I’ve already written about my internship at Schwob and about my wish to read more outside my comfort zone, so I thought it would be fun to share with you the top 5 books I would like to read soon.
Which Schwob books would I like to read in the near future?
Epp by Axel Jensen
‘A darkly dystopian book about a pensioner called Epp, who is living in a town on an unnamed planet in a big block surrounded by hundreds of similar blocks. The society is strictly controlled by the authorities. Epp lives together with a carnivorous plant called Ili, and fills his days with cooking an egg for breakfast, studying wall papers (he used to work in a wall paper factory), writing reports on his own doings and those of other people living in the block, cutting pictures from journals and gluing them in a book. The only people he has contact with are his sister, who he sends letters to, and a neighbor Lem, who moves away. Epp is happy, if he succeeds in cooking a perfect egg and if there are no ink spots in the report.’
English publishers – Translate. This. Book!
Merlin and Company by Álvaro Cunqueiro
‘Long after Arthur’s last battle, Merlin and Guinevere live on. They retire to their house in Miranda, in the province of Galicia – though retire is hardly the word. Representatives of Europe’s kings and princes, troubled by the old ills of a magical world, find their way to Merlin’s door to seek his advice. The story involves the interplay of reality and the marvelous. People are summoned to Merlin’s house from all around the world to consult with him about their magical problems and troubles: the Emperor of Byzantium is in thrall to a seductress, the Lady of Aquitaine has been turned into a fawn by a daemon, Lady Theodora, the Greek mermaid, needs to dye her tail in mourning for her lost lover. Merlin is called upon to remedy their defects and repair their disasters with his secret skills, good humour and profound knowledge of the human heart.’
Professor Mmaa’s Lecture by Stefan Themerson
‘Professor Mmaa’s Lecture, given to a packed auditorium, deals with the habits, mentality and culture of homo sapiens. But both the professor and his entire audience are termites; the whole story is set inside a termite mound. Themerson’s heightened expertise and instinct for parodying the language and methods of scholarship, and the morals and manners of the academic world, produces a merciless and comical survey of philosophical views and attitudes. Professor Mmaa’s Lecture is in the tradition of philosophical satire, whose most famous proponents are Voltaire and Swift, and is a rare incidence of light yet deep prose that can be read with great pleasure on several levels.’
The Book of Paradise by Itzik Manger
‘A a satirical fantasy set in Paradise – a humorous vision of the afterlife in which familiar human weaknesses and pains persist. It tells the story of Shmuel-Aba, a twelve-year-old angel who lives in heaven but is taken to live on earth. Usually, those about to be born receive a punch on the nose just before leaving Paradise, which causes them to lose their memory. But Shmuel Aba dodges the punch and can recall every detail of his previous life.’
Niels Lyhne by Jens Peter Jacobsen
‘Niels Lyhne is an aspiring poet, torn between romanticism and realism, faith and reason. Through his relationships with six women – including his young widowed aunt, a seductive free spirit, and his passionate cousin who marries his friend – his search for purpose becomes a yielding to disillusionment. One of Danish literature’s greatest novels, with nods to Kierkegaard and a protagonist some critics have compared to Hamlet, Jacobsen’s masterpiece has at its center a young man who faces the anguish of the human condition but cannot find comfort in the Christian faith.’
That’s it for today – I hope you enjoyed these blog posts on Schwob and reading diversely – if you have any recommendations, please share them in the comments!