื ืืœ ืชืจื‘ื•ืช ื™ืฉืจืืœื™ืช ืขื›ืฉื•ื•ื™ืช. ื‘ื”ืฆื’ื” ื”ื–ื•, ื–ื” ืขื•ื‘ื“ ื ื”ื“ืจ. ืื™ืฆื™ืง ื›ื”ืŸ, ืฉืื•ืชื• ืื ื™ ืจื•ืื” ืœืจืืฉื•ื ื”, ืžืคื’ื™ืŸ ืžืฉื—ืง ืงืืžืคึผื™ ืœืขื™ืœื, ืฉืžืชืื™ื ื›ื›ืคืคื” ืœื”ื’ื–ืžื” ื”ืžื›ื•ื•ื ืช ืฉื’ืœื•ืžื” ื‘ื›ืชื™ื‘ืช ืงื•ืžื“ื™ื” ื“ืœ'ืืจื˜ื” ื‘ืžืื” ื”-18.

ืื ืชืจืื• ืงื•ืžื“ื™ื” ืื—ืช ื”ืฉื ื”, ืจื•ืฆื• ืœื”ืคืงื” ื”ื–ื•.

2. ื—ื•ืจืฃ ืžืชื—ืช ืœืฉื•ืœื—ืŸ / ืจื•ืœื ื“ ื˜ื•ืคื•ืจ / ื”ืชื™ืื˜ืจื•ืŸ ื”ืงืืžืจื™
ืงื•ืžื“ื™ื” ืขื›ืฉื•ื•ื™ืช ืžืืช ื˜ื•ืคื•ืจ (Roland Topor), ืขืœ ืžืชืจื’ืžืช ืงืฉืช-ื™ื•ื ืฉื ืืœืฆืช ืœื”ืฉื›ื™ืจ ืืช ื”ื—ืœืœ ืฉืžืชื—ืช ืœืฉื•ืœื—ืŸ ื”ืขื‘ื•ื“ื” ืฉืœื” ืœื“ื™ื™ืจ ืžืฉื ื”, ืขื•ืœื” ื—ื“ืฉ ืžื—ื‘ืจ ื”ืขืžื™ื (ื‘ืขื™ื‘ื•ื“ ื”ื™ืฉืจืืœื™), ืกื ื“ืœืจ ื‘ืžืงืฆื•ืขื•. ื”ื•ื ื—ื™ ืžืชื—ืช ืœืฉื•ืœื—ืŸ, ืขื•ื‘ื“, ืžื‘ืฉืœ, ืฉืจ. ื‘ืจืงืข ื™ืฉ ืขืœื™ืœืช ืžืฉื ื” ื‘ื ืืœื™ืช ืœื’ืžืจื™ ืขืœ ื‘ื•ืก-ืžื˜ืจื™ื“-ืžื™ื ื™ืช, ืžื” ืฉื›ืžื•ื‘ืŸ ืžืฉืžืฉ ืจืงืข ืœืกื’ื•ืœื•ืชื™ื• ื”ืชืจื•ืžื™ื•ืช ืฉืœ ืกื ื“ืœืจื ื•.

