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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • July 26, 2006

     

    Buddhist Thoughts in Russian Lit?

    I'm not sure if finishing War and Peace is a big load off my chest, but it's certainly a big load off my Timbuk2 bag! The 1443-page epic novel has been tugged into the bag for three weeks and puts an extra few pounds to it. While Tolstoy, who is more a moralist than a mystic, makes frequent allusion to Christianity, I find the novel stippled with Buddhist thoughts and ideas:

    "While imprisoned in the shed Pierre had learned, not through his intellect but through his whole being, through life itself, that man is created for happiness, that happiness lies in himself, in the satisfaction of simple human needs; and that all unhappiness is due, not to privation but to superfluity. But now, during these last three weeks of the march, he had learned still another new and confronting truth--that there is nothing in the world to be dreaded." [4.3.12]

    "The absence of suffering, the satisfaction of elementary needs and consequent freedom in the choice of one's occupation--that is, of one's mode of living--now seemed to Pierre the sure height of human happiness. Here and now for the first time in his life Pierre fully appreciated the enjoyment of eating because he was hungry, of drinking because he was thirsty, of sleep because he was sleepy, of warmth because he was cold, of talking to a fellow creature because he felt like talking and wanted to hear a human voice. The satisfaction of one's needs--good food, cleanliness, freedom--now that he was deprived of these seemed to Pierre to constitute perfect happiness; and the choice of occupation, that is, of his manner in life, now that choice was so restricted, seemed to him such an easy matter that he forgot that a superfluity of the comforts of life destroys all joy in gratifying one's needs,..." [4.3.12]


    If love is among human needs, then recently I have for a very long time tasted love and basked in the happiness of love. The suffering from the past relationship--the chilly reception, the days when I looked at my phone raptly to see if he (the ex) had called {I know that was pathetic), the deprivation of intimacy--all constitute my happiness now.

    Reading Update
    What I am reading for my classes: The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky and The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer, Michael Warner Life
    What I am reading for summer: Four Tragedies, William Shakespeare
    What I am reading for fun: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me, Michael Thomas Ford
    The last book I purchased: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov for John.

    4 Comments:

    Blogger Greg said...

    Perhaps Dostoevsky tried to piece together how similar relgions might be and knew more about Buddhism than we might suspect.

    Dostoevsky is one of those authors whose works teachers loved to assign during college but no one ever made the time to actually read. Crime and Punishment hides somewhere in my stack of bedside books; I will get to it. And if I enjoy it, I will eventually check out War and Peace from the library.

    7/26/2006 9:12 AM  
    Blogger Anomie-Atlanta said...

    I have "The Cairo Trilogy" on my to read list. Is it good?

    7/27/2006 10:12 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    The first of the three is the best. Are you talking about the novel written by Naguib Mahfouz?

    I've got reviews on Amazon.com :)

    Happy reading.

    7/27/2006 12:55 PM  
    Blogger mingerspice said...

    I think love is definitely among human needs, both the need to give and to receive love.

    I've been trying, in my own life, to be aware of the many contexts for love, and to break from the modern focus on romantic love with one person as the singular outlet/source for compassion, understanding and companionship. Not that I'm against romantic love, I just realise that when I come to let it dominate my attentions, I experience what I've heard Buddhists call "attachment" in a way that precludes true compassion and promotes suffering.

    7/27/2006 7:43 PM  

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