Last week, i started to read a desert book from Sudan and a classic from Asia - and after visiting the local library here and the current free online literary classes at Coursera, i am now reading 4 books: 2 desert books, the classic from Asia, and a classic from here: Grimm's fairy tales.
Desert Reads: Sudan + Negev
The great thing about libraries is that they offer the chance to find books you never heard of, from authors you don't know, and it probably is here that cover design and title make a lot of difference, like the colorful and fascinating cover of Salim Alafenisch's book "Das versteinerte Zelt" - "The Petrified Tent". The author's bio itself reads like a book: he is the son of a Bedouin Sheick of a tribe that lives in the Negev desert - the region geographically belongs to Israel, and at age 14, Alafenisch went to the college in Nazareth, and later, studied in London and then Heidelberg, Germany - where he still lives. He now writes in German, yet his book leads back to the Negev, to the tales of the tribe, and to the modern turn of life there, with the families moving from tents to houses, into a new and demanding turn from their tribe culture.
The other book i read is also a desert book, and like Alafenisch, the author was one of the few of her tribe who studied, and now lives abroad. “Tears of the Desert” is the autobiography of Halima Bashir who tells about her life in a village in the Darfur region of Sudan during the escalating conflict. I picked the book for the monthly country reads - January was France, and February is Sudan (site link). After starting to read the book, I also looked for some background info on Sudan, and browsing pages, arrived at a video that sketches the larger picture: Darfur in 10 Minutes: An Overview of the Conflict in Sudan .
Classics I: Grimm's Fairy Tales
I listened to them as a kid, read them myself when I learned to read, and now am back with Hänsel&Gretel, The Goose Girl, Hans in Luck, The Frog Prince, the Wolf and the Seven Goslings, and all the other stories. The motivation to pick them up came from the free literary online course "Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Human Mind, our Modern World", which started some days ago at Coursera. (more here in an info blog pots: literary courses online now).
The tales, they are like a common narrative, and partly fantasy and myth, parts of them I remember: scenes, names, story titles, emotions. But like with the Little Prince in January, i realize that most of the stories, I have forgotten, and re-reading them now is so interesting, especially with the additional lectures that will begin tomorrow, and explore and explain the narrative structure, the symbolism and the mythology. The collection i read is recommended and linked to by the course, it's a free and beautiful pdf-collection with a lot of illustrations, here the details: Grimm Fairy Tales" - edition: "Household Stories" from the collection of the brothers Grimm - free pdf / mobi at Open Library
Reading the stories also made me think of a newspaper article on found fairy tales: "Five hundred new fairy tales discovered in Germany: Collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years."Will be interesting to see how the Xaver-collection differs from Grimm, especially in the aspect pointed out by fairy tale expert Dr. Estes: ". . . in the case of the brothers Grimm (among other fairy-tale collectors of the past few centuries), there is a strong suspicion that the informants (storytellers) of that time sometimes 'purified' their stories for the religious brothers' sakes."
Inspired both by the 7 continents reading challenge & the classic reading February i'm reading the "The Tao Te Ching" - the classic Chinese text.: "According to tradition, it was written around the 6th century BC by the sage Laozi (or Lao Tzu, "Old Master"), text dates back to the late 4th century BC: more/wiki."
There are countless English translations of the Tao Te Ching, the one i am reading is the ebook from Stan Rosenthal, it also inlcudes an extensive introduction that starts with a reflection on classics, and the tasks they include: "A number of problems arise when translating any work from a written language, such as early Chinese, into twentieth century English. One such problem is the difference between the written forms of the two languages, another is the difference between the two cultures, and a third is the time which elapsed between the writing of the original work..."
Here's the e-book info: website and download link: Tao Te Ching translation with introduction, by Stan Rosenthal
This blog post is inspired by the blog series "It's Monday! What are you reading?" which is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. participating blogs are listed in this Linky Book List
Previous reading blog entries are collected here: bookshelf: currently reading... there also is a visual bookshelf, just click it to get there:
And my own new book... is Worl(d)s Apart. True.