ืžืกื™ื˜ื•ืืฆื™ื” ืงื•ืžื™ืช ื™ืคื” ื•ืžืงื•ืจื™ืช, ืจื•ื•ื™ื™ืช ืคื•ื˜ื ืฆื™ืืœ, ืœื ื”ืฉื›ื™ืœ ื˜ื•ืคื•ืจ ืœืจืงื•ื— ืขืœื™ืœื” ืžืขื ื™ื™ื ืช, ื•ื”ืžื—ื–ื” ื ื•ืกืข ื‘ื“ื™ื•ืง ืขืœ ื”ืคืกื™ื ืฉืืชื ืžื“ืžื™ื™ื ื™ื ื‘ืขืงื‘ื•ืช ืชื™ืื•ืจื™ ืœืขื™ืœ. ื•ื—ื‘ืœ, ื—ื‘ืœ ืžืื•ื“, ื›ื™ ืืช ื”ืกื ื“ืœืจ ืžืฉื—ืง ื•ื™ืจื˜ื•ืื•ื– ืงื•ืžื™ ืื—ืจ -- ืืœื•ืŸ ื“ื”ืŸ -- ืฉืื•ืชื• ืจืื™ืชื™ ืœืจืืฉื•ื ื” ืœืคื ื™ ื›ืขืฉื•ืจ ื‘"ืจื•ื•ืงื™ื ื•ืจื•ื•ืงื•ืช" ืžืืช ื—ื ื•ืš ืœื•ื™ืŸ, ืžืื– ื ื”ื ื™ืชื™ ืžืžื ื• ื’ื ื‘"ื”ืžืคื™ืงื™ื" ื•ื‘"ื”ื ืคืฉ ื”ื˜ื•ื‘ื” ืžืกืฆ'ื•ืืŸ" (ืฉื ื™ื”ื ื‘ืชื™ืื˜ืจื•ืŸ ื”ืงืืžืจื™), ืื‘ืœ ื‘ื”ืคืงื” ื”ื–ื• ื”ื•ื ื”ืชืขืœื” ืขืœ ืขืฆืžื• -- ืื ื™ ืžื ื—ืฉ ืขืœ ืคื™ ืฉื ืžืฉืคื—ืชื• ืฉืื™ืŸ ืœื• ืฉื•ืจืฉื™ื ืจื•ืกื™ื™ื (ืžื™ืฉื”ื• ื™ื•ื“ืข?), ื•ืขืœ ื›ืŸ ืžืจืฉื™ืžื” ืคื™ ื›ืžื” ืื™ื›ื•ืช ื”ืžืฉื—ืง ืฉืœื• ื‘ื“ืžื•ืช ื”ืกื ื“ืœืจ, ื•ืœื ืจืง ืขืฆื ื–ื” ืฉื”ื•ื ืžื–ื™ื™ืฃ ืžื‘ื˜ื ืจื•ืกื™ ืžืฉื›ื ืข, ืืœื ื’ื ืžื™ืžื™ืงื” ืงื˜ื ื” -- ืชื ื•ืขื•ืช ืคื ื™ื, ื™ื“ื™ื™ื, ื”ืขื•ื•ื™ื•ืช ืงื˜ื ื•ืช -- ืจื•ืกื™ืช ื‘ืชื›ืœื™ืช.

ื—ื‘ืœ, ืื ื›ืŸ, ืฉื”ืžื—ื–ื” ืœื ืžืชืจื•ืžื, ืขื ื”ืชื—ืœื” ืžื‘ื˜ื™ื—ื” ื•ืฉื—ืงืŸ ืจืืฉื™ ื ื”ื“ืจ. ืœื™ืžื•ืจ ื’ื•ืœื“ืฉื˜ื™ื™ืŸ ื‘ืชืคืงื™ื“ ื”ืžืชืจื’ืžืช ืžืฉื—ืงืช ืœื ืจืข, ื•ื”ื™ื ืืžื ื ืืฉื” ื ืื” ื‘ื”ื—ืœื˜, ืืš ืื™-ืืคืฉืจ ืœื‘ื ื•ืช ื”ืฆื’ื” ืจืง ืขืœ ืจื’ืœื™ื” ื”ื—ืฉื•ืคื•ืช ืฉืœ ื’ื‘' ื’ื•ืœื“ืฉื˜ื™ื™ืŸ.

3. ืืžื“ืื•ืก / ืคื™ื˜ืจ ืฉื™ื™ืคืจ / ื”ืชื™ืื˜ืจื•ืŸ ื”ืงืืžืจื™
ืืช ื”ืกืจื˜ "ืืžื“ืื•ืก" ืฉืœ ืžื™ืœื•ืฉ ืคื•ืจืžืŸ ื•ื“ืื™ ื”ื–ื“ืžืŸ ืœื›ื ืœืจืื•ืช; ืื ื™ ืื•ื”ื‘ ืื•ืชื• ืžืื•ื“, ื•ื—ื•ืฉื‘ ืฉืฉื™ื™ืคืจ ื•ืคื•ืจืžืŸ ื”ืฉื›ื™ืœื• ืœืขื‘ื“ ืืช ื”ื’ืจืขื™ืŸ ื”ื–ื”ื•ื‘ ืฉื™ืฆืจ ืคื•ืฉืงื™ืŸ ื‘ืฉืขืชื•, ื‘"ื˜ืจืื’ื“ื™ื” ื”ืงื˜ื ื”" "ืžื•ืฆืืจื˜ ื•ืกืืœื™ื™ืจื™", ืœื›ื“ื™ ืื’ื“ื” ืžื•ื“ืจื ื™ืช ื ื”ื“ืจืช, ื•ืค' ืžืืจื™ ืื‘ึผืจื”ื ืขื•ื˜ื” ืืช ื“ืžื•ืชื• ืฉืœ ืกืืœื™ื™ืจื™ ื‘ืื•ืคืŸ ืžืคืขื™ื -- "ืื ื™ ื”ืงื“ื•ืฉ ื”ืžื’ืŸ ืขืœ ื”ื‘ื™ื ื•ื ื™ื™ื", ื”ื•ื ืื•ืžืจ...

ื•ื‘ื›ืŸ, ื›ืฉืฉืžืขืชื™ ืฉื”ืงืืžืจื™ ืžืขืœื” ื”ืคืงื” ืฉืœ ืืžื“ืื•ืก, ื™ื“ืขืชื™ ืฉืืœืš ืœืจืื•ืช; ื›ืฉืฉืžืขืชื™ ืขื•ื“ ืฉืืช ืžื•ืฆืืจื˜ ื™ืฉื—ืง ืื™ืชื™ ื˜ื™ืจืืŸ, ืื•ืœื™ ื’ื“ื•ืœ ื”ืฉื—ืงื ื™ื ืฉืœ ื“ื•ืจื•, ื”ื–ื›ื•ืจ ืœื˜ื•ื‘ ื‘ืชื•ืจ ื”ืžืœื˜ ื—ื“-ืคืขืžื™, ื•ื‘ืžืงื‘ื™ืœ ื‘ื”ื•ืคืขื” ืงื•ืžื™ืช ื•ื™ืจื˜ื•ืื•ื–ื™ืช ื‘"ื™ืชื•ืฉ ื‘ืจืืฉ" ืฉืœ ืค'ื™ื“ื•ึน -- ืื– ื›ื‘ืจ ืคื™ืชื—ืชื™ ืกืงืจื ื•ืช ืฉืœ ืžืžืฉ.

ื•ื‘ื›ืŸ, ื˜ื™ืจืืŸ ืœื ืžืื›ื–ื‘; ื”ื™ื•ืชื• ืคืกื ืชืจืŸ ืžื•ื›ืฉืจ ืžื•ืขื™ืœื” ืžืื•ื“ ืœืืžื™ื ื•ืช ื”ืžืฉื—ืง, ื›ืžื•ื‘ืŸ, ื•ื”ื•ื ืœื•ื‘ืฉ ืืช ื“ืžื•ืชื• ื”ืžื•ืจื›ื‘ืช ืฉืœ ืžื•ืฆืืจื˜ ื‘ืื•ืชื” ืื™ื ื˜ืœื™ื’ื ืฆื™ื” ื ื”ื“ืจืช ืฉื‘ื” ืœื‘ืฉ ืืช ื”ืžืœื˜. ื™ืฆื—ืง ื—ื–ืงื™ื”, ืžืฆื•ื™ืŸ ื›ืชืžื™ื“, ืžืคื™ืง ืืช ื”ืžืงืกื™ืžื•ื ืžืกืืœื™ื™ืจื™, ื•ืืžื™ืจ ืงืจื™ืืฃ (ืฉืžืื•ื“ ืœื ืื”ื‘ืชื™ ื›ืœืืจื˜ืก ื‘"ื”ืžืœื˜") ืžืฆื˜ื™ื™ืŸ ื‘ืชืคืงื™ื“ ื”ืงื™ืกืจ. ืžื•ืžืœืฅ.

ืžืกืข ืœื™ื“ ื—ื ื” / ื›ืจืžื™ืช ื’ื™ื

ืฉื“ืจื ื™ืช ื”ืจื“ื™ื• ื•ื”ื˜ืœื•ื™ื–ื™ื” ื•ื”ืžืชืจื’ืžืช ื”ืžืฆื•ื™ื ืช ื›ืจืžื™ืช ื’ื™ื ืžืกืคืจืช ืขืœ ื™ืœื“ื•ืชื” ื‘"ืงื™ื‘ื•ืฅ ื”ืงื•ืžื•ื ื™ืกื˜ื™ ื”ื™ื—ื™ื“ ื‘ืขื•ืœื" -- ื™ื“ ื—ื ื”. ื‘ืขืฆื ื”ืกืคืจ ื”ื•ื ื™ื•ืชืจ ืกื™ืคื•ืจื• ืฉืœ ื”ืงื™ื‘ื•ืฅ ืžืืฉืจ ืฉืœ ื’ื™ื -- ืงื˜ืขื™ ื–ื›ืจื•ื ื•ืช ืžื™ืœื“ื•ืชื” ื•ืžืขืœื•ืžื™ื” ืžืื™ื™ืจื™ื ืคืจืงื™ื ื‘ืชื•ืœื“ื•ืช ื”ืงื™ื‘ื•ืฅ. ื“ื’ืฉ ืจื‘ ื ื™ืชืŸ, ื›ืžืชื‘ืงืฉ, ืœืฆื“ ื”ืื™ื“ืื•ืœื•ื’ื™ ืฉืœ ื”ื—ื™ื™ื ื‘ืงื™ื‘ื•ืฅ, ืขืœ ืชื”ืคื•ื›ื•ืชื™ื•, ื•ืขืœ ื”ืžืชื— ื”ืจื‘ ื‘ื™ืŸ ืื ืฉื™ ื”ืงื™ื‘ื•ืฅ ืœื‘ื™ืŸ ื”ื’ื•ืคื™ื ื”ืื™ื“ืื•ืœื•ื’ื™ื™ื ืฉืืœื™ื”ื ื”ืฉืชื™ื™ื›ื• -- ื”ื’ืจืขื™ืŸ, ื”ืงื™ื‘ื•ืฅ ื”ืžืื•ื—ื“, ืื ืฉื™ ืžืฉื” ืกื ื”, ื•ื”ืžืคืœื’ื” ื”ืงื•ืžื•ื ื™ืกื˜ื™ืช ื”ื™ืฉืจืืœื™ืช.

ื”ืกื™ืคื•ืจ ืžืขื ื™ืŸ ื•ื›ืชื•ื‘ ื”ื™ื˜ื‘, ื•ื ืฉืขืŸ ืขืœ ืขื‘ื•ื“ื” ืืจื›ื™ื•ื ื™ืช ืจื‘ื”, ื›ืžื• ื’ื ืขืœ ืจืื™ื•ื ื•ืช ืขื ื—ืœืง ืžื”ืžืขื•ืจื‘ื™ื ืขืฆืžื. ื’ื™ื ืžืฉื›ื™ืœื” ืœื›ืชื•ื‘ ืžืชื•ืš ืืžืคืชื™ื” ื•ื”ื‘ื ื” ืœื›ืœ ื”ืฆื“ื“ื™ื ื‘ืžื—ืœื•ืงื•ืช ื”ืจื‘ื•ืช ืฉื”ื™ื ืžืชืืจืช, ื•ืขื ื–ืืช ืœื ืœื”ืกืชื ื•ื•ืจ ืžืŸ ื”ืจื˜ื•ืจื™ืงื” ืฉืœ ืืฃ ืฆื“.

ืœืžื“ืชื™ ืชื•ืš ื›ื“ื™ ืงืจื™ืื” ืคืจืง ืžืขื ื™ืŸ ื‘ืชื•ืœื“ื•ืช ื”ื™ื™ืฉื•ื‘ ื‘ื›ืœืœ, ื•ืœื ืจืง ื”ืคืœื’ื™ื ื”ืกื•ืฆื™ืืœื™ืกื˜ื™ื™ื ืฉื‘ื•. ื‘ืžื™ื•ื—ื“ ื”ื™ื” ืžืขื ื™ืŸ ืœืงืจื•ื ืขืœ ื”ื”ืฉืคืขื” ื”ืขืฆื•ืžื” ืฉื”ื™ืชื” ืœืžื” ืฉื›ื•ื ื” "ืžืฉืคื˜ื™ ืคืจืื’" (ื•ื‘ืžื™ื•ื—ื“ ืžืฉืคื˜ื• ืฉืœ ืžืจื“ื›ื™ ืื•ืจืŸ), ื‘ืฉื ืช 1952, ืขืœ ื”ื—ื™ื™ื ื”ืคื•ืœื™ื˜ื™ื™ื ื‘ื™ืฉืจืืœ, ื•ืขืœ ื”ืฉืชื™ื™ื›ื•ืชื ื”ืจืขื™ื•ื ื™ืช ื•ื”ืืจื’ื•ื ื™ืช ืฉืœ ืื ืฉื™ื ื‘ื™ืฉืจืืœ ื”ืจื—ื•ืงื”.

ืœืžื™ ืฉืžืชืขื ื™ืŸ ื‘ื ื•ืฉืื™ื ื”ืœืœื•, ืื ื™ ืžืžืœื™ืฅ ื‘ื—ื•ื.

Jane Eyre / Charlotte Bronte

I finally got around to rereading Jane Eyre. I had read it more than 20 years ago, in a Hebrew translation, and had been far too young to appreciate it then.

I found Bronte's writing excellent, and her style pleasing. I particularly enjoyed her keen descriptions of Jane's experiences in the first half of the novel -- at Gateshead, at Lowood, and at Thornfield before the mutual confession of love.

Those descriptions show Bronte to have been an astute observer of children and adults alike, and the character - I mean the personality and fiber -- of Jane herself is refreshing, vivid, and always a little surprising.

The second half was less enjoyable, and in particular I felt the whole section with the Rivers family at Moor House was too long by half, and rather less spirited than the first half of the novel.

I shall probably try one of the other novels by Bronte at some later point.

Clinging to the Wreckage / John Mortimer

Like most people, I came to know John Mortimer's works through his Rumpole series (the books, not the TV series). I came to appreciate his comic genius, his profoundly humanistic and unsanctimonious attitude to life, and was intrigued by the title of this slim autobiographical volume.

Mortimer tells of his lonely but privileged childhood, his domineering, odd, and immensely influential father, his awkward relationship with his mother, and his gradual, late development into a grown-up.

We are treated to brief but effective depictions of life in Harrow, then Oxford, then the law courts, then the theater, Paris, Hollywood and Italy, and while the descriptions are certainly subjective and do not mean to encompass the entire era, they do in fact double as capsules of bygone days, of the UK in the middle decades of the 20th century.

Mortimer tells it like it was, admitting weakness and failure alongside triumph and elation, and manages to be candid, amusing, touching, and brief. I look forward to reading more of his nonfiction, alongside his excellent fiction and plays.

"Master and Commander" is pure joy

O'Brian's Master and Commander (first novel of the Aubrey/Maturin series) is everything it's cracked up to be. A fantastic evocation of the Napoleonic seafaring era, the social mores, and the naval language and customs.

I particularly admire the quality of his mimesis: O'Brian achieves a high degree of verisimilitude in the characters' speech and opinions, and does not sugarcoat or censor the less than savory aspects of late-18th century life. For instance, one shore leave for the sailors after a successful voyage does not end in harmless drunkenness, but in multiple cases of rape of women in the port town.

The main characters are interesting, and Stephen Maturin in particular is an intriguing and highly original character.

The language is very rich but never tiresome; be prepared to crack open your trusty dictionary every other page or so. I found the language contributes greatly to the color and character of the narrative.

Thanks to all my friends who had read and recommended it in the past: Tal Cohen (as early as 2000!), avva, gaal, ygurvitz, and probably a few others I forget.

"Aiding [Africa] is Abetting", says Dambisa Moyo

Another excellent article I've recently read is this Guernica Magazine interview with economist Dambisa Moyo, who explains why sending money to Africa can't bring change. This agrees with my own tentative conclusions based on what I learn from occasional articles by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times and in the New York Review of Books, though Kristof himself, while acknowledging the shortcomings of aid, does not accept that it's part of the problem.

Kristof also reviews Moyo's book in the NYT.


The title reminds me that during my all-too-brief visit to Berlin earlier this year, I read Muriel Spark's Aiding and Abetting. It was a good, smooth read, but not as impressive as A Far Cry From Kensington or my favorite-so-far, The Ballad of Peckham Rye